Written answers

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Department of Education and Science

Schools Funding

9:00 pm

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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Question 109: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the proportion of children across the school system considered gifted in their abilities; the supports available to gifted students to support them through the school system; the amount of funding that has been invested by her in programmes for gifted pupils; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43173/10]

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The top 5% is the general criterion used by the Dublin City University Centre for Talented Youth in Ireland as an indicator to teachers of giftedness for purposes of their talent search.

In 2007, "Exceptionally Able students –Draft Guidelines for Teachers" was published jointly by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Council for Curriculum Examinations and Assessment in Northern Ireland. The guidelines identify approximately 5-10% of the population as exceptionally able, with up to 0.5% being profoundly exceptionally able. Giftedness varies on a continuum of ability, and the guidelines advise against relying solely on IQ measures, as exceptional abilities in terms of creativity, art, leadership, social and physical skills may not be identified.

The NCCA/CCEA guidelines are designed to raise awareness of the social, emotional and academic needs of exceptionally able students and to assist teachers in planning their teaching and learning. The guidelines provide advice to schools on identification of gifted children, set out profiles of students, and whole school and classroom strategies and case studies which demonstrate how schools can best meet the needs of such students. The general strategies include differentiated teaching, acceleration and enrichment approaches in the context of participation in mainstream schools.

Further case studies on Curriculum Provision for Exceptionally Able Students were published in March 2010 by the NCCA as part of its participation, with Switzerland and the Netherlands in a CIDREE (Consortium if Institutions for Development and Research in Education in Europe) project.

The Special Education Support Service funded by my Department offers professional development programmes for teachers on strategies for teaching exceptionally able students. The service also makes on-line training available on Teaching Gifted and Talented Students through the Institute of Child Education and Psychology Europe, and provides the resources Signposts, and Metacognition in the Classroom and Beyond: Differentiation and Support for Learners for teachers and schools. In addition, eleven schools are taking part in an Equality of Challenge project, designed to pilot models of educational provision for exceptionally able students.

Looking at our School has been published by my Department as an aid to self evaluation in schools, as part of a quality cycle of school development planning, self appraisal and review. One of the criteria examined at primary and post primary level is the "provision for exceptionally able and talented youth".

www.giftedkids.ie is a website supported by the National Centre for Technology in Education and other organisations which provides information and advice on giftedness for parents and teachers, as well as enrichment opportunities for students. The Centre for Talented Youth in Ireland, based in Dublin City University identifies gifted children through annual talent searches, and provides Saturday and evening classes and summer programmes, support for parents and teachers, as well as undertaking research in the area.

My Department also promotes participation in the Maths and Science Olympiads providing additional training and national and international competition opportunities for gifted students.

My Department does not provide additional resources in respect of gifted children, and the funds expended on curriculum supports and professional development in this area are not readily identifiable separately.

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