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.