Education Minister Scuttles Hopes Of Gifted Kids

Published: Mon 22 Dec 2003 10:56 AM
For Immediate Release
Education Minister Scuttles Hopes Of Gifted Kiwi Kids
The Minister of Education, The Hon Trevor Mallard, today gave the ‘thumbs down’ to a proposal submitted by The Gifted Kids Programme (GKP) for what would have been New Zealand’s first State-funded full time school for gifted and talented students (years 7 -10).
The initiative, says Co Founder of GKP Christine Fernyhough, was submitted under Section 156 of the Education Act 1989.
Despite the Minister acknowledging the intellectual rigour behind their submission, the application was declined because of the apparent ‘tensions’ between the direction of current Government education policy and the opportunity to create a unique educational resource and environment.
“This is devastating news for gifted children and particularly for the parents who supported GKP right from the start and who desired greater choice for their children.
“In essence the Minister argued that policy was directed at supporting gifted students within a regular State-school classroom environment. The GKP Parent Lobby group put forward the proposition that, while in theory this would be an ideal outcome, the practical result was that many gifted children were not having their special learning needs met.
“It is also particularly depressing on the day that a multi-billion dollar Government surplus was announced that the funding we were hoping to secure to help those who will help create our ‘Knowledge Economy’ wasn’t granted,” she said.
According to Christine Fernyhough the experiences that have driven the GKP Parent Lobby group are in fact supported by the Secretary for Education’s observation in the foreword of the Ministry of Education handbook on Gifted and Talented Students published in 2002.
“It is ironic that Secretary Howard Fancy said the purpose of the handbook was in response to a growing awareness that many of our gifted and talented students go unrecognised, and that those who are identified often do not take part in an educational programme appropriate to their needs.
“The Minister’s decision is especially disappointing because it indicates to the GKP parent group that New Zealand is still not ready to look at some of the commonly available overseas educational alternatives appropriate for meeting the special learning needs of gifted and talented students.
“It is certainly a sad day for us but a much sadder one for New Zealand,” she said.

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