Education Queensland Policy Statement 1993

The Education of Gifted Students in Queensland Schools


Education Queensland requires that schools and regions provide appropriate services for gifted students to assist the development of their potential. Schools and regions should be aware of the need to provide such services and address this requirement in their planning. 


This document consistently uses the term 'gifted' to denote students with high potential. The term 'gifted and talented' is also commonly used in the field and is frequently seen in the literature of the area.

Rationale | Objectives | What is Giftedness? | Identification | Educational Provisions | Resources

RATIONALE

Every society needs the contributions of its members to prosper and flourish. Communities benefit when the diverse gifts of members are valued and developed. As well as contributing to the welfare of the group, individuals have the right to use their abilities for their own personal satisfaction.

Two of the key operating principles of a quality public education system are equity and social justice. Such a system involves teachers, administrators, parents and other community members in provided two essential elements -- a curriculum that is inclusive of all students and a school environment that supports their needs. Schools, therefore, should be committed to acknowledging and executing their fundamental role in the development of the gifts of students irrespective of the individual's circumstances or characteristics.

Schools play a vital role in the nurturing of the gifts of each individual student. Gifted students in schools form a group which is only adequately provided for when curriculum is inclusive of their needs and when school environments are supportive. Before appropriate curriculum can be provided, however, gifted students should be recognised, accepted and understood by the school community. Some gifted students have low self-esteem and will need help to overcome self doubts so that they can continue to develop their potential.

For disadvantaged groups to achieve equitably, it is necessary to discriminate in their favour. According to the group's special needs, differing educational experiences are provided. Equity affirms excellence and striving to achieve one's full potential. For students to achieve excellence, access to expertise that facilitates extension, enrichment and sustained, focused development of their gifts is necessary.

Giftedness is a disadvantage when members of a community fail to understand, acknowledge or provide appropriate schooling for such students. Factors which can result in disadvantage for gifted students are:

  • sociocultural bias against high ability and high achievement, 
  • stereotyped assumptions determining which gifts are valued;
  • failure to identify students' exceptional potential (especially when masked by behavioural traits or compounding characteristics such as disabilities, low socioeconomic circumstances, isolation, gender, non-English-speaking background and Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander origins);
  • lack of access to appropriately challenging educational experiences.

Objectives

Policy for the education of gifted students is the basis for:

  • appropriate provision for gifted students to develop their potential;
  • recognition and nurturing of a wide range of students' abilities ;
  • development of understanding of the educational implications of giftedness.

Many of the issues addressed in this policy statement apply to all students. However the issues are included here because of their particular relevance in helping to dispel stereotyped ideas about giftedness. Such ideas can hinder appreciation and delay acceptance of potentially gifted students.

  

WHAT IS GIFTEDNESS?

The concept of giftedness continues to alter with current understandings of intelligence, creativity, brain function, self concept and disadvantage. These understandings influence and are influenced by social and cultural contexts. The acceptability of definitions of giftedness depends upon what society recognises as valuable performance areas. Defining `giftedness' in great detail can also pose problems of labelling and exclusivity.

It is necessary, however, to provide a basis from which educators can plan appropriate strategies. The following definition offers an appropriate starting point for identification and provision of educational services.

Gifted students are those who excel, or have the potential to excel in general or specific ability areas.

This belief is inclusive of all ability areas, is non-discriminatory on the grounds of gender, cultural origins or socioeconomic background, and provides the opportunity for the achievement of excellence to be explored within the student's own context. This includes students who arc geographically isolated and those with disabilities. While this belief is a useful starting point, there is a need to recognise the unidentified gifted students - particularly those who under-achieve.

The following brief generalisations can be made about giftedness. (Further information is contained in the resource document, The Education of Gifted Students)

  • Giftedness is multifaceted and can exist in one or several ability areas.  
  • Gifted students may exhibit exceptional ability at different stages of their development and this is often accompanied by considerable task commitment and creativity. Gifted behaviours are not necessarily manifested in traditional curriculum areas, nor are they always demonstrated in socially acceptable ways.
  • Giftedness is developmental, and gifts become apparent at different stages of life.
  • Each individual has unique qualities and, while common characteristics can be identified, no two gifted students will exhibit the same set of characteristics nor will there be identical needs.
  • Gifted students are found in all socioeconomic and cultural groups
  • Several factors influence the achievement of students' potential. These include: recognition from their own cultures; acquisition of necessary skills to facilitate achievement; development of positive self concept; and appropriate home, community and school support.

Identification

Identifying gifted students is an integral part of a school's strategy for recognising, recording and responding to individual differences. To allow for the different stages of a student's development, comprehensive and ongoing identification is required. The nature of identification procedures will vary. School-wide procedures could range from observing gifts as they are displayed to conducting specific screening procedures. Identification procedures are outlined in The Education of Gifted Students.

Early and continued opportunities within the curriculum should be provided for students' gifts to be revealed. Such activities should be structured to allow entry and exit from educational programs without discrimination or labelling.

In a classroom environment which is supportive and stimulating, gifts become highly visible. A climate which allows risk taking has warmth, cooperation, acceptance, flexibility and open-endedness as its characteristics. These are necessary if gifts are to emerge. Such a climate will allow the abilities of the achieving student, as well as those of the hidden gifted, to be identified or to `bubble up'. When gifts have been recognised, complex challenging activities and investigations can be designed to cater more appropriately for these students. Further advanced abilities may then be identified as a result of such provisions.

Educational Provisions

It is essential that all social groups and individual learning styles are accommodated in the classroom. Respect for differences among individuals must be cultivated, including differences in ability, gender, location, cultures, beliefs, values and socioeconomic background. When planning for gifted students' needs and interests, it is necessary to involve students, parents, classroom teachers, school administrators, counsellors and other relevant personnel who have expertise in the education of gifted students. The curriculum should reflect the diversity of these needs and interests through the teaching of the higher level thinking skills which challenge and motivate students.

During the students' progression through school, appropriate directions will be determined by considering students' various needs. Factors such as the extent and nature of the special ability, student's self-concept, extent of experiences, and disabilities and personality traits will influence directions for each student.

Opportunities need to be available for extension, enrichment and acceleration, or the appropriate combination of these. Acceleration can involve speeding the student's passage through school by curriculum acceleration within a year level, curriculum compression or grade skipping. Enrichment and extension involve concentration on high-level skills development, creative and critical thinking and metacognition. The resource document, The Education of Gifted Students, provides details on appropriate educational provisions.

Resources

Gifted students require access to resources (both human and material) which provide challenge, allowing exploration in both depth and breadth of the subject. Regions and school support centres should provide appropriate support for teachers who teach gifted students so that suitable resources are readily available, especially when these resources are located outside the school. Where available, teacher librarians, learning support teachers and special needs teachers ran assist with this access. The wider community can provide a wealth of resources. Suggestions about resource personnel, materials, equipment and facilities are included in The Education of Gifted Students.  

 


This policy was developed through a process of wide consultation with school and regional personnel in both state and non-state education systems and with input from community and tertiary education representatives.

 

 


This publication was produced by Publishing Services for Studies Directorate, Education Queensland, Queensland, 1993 PIP No. 92059

 

Print copies of this policy, accompanying resource documents, and information sheets about acceleration are available from the G&T Officers in Head Office of Education Queensland.

 



Reproduced with permission.

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