The extent, nature and effectiveness of planned approaches in New Zealand schools for providing for gifted and talented students

Publication Details

This research was commissioned in response to a recommendation made in the report from the Working Party on Gifted Education and to inform the Ministry of Education's development of policy for the education of gifted and talented students. The purpose of the research was to determine how schools provide for these students and the efficacy of these approaches. This report highlights the main findings from the research.

Author(s): Tracy Riley, Jill Bevan-Brown, Brenda Bicknell, Janis Carroll-Lind and Alison Kearney, Institute for Professional Development and Educational Research. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.

Date Published: 2004

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Executive Summary

This research, which encompassed a review of the literature, national survey, and case studies, as an investigation of the extent, nature and effectiveness of planned identification and provisions for gifted and talented students in New Zealand schools, provides baseline data which demonstrates progress in meeting the needs of gifted and talented students, but also indicates the need for continued growth and development in this area of education. Both in research and practice, there are strengths in the identification and provisions, as well as areas for continued development. These are outlined in the conclusions:

  • There is a paucity of reported national or international research which evaluates the effectiveness of provisions for gifted and talented students in relation to social, cultural, emotional, creative, and intellectual outcomes. Although there is recent growth in New Zealand's literature and research base in gifted and talented education, its dissemination and availability to practitioners is limited.
  • There is a growing awareness of the need to provide gifted and talented students in New Zealand schools with an individualised and appropriate education, but this is impeded by a reported lack of professional development, access to resources and support, funding, time, and cultural misunderstandings.
  • Reported definitions of giftedness and talent in New Zealand schools are broad and multicategorical; however, cultural, spiritual, and emotional giftedness are often overlooked. Additionally, many of the reported definitions, identification practices, and provisions do not embody Mäori perspectives and values.
  • Multiple approaches to identification of giftedness and talent are reported by New Zealand schools; however, there is heavy reliance upon teacher identification and standardised testing across all areas of ability.
  • There is a reported preference in New Zealand schools for implementing a combined approach of enrichment and acceleration, but the implementation of these is rather limited, with partiality to within-class provisions and withdrawal or pull-out programmes.
  • Gifted and talented students from under-represented groups, especially Mäori students and those of other ethnic minority groups, are not being readily identified in New Zealand schools, and culturally appropriate provisions are not being planned, implemented or evaluated.
  • There is awareness and recognition of the social and emotional needs of gifted and talented students; however, only isolated examples of provisions specific to these are reported by New Zealand schools. Additionally, some of the reported identification methods and provisions could have potential negative effects upon the social and emotional well-being of gifted and talented students.
  • The reported involvement of parents, caregivers, and whänau in the overall organisation and coordination, identification, and provisions for gifted and talented students in New Zealand schools is minimal.
  • Schools in New Zealand are cognisant of the need for ongoing schoolwide professional development for all teachers and consider the lack of these opportunities a barrier to identification and provisions. Resources, funding, time and access are reported as barriers to professional development.