Gifted education advocates have welcomed the $5 million in the Education Budget to support the learning and well being of gifted students in New Zealand.

The recent funding boost, announced in February this year, supports funding for one day a week programmes, awards for gifted learners, events and opportunities and online learning – all services are direct to students, for their benefit. The only support for professionals is enhanced online guidance through changes and additions to the Ministry’s Te Kete Ipurangi website.

“The programmes and awards are really exciting, from mentoring to inventions, media tech, marine studies, chess and Māori navigation, and most are facilitated outside of schools,” observes giftEDnz Board Co-chair Dr Nadine Ballam of the University of Waikato.

“This out of school approach is part of an important continuum of opportunities and requires specialists to ensure high quality, appropriate services.”

giftEDnz Board co-chair and University of Waikato doctoral candidate, Justine Hughes says giftEDnz supports professionals – teachers, principals, educational psychologists, and other specialists – to respond appropriately to the learning, emotional and social differences of gifted learners.

“Gifted kids learn at a faster pace and greater depth than many of their peers, and with these advanced qualities and abilities, they inherently have a different set of social and emotional needs,“ explains Hughes.

The Ministry of Education estimates 40,000 students to be gifted, and the events and awards will go some way to meeting some students’ needs in some programmes outside of school settings.

But, as Board member Associate Professor Tracy Riley of Massey University reflects, “The Ministry of Education has committed to a continuum of services for gifted learners and expects all schools to identify and provide for their needs – every day in every classroom.”

Like many other advocates, members of giftEDnz anxiously await the details for future, ongoing funding.

“We are ready to support professionals who provide services to gifted students and welcome these newly funded programme providers to join our network,” says Hughes. “We are delighted the funding has been restored and hopeful that the additional funds will redress the balance by providing support of teachers, as well as funding for in-school programmes for the gifted.”

During the upcoming Gifted Awareness Week celebrations (17-24 June), the Board and many members are blogging, releasing a position statement and encouraging members to get politically active, advocate for their students and celebrate gifts and talents.

“The 2019 theme, Mythbusting, provides a great opportunity for provocative discussion and critical reflections on supporting learning and well-being of the gifted,” says Riley.

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