Fears gifted students will languish without help

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Craig Petersen, chair of the Board of High School Administrators, called the gifted and high-potential education policy excellent, but said schools need support and expertise to ensure it is implemented well enough to drive cultural change in a region that has long been neglected.

“Technically, the support is still there, but not in a way that is beneficial for schools,” he said. “It should be a priority for the department to maintain the quality and effectiveness of implementing a truly robust policy.

“The research indicates that we look at between 10 and 20 percent of our students who are not adequately cared for because they are not children in an OC (opportunity class) class or taking test selective high school entrance. At the bottom of that range, we have 100,000 Students in our school would benefit from implementing this policy. We are really upset about this.”

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education said, “Seeking and supporting talented students remains a priority for the department. The Gifted and High Potential Education team has not been a stand-alone unit.”

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One of the signatories to the letter was Dr Geraldine Taunin, an expert in gifted education at the University of New South Wales. She said that the group’s dissolution before all schools had a chance to obtain its training and advice indicated that gifted education was no longer a priority for the administration.

“The schools were embracing her and getting that support and specialists they could count on,” she said. “I don’t know what will happen now that he is gone.”

Melinda Gendy, president of the AAEGT, said she was approached by parents who were stunned that they would no longer have a point of contact to help them work with the school to take care of their children. “I fear that this illogical decision will simply lead to a repetition of the futile consequences of previous talent policies,” she said.

The department spokesperson said the advisory group advised the HPGE team to develop a revised policy and train teachers on how to identify and support students. “It was not their role to provide direct support to the schools,” he said.

“They have put in place excellent policy and professional learning being delivered by the curriculum teams in the department. This will continue.”

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