(Note to teachers outside New Zealand: a “CoL” is the term our Ministry is using for schools networking together for PLD purposes. It stands for “Communities of Learning”).
REACH Education provides a comprehensive Gifted PLD package carefully structured to meet the diverse needs of schools and CoLs working with different age levels and with varying degrees of existing staff knowledge and practical expertise in this field. This package is eligible for applications to the Ministry of Education for Centrally Funded PLD. Here’s how it works:
We will help you to determine the Gifted PLD priorities for your school or CoL and to build an appropriate Work Plan, drawing from an extensive set of options designed for this purpose.
We will work with you on implementing, reviewing and evaluating the outcomes of your Work Plan, for example through providing mentoring, advisory support, workshops, staff meetings, practical exemplars, and/or resource materials, and so on.
As with all our work, our expert staff have a firmly evidence-based approach, and focus on strategies which are practical, relevant and achievable. Our aim is to create programmes and provisions which are sustainable beyond our involvement with the school or CoL, with the capacity to evolve and self-renew in future years.
What if your school or CoL has not considered PLD in this field? The Ministry of Education has accepted that there is a valid need for gifted PLD.The following information may help you to demonstrate this to your colleagues too.
PLD on Gifted – why should we care?
If you are reading this, then you probably already know the answer to that question. But the reality is that for some, perhaps many, of your colleagues, it’s a very real question. The perception is still widespread that gifted learners don’t need help, will succeed anyway, are already high achievers, are fortunate children from privileged homes, and so on. Consequently, your colleagues’ reactions to the idea of gifted PLD may initially range from indifference to irritation to downright disagreement. How can you convince them otherwise?
Ask your colleagues how they’d define an “underachieving” student. They’ll probably say it means a child or student whose performance is significantly below what it should be for their age. Ask your colleagues why that matters – how it’s going to affect that student. They’ll tell you about potentially devastating consequences for that student – his or her sense of failure and low self esteem, his or her feelings of frustration and inadequacy, perhaps being regarded as dumb or stupid by other kids and how that hurts, and in later life all the limitations that student faces in job opportunities, earning potential, work satisfaction and stability.
Now you can point out, first of all, that underachievement defined in relation to age doesn’t just refer to physical age – it also refers to intellectual and emotional age. A child physically aged 8 but intellectually aged 11 who is only being given the opportunity to perform at the level expected of other 8-year-olds is underperforming every bit as seriously as a child physically aged 8 who is performing only at the level expected for 5-year-old new entrants. And then you can add that the international research has been showing us for decades that up to a massive 50% of all gifted students are significantly underachieving in this way. The Ministry’s own handbook, Gifted and Talented Students: Meeting Their Needs in New Zealand Schools (2012), shows us this is a real concern here too, unequivocally calling underachievement “a serious issue for many gifted and talented students”.
You might also like to add in a few extra facts – such as the very low incidence of gifted Maori and Pasifika students being recognised as such in most mainstream schools, the equally low rate of identification in low decile schools, the research showing parents as generally highly accurate identifiers of giftedness in their children, and so on.
And now you can ask your colleagues whether or not they think that underachievement of this kind will have devastating consequences for the gifted child – whether that child too is likely to experience a sense of failure, low self esteem, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, being a social misfit; whether that child too, in later life, will face limitations in access to job opportunities that really allow him or her to fulfil his or her potential and to find work and life satisfaction. Again the research is unequivocal: these consequences are all too likely – unless we as teachers do something about it.
PLD in relation to gifted learners isn’t an unnecessary waste of limited funds. It isn’t even just a nice desirable extra if there’s time. It’s an essential responsibility schools need to fulfil.
We can help you with this, and our PLD package, like our online course, is designed for exactly that purpose.
We welcome enquiries from you at any time, and are happy to discuss your possible involvement. Talking with us about this does not require you to make a commitment to taking the package.
REACH staff are accredited Ministry of Education facilitators and have a wealth of experience and nationally recognised expertise in this field. See the About Us : Our Staff page for individual staff CV (Bio) information.