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Special programmes within the school

To fully cater to the needs of gifted students, schools will need to utilise a range of different options both in and out of the regular classroom. Each year the needs of gifted students within your school will dictate which options you will need to implement with an emphasis on targeted, planned and considered programmes and provisions which are reviewed on a regular basis.

Early Entrance

This option allows students with advanced academic skills across a range of areas to skip a level of their education or to enter intermediate, secondary, and tertiary education at an earlier age than usual. All key stakeholders (student, teachers, parents/whānau) need to be consulted when considering this option. It is important the student be given continued support if this option goes ahead.

This option requires institutional flexibility to waive entry requirements and possibly assisting parents with costs, timetabling, and transportation. In situations where families cannot provide such financial support, schools need to consider outside sources of funding, such as scholarships sponsored by business or civic groups.


Pull Out or Withdrawal Programmes

This option involves grouping students of similar interests or abilities during regular class time. A key advantage of a pull out or withdrawal programme is the meeting of like minds with opportunities to connect with other gifted students.

Students are removed from their normal classroom setting for work in a resource room with a specialist teacher, participation in a mini-course, seminars, field trips, or interactions with a special guest. Schools may vary withdrawal time from an hour a week to a full day per week. It is also common for schools to vary the topics covered so that a wide range of students get to participate. Students working in this sort of arrangement may miss some other classroom opportunities or receive fragmented instruction from the curriculum, so close communication between teachers is essential.

Some Secondary schools find that it is easier to run a pull out programme during form time or homeroom time or before or after school. This allows the students to meet briefly with each other and to build a relationship with the GATE Coordinator. Usually a time allocation is also given to the GATE Coordinator to meet with students individually or in small groups.

It is important to note that withdrawal programmes are only one aspect of catering for gifted students. Some staff may feel that if the gifted student is in a withdrawal or pull out programme then their needs are being met. This is incorrect as gifted students require adaptations to their regular classroom programme (insert link to regular classroom programme) on a daily basis. The  Student Needs Analysis Questionnaire is a good place to start for Intermediate and Secondary teachers running a withdrawal or pull out programme so that they can read a personalised profile of their students.

Outside Providers of Withdrawal Classes

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Specialised Classes

Specialised classes for gifted and talented students offer broader depth and complexity, usually at a faster pace than would be typical. Sometimes telescoping (for example, when students complete three years of work in two) complements these classes. A skilled teacher needs to work successfully within full or part time classes for gifted and talented students in order to ensure qualitative  differentiation rather than 'more of the same'.

These specialised classes could also be run by schools in the same area so that students have a chance to interact with gifted students at other schools. Some GATE Coordinators have arranged to have a different school host an ‘enrichment day’ each term which one school hosts for GATE students from surrounding schools. These days are run by teachers or outside providers who run workshops on their passions or on topics to extend gifted students. It is important that these days are carefully planned and managed so that they provide content and skills that are too high a level for most students, otherwise these opportunities are seen by other students and parents as elitism.


In this option, an experienced older student or adult (the mentor) is teamed with a student of similar interests and abilities (the mentee). Usually conducted outside school settings, this option may work best in conjunction with independent or small group study. Mentorships are a good option for gifted students who often feel “like a square peg in a round hole”. Having a mentor from a similar cultural and socioeconomic background can help students relate to this ‘role model’ in their life. There needs to be a clear understanding of the intended purposes and outcomes. Health and safety issues need to be considered carefully.

Mentors may be from any field of endeavour, which could include business and industry, health, the arts, or research. The role of the mentor is not simply to impart information about their skills or profession, but also to nurture the social and emotional aspects of giftedness through empathetic companionship.

Related reading

Concurrent Enrolment

Also called dual enrolment, this programming option allows students to concurrently enrol in either secondary or tertiary courses while still at primary, intermediate, or secondary school.

This pathway could mean that students will be learning online (for example through Correspondence School or an online University course) or could be attending lectures at another institution (for example, some University timetable lectures after 4pm to allow secondary students to attend them). It is important to give the students a quiet place to work if they are working on a correspondence or online course during school hours.

Concurrent enrolment could be formal where students are gaining credits at another institution or enrichment where the students are participating in the concurrent enrolment but are not gaining credits.

Students could also join online MOOCs (massive open online courses). These courses are run by some of the world’s most highly regarded universities.

Formal Concurrent Enrolment Links

Enrichment Concurrent Enrolment Links


Competitions allow gifted and talented students to compete or work with students of like ability as well as provide a higher level of challenge. They give students an opportunity to pursue interests, demonstrate strengths and meet other gifted students. Many schools already participate in a range of competitions, including science fairs, examinations, and technology challenges.

A good idea is to have a member of the GATE Team be responsible for searching in the Education Gazette for competitions or the  Gifted Online Competitions page that may be of interest for gifted students. These can then be put on display at a central point at the school or advertised on a GATE Student Facebook (Secondary) or  Edmodo page (Primary).


Related reading

Clubs and Electives

Clubs, electives and cluster groups are good for gifted students as they allow students to pursue their passions and work with like-minded students. They can provide challenge and enrichment as well as help teach team building and leadership skills.

Some points to consider when setting up these programmes:

  • Will the club or group be open to only identified GATE students or to any student with a passion or interest in this area?
  • What curriculum level (rather than age group) is this group aimed at?
  • Will it be run by teachers or students?
  • Is there a staff member who could facilitate it?
  • How will it be timetabled? Class time? Lunchtime? After/before school?

The range of topics is vast - from stamp collecting, collaborative games, chess, literature, creating apps or games and photography to debating, quilting, music appreciation, archery to forming a Toastmasters Young Gavel Club.



The internet is changing the way teachers all over the world teach. With more and more students bringing their own device, it is becoming easier to personalise programmes for gifted students and to have students working on activities that are at their curriculum level rather than age level. For gifted learners, it is an exciting resource that can help provide authentic learning experiences in the classroom, for example by enabling direct contact with experts in various fields, promoting social action, or creating products such as websites.

For gifted students, e-learning can easily provide access to resources at the student’s advanced level. It can allow students to adapt the pace and direction of their work to suit their learning needs.

E-learning opportunities can be utlilised inside the classroom or in the home environment. As more and more students BYOD (bring your own device) to school, it is important that teachers include the option of e-learning to help cater for their needs.

Some schools have ‘flipped’ education and are using sites like the Khan Academy to ‘teach’ the students for homework through watching the tutorials. Then the teacher works through practice exercises in the class with the students so that they can have assistance on hand.