Gifted and Talented: MOE Don’t Care

Morning all!

My reports have finally gone home so there is just a few things to finish up at school – our Newton’s Laws of Motion projects, tidying up the garden, getting things down off the wall etc.

We are also in the process of preparing our classes for next year. I will have a year 5/6 with a large number of children achieving at Level 4 of the curriculum for reading and writing (about 20% of the whole class). There has been discussion about how I as a teacher, and we as a school are going to cater for these gifted learners.

A few feelers were put out to someone who has worked with us in the past. She emailed back yesterday.

…I am afraid G & T does not have a very big contract for PLD currently. Unless you are on a MOE contract the only way that you can access help is by paying for it.

Disappointing but typical.

The ministry and Hekia Parata are often on about “priority learners.” What they actually mean is “underachieving learners” Their definition; since we are measuring them against a “standard” and they are not achieving – thus they are “underachieving.”

Unfortunately we live in a world where most of the money spent by political parties is on phonetic massaging of the texts of their press releases. Priority learners sounds like an action plan; it sounds like you are doing something positive and quickly (also see partnership schools and mixed ownership model).

Because of the vast millions spent on implementing National Standards our current government have had to syphon those monies away from other parts of the education system – professional development in literacy, numeracy and gifted and talented programmes (I assume there are many more, but this posting is a bit of a rant rather than a well thought-out and researched piece!).

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth this week following our PISA freefall / plummet / disaster (depending on who you read). Although I don’t believe in league tables of any kind, we live in an unfortunate age where people sometimes get their information from infographics and journalists tend to print press releases written by spin doctors without questioning their contents or motivations. PISA makes for good infographics.

People are now asking how we stop the freefall. The New Zealand Herald wants us to be China – after all, it’s important that all our young people coming out of school are able to sit multi-choice tests and remember vast screes of information. That’s where the real money is. In all the jobs I’ve ever had all I’ve ever done is sit down at a desk and answer multi-choice questions. It’s what the workforce is all about.

Sarcasm aside, New Zealand needs many more creative thinkers. We need entrepreneurs. We need people who will turn our little South Pacific dairy-farming paradise into the new Silicon Hobbiton. That’s where the actual money is.

We are not going to achieve any of this by narrowing the curriculum to focus on maths, reading and writing and teaching kids how to sit tests (or memorise kings of England as Michael Gove appears to want).

We are going to achieve this fostering our gifted and talented children – because if we don’t they will turn off school because it will not be meeting their needs as “priority learners.” Of course, some won’t be turned off and will succeed in spite of the education system that holds them back.

Creativity and excellence will be properly fostered by excellent and creative policies.

Although… politicians and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media have never been known for their creativity.

Mr B

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