Executive summary

This report presents the Education Review Office’s findings from an evaluation of schools’ provision for gifted and talented students.

ERO evaluated the provision for gifted and talented students in 315 schools reviewed in Terms 3 and 4, 2007. Of the schools reviewed, 261 were primary schools, and 54 were secondary schools.

National Administration Guideline (NAG) 1 (iii)(c) requires boards of trustees, through their principals and staff, to use good quality assessment information to identify students who have special needs (including gifted and talented), and to develop and implement teaching and learning strategies to meet the needs of these students. Schools were notified about the inclusion of gifted and talented students in this NAG in December 2003, and have been required to implement provision for gifted and talented students since Term 1, 2005.

Although the schools in this evaluation were at various stages in developing the quality of their provision, many had established a shared understanding of what it was to be gifted and talented in their school. These schools had implemented programmes that were beneficial to gifted and talented students. A few schools were just beginning to make special provision for gifted and talented students.

School leaders were enthusiastic about supporting the achievement of gifted and talented students in just over half the schools. This foundation was particularly beneficial for the quality of the programmes they chose to provide for gifted and talented students. Almost half the schools had developed inclusive and appropriate definitions and identification processes, and implemented responsive and appropriate programmes for gifted and talented students. Almost a quarter had developed processes for reviewing the effectiveness of their provision. Nearly half the schools were promoting positive outcomes for identified gifted and talented students.

The findings from this evaluation highlight three main stages in a school’s progress towards effective provision for gifted and talented students. The three stages involve:

  • developing a shared understanding of gifted and talented education;
  • implementing good quality provision for gifted and talented students; and
  • ensuring positive outcomes for gifted and talented students.

Recommendations for improvement

ERO recommends that teachers:

  • communicate, consult, and collaborate with parents, whānau, and the school community to develop a shared understanding about gifted and talented education;
  • provide challenging and differentiated programmes for gifted and talented students in the regular classroom;
  • provide appropriate feedback and support for gifted and talented students to achieve in and make progress with their gifts or talents;
  • develop an understanding that every teacher has responsibility to teach the gifted and talented; and
  • develop awareness of the particular social and emotional characteristics of gifted and talented students, and promote their holistic wellbeing.

ERO recommends that school leaders:

  • designate a person or team to lead the school’s provision for gifted and talented students and give them support;
  • develop and foster a school-wide understanding of gifted and talented education;
  • promote ongoing participation in school-wide professional development, and specialist training and development for people specifically responsible for gifted and talented education;
  • develop inclusive and appropriate definitions and identification processes for gifted and talented students that reflect student diversity and encompass a variety of gifts and talents; and
  • institute appropriate self-review processes to determine the effectiveness of provision for gifted and talented students.

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider how best to:

  • encourage schools to develop improved assessment strategies consistent with the New Zealand Curriculum, to demonstrate the range of abilities and the achievement of gifted and talented students;
  • provide targeted, high quality professional development to rural and low decile schools on providing for gifted and talented students; and
  • develop links and networks between clusters of early childhood services and schools so that there is ongoing support for gifted and talented students at transition points in the education.