For years, the government has ignored what can only be described as the ‘plight’ of Exceptionally Able children in Irish classrooms. The NCCA did its bit by producing the Draft Guidelines. However, there was never a wholesale attempt to develop those aspects of teacher training and practice across the school sector that would see Exceptionally Able children recognised as deserving of specific intervention on, at least, some level.
In January I and Dr. Catherine Riordan and Karen McCarthy, as part of our campaign to raise awareness of the needs of Exceptionally Able children decided to write to various political parties. We had some contacts with Fine Gael and Labour. We wrote expressing simply ‘what’ gifted children were, that they often go unrecognised in Irish schools and that whole school performance could be improved if such needs were addressed in teacher practice.
We are very pleased that Fine Gael has now included Gifted students in their manifesto. Under the section appropriated titled ‘Quality and Standards’, the Fine Gael Manifesto states:-
“Gifted Students: We will examine the supports in place for gifted students and create improved links with third level institutions on a regional basis, to provide gifted students with access to new programmes or educational resources.”
This is the first time that a political party in Ireland has recognised the needs of gifted students and made specific provision for them. We are extremely pleased with this success. We look forward to working with a new government to move the issues of gifted children out of the dark corner in which they have for too long sat into the light of a brand new day.
First of all congratulations on getting a political party to recognise the gifted issue. I think that is a very positive step and for them to even acknowledge. I think I sound a bit silly but what exactly to do they mean in there statement.
I know that the SESS have pilot programmes in place about providing gifted training for secondary school teachers. As of yet there is no recognition for the Primary school do not get me wrong I know that Rome was not built in a day!!!. Is this statement only concerned with third level. Or are they talking about looking at the teacher training colleges and examing the way new programmes could be develop to provide the supports for all levels in gifted education. Sorry about this just wondering could anyone shed any light on this for me.
Thanks for your comment but it really is a collective effort on different levels from all the advocates in Ireland. I’ve been involved with community organisations for many years and if I learned one thing from that it is if you want something, you have to go after it. I think this is a positive development, arguably the most important since the Education Act 1998 which gave recognition to children of exceptional ability. Like any policy statement, it is an expression of intent. The hard work has yet to come. Peter