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09 Aug 2022

Landmark study reveals gifted children are not sufficiently challenged at school

Landmark study reveals gifted children are not sufficiently challenged at school

Over 30% of gifted children reported having to hide their abilities to maintain friendships

A landmark study on gifted education in Ireland has found that gifted students do not feel challenged at school, are rarely offered any differentiated work, and most are frequently bored in the classroom.

Conducted by the Centre for Talented Youth Ireland (CTYI) at Dublin City University, the report describes a learning environment at school that is mostly focused on less able students and on those who were not serious about their learning.

It highlights the need for a more inclusive and effective curriculum framework, one that is delivered at an appropriate pace for high ability students.

The research also found that while socially, most (66%) of the students were resilient and coped well, over 30% reported having to hide their abilities to maintain positive peer relationships. Some students also suggested frequent pressure to achieve from teachers and parents.

Carried out in partnership with William & Mary Center for Gifted Education under the guidance of Professor Tracy Cross and Dr Jennifer Cross, two of the leading researchers in the field of gifted education, this is the first report of its kind profiling gifted students in Ireland and is the basis of ten years of research with 2,600 secondary school students who attended CTYI and are scoring at or above the 95th percentile academically. 

It is hoped the findings will be used to better understand these gifted students and learn how to create environments to support their well-being and to maximise their potential.

Nearly all of the students reported positive academic and social experience at university based courses like CTYI at DCU where they were able to meet like minded peers.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Dr. Colm O’Reilly, Director of CTYI, said:

“Gifted students represent a unique population, with social and academic experiences their peers do not share. While most gifted students have positive psychological profiles, some students will require support for optimal well-being and, ultimately, achievement of their potential.

“Nearly all of the students report feeling bored at school and not being able to go into enough depth in the subjects they like. 

Adults who work with and care for gifted students should be aware of the social challenges presented by their abilities and the need to provide an appropriate curriculum, delivered at an appropriate pace.

This important report adds greatly to our understanding of gifted children in Ireland who are a greatly under researched group. These students need interventions at school to allow them to reach their potential academically and socially"

The report will be officially launched by Roderic O’Gorman T.D., Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, at the first day of CTYI’s summer programme on Monday June 27.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Minister O’Gorman said:

“I’m delighted to launch this landmark study on Irish gifted students and education. Its findings on the experiences of gifted students will be instrumental in improving our understanding of how we can create environments that will not only support the wellbeing of students, but strengthen opportunities to maximise their potential. 

“I would like to thank Dr. Colm O’Reilly, Professor Tracy Cross and Dr Jennifer Cross, for their work in developing this report, and importantly, all of the students who participated in this research.”

To view the report summary or the full report click here.

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