Gifted Children: The Provision of Defensible Programs in Queensland Schools.

Year: 1991

Author: Gibson m Kay L.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The topic of gifted education in Australia and overseas has often been met in the past with cries that providing programs for the gifted is elitist, undemocratic and wasteful. 'Many believe that gifted and talented children will invariably succeed on the basis of natural ability. Unfortunately, the evidence does not support this view.' (Select Committee, 1980, p.18)

Equal educational treatment of all children does not result in equal and fair education of children. Just as less able students should not be expected to work at the normative level, neither should advanced students be asked to bide their time and limit their growth by working at a normative level. 'Each person has the right to learn and to be provided opportunities and challenges for learning at the most appropriate level where growth proceeds most efficiently.' (Clark, 1983, p. 132)

In Australia, gifted education has existed in various forms for decades. Opportunity classes in New South Wales provided separate provision for gifted children as early as the 1960s. Previously, in Queensland State Schools gifted children have been provided for within the regular classroom setting when the teacher recognised individual needs and as the teacher deemed was appropriate.

In terms of proactive policies, gifted education is well represented in all Australian states and territories. But policy statements, do not appropriately educate the gifted. Development and implementation of effective programs for the gifted must be initiated to provide appropriate education for these children. In Queensland, programming is the responsibility of the individual school with assistance available from regional consultants and the state consultancy director if desired.

The current Queensland policy statement for the education of the gifted in state schools provides an adequate road map for schools to move towards a comprehensive school program for gifted children. In addition to policy guidelines, special needs consultants have worked extensively in the last few years with school personnel to heighten awareness of the needs of gifted children and provide assistance with the development and implementation of appropriate programs.

The following document analysis was developed to ascertain to what extent the six year old policy has been effectively implemented at the school level, what organisational structures have proven appropriate and to identify further actions which may enhance efforts to educate gifted children in Queensland.