Utilise a range of opportunities and expertise in your community to support talent development.
The MoE (2012) supports a continuum of approaches to meeting the needs of gifted and talented learners. This is in recognition of the fact that children spend only part of their lives in school and although it is a large portion of each day, only a fraction of their school day may be spent in differentiated or specialised programmes to develop their gifts and talents. Olszewski-Kubilius and Limburg-Weber (1999) suggest that while traditionally, schools might have been considered the panacea for developing academic knowledge and skills, the development of musical, performing art, athletic and leadership abilities is equally reliant upon community-based programmes. However, the out-of-school special lessons, coaching, intensive training, resources and long hours of practice required to develop these talents also assist in developing abilities in other areas.
Many schools in New Zealand use out-of-school learning opportunities for connecting gifted and talented learners. A MoE-commissioned study (Riley et al., 2004) found that community-based provisions for gifted and talented learners were used by nearly half of the participating schools – mainly primary, intermediate, higher decile and urban schools. The most common off-site provisions reported in this study were the Correspondence School, One Day School programmes and school clusters or networks.
Good links between schools and out-of-school providers, including teachers, parents, whānau and the community, are features of effective provisions for gifted and talented learners.
ERO (2008) provides deeper insight into community-based opportunities, linking these to open communication with parents, whānau and the school community:
Opportunities for gifted and talented students reflected community aspirations. For example, a group of students worked with a film company to make an educational movie for schools on saving dolphins. Also a group of students worked closely with the Department of Conservation on the Learnz project answering questions online from other schools about their local marine reserve (p. 27).
The ERO report found that schools used similar programmes to those reported by Riley (2007): specifically, Te Manu Aute programme for performing and visual arts, Gifted Kids (GK) and One Day School (now MindPlus), competitions, leadership conferences, dance and art festivals and other specialised tuition. Schools with responsive provisions for their gifted and talented learners made good links between these off-site programmes and the regular classroom, reinforced with teacher professional learning and development. Out-of-school programmes were unique and varied.
In a study conducted for the Todd Foundation in 2007, Tracy Riley notes the following results of a survey of over 75 out-of-school providers of opportunities for gifted and talented learners in New Zealand:
When learners are offered a continuum of learning opportunities, it is important that these be connected with one another, well-articulated and comprehensive. To link provisions effectively, both in-school and out-of-school providers need to ensure they have developed:
Steps communities can take to link provisions
A sense of community – whether local, regional or national, face-to-face or virtual – can be developed if the focus is on identifying gifted and talented learners’ needs and meeting those within a responsive context. Donald Treffinger (2008) and his colleagues in the US provide recommendations for implementing contemporary, comprehensive provisions in a school district. These have been adapted for wider use, as follows:
The New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education Limited (NZCGE) is a registered charity governed by a Board of Directors and employs educators who are experienced in, and passionate about, gifted education. NZCGE was formed in 2014 upon the merger of The Gifted Education Centre and The Gifted Children’s Advancement Charitable Trust. The vision for the NZCGE is ‘a future New Zealand in which extraordinary minds do extraordinary things’.
The NZCGE offers a number of services to support gifted children and their parents, educators and others who connect with young gifted New Zealanders. Support for learners includes:
Visit the NZCGE website to access the full range of services offered