Gifted and Talented Children

Research report: Views, teaching practices, resourcing and administration issues relating to gifted children in NZ early childhood education


community-based centresTitle:  The education of gifted children in the early years: A first survey of views, teaching practices, resourcing and administration issues.

Authors:  Valerie Margrain and Sarah Alexander

Date:  2012

Journal: APEX: The New Zealand Journal of Gifted Education, 17(1).

Retrieved from   

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This paper reports the findings of a survey of views on the early education of gifted children in New Zealand and identifies where challenges for professional support, resourcing, and educational administration might lie.

The 125 respondents represented a range of roles connected in some way with education and most (71%) also had first-hand experience of caring for or teaching a gifted child. Various views on how giftedness should be defined were expressed, indicating that no agreement on a definition existed. Notwithstanding this, it was considered important to identify if a child was gifted or not. Talking with parents about their child’s abilities, along with formal and informal observation of the child were the preferred methods for identifying giftedness.

The findings suggest further research and consultation on a definition or definitions of giftedness relevant to the early years of education and the developmental characteristics of the young child is needed.

Incongruence between what respondents believed teachers should do and what they actually did in practice on a number of aspects of working with young gifted children was found. Respondents’ suggestions of resources included: ideas for extension activities; identification and assessment tools; and recognition of parents as an important resource for information. Written, online and media resources and the provision of teacher professional development is clearly wanted and should help to raise understanding and knowledge about giftedness whilst also assisting teachers to more fully put beliefs into practice.

In regards to an educational administration question of where responsibility for gifted education should sit within the Ministry of Education 74% of respondents thought it should be brought under the Special Education section, though concerns were expressed the adequacy of resourcing in Special Education. Opinion was more divided on a question of whether gifted children should be permitted to start primary school before their fifth birthday. This question generated the most feedback from respondents covering issues such as acceleration and appropriateness of the school setting for (any) children under-5 years.


Further reading:

Education of Gifted Young Children: Contingency of Views on First-hand Experience and Conception of Giftedness 
A quantitative analysis of data from a New Zealand online survey on gifted education in the early years, conducted by Valerie and Sarah in 2012. 
Volume 18, No. 1, 2013.  Apex Journal.  Authors:  Valerie Margrain, Scott Lee and Sarah.  Available at:



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