Dáil Éireann - Volume 616 - 21 March, 2006
Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.
Mr. Connolly Mr. Connolly
737. Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Science the resources she will provide for the particular needs, staffing and materials of gifted children in primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10175/06]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin: Under the terms of the Education Act 1998, it is a function of the board of management of each school to publish the policy of the school relating to participation by students with special educational needs, including students who are exceptionally able. The measures the school take in this regard are required to be stated in the school plan. It is the duty of the board of management to ensure that appropriate education services are made available to such students.
The revised primary curriculum, which has been supplied to every primary teacher, recognises the importance of developing the full potential of the child and caters for pupil diversity, including meeting the needs of exceptionally able pupils. In recent years, new syllabi and curricula have been devised for second level schools. These have been designed in such a way that the differing needs of a wide range of pupil ability can be catered for by their teachers. Part of the National Centre for Curriculum and Assessment’s, NCCA, work programme for this year is the development of curriculum guidelines for exceptionally able pupils.
While content is outlined in the curricula at both levels, process is also heavily emphasised. Enabling children to learn how to learn is stressed and facilitated. The development of language skills, investigatory and problem solving skills, higher order thinking skills and working individually and as a member of a group are all encouraged at both levels. While the use of information  and communication technologies and the use of class and school libraries are of benefit in project work with all pupils, they have a special importance for pupils who are exceptionally able.
Of particular significance at second level are the international Olympiads in the science subjects, information technology and mathematics, in which the exceptionally able and highest achieving pupils compete. There is also an increase in the number of teachers who are adopting approaches to teaching thinking skills such as de Bono’s programme, Feuerstein’s instrumental enrichment and Lipman’s philosophy for children.
In general, schools at both primary and second level attempt to use strategies such as curriculum differentiation, curriculum enrichment and acceleration to facilitate the development of pupils who are exceptionally able. In addition, the Department of Education and Science provides annual funding to the Centre for Talented Youth at Dublin City University to support its work in delivering programmes, which are designed specifically for exceptionally able children of first and second level age. This year’s grant is €95,000.
There are no proposals to allocate additional resources to schools to cater for gifted children.
Dáil Éireann 616 Written Answers. Special Educational Needs.