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Written Answers. - School Curriculum.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 72. Mr. Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  the percentage of pupils at primary and second level who are classed as exceptionally able; the way in which such exceptional ability is recognised; the programmes in place to assist such pupils to achieve their full potential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26810/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey Pupils of exceptional ability may be considered as those pupils who perform at the extreme upper end of the continuum of normal ability in one or more areas, such as the cognitive domain, music, art, sport and creativity. This is often defined as the top 2.5% of pupils relative to their peers.

Exceptional ability is recognised through teacher vigilance and classroom observation, performance on achievement and ability tests, through assessments by educational psychologists and through nomination by parents, teachers and peers.

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 edu[1510]cational 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.

In recent years new syllabi and curricula have been devised for second level schools. These have been devised in such a way that the differing needs of a wide range of pupil ability can be catered for by their teachers. 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.

While content is outlined in the curricula at both levels, process is also heavily emphasised. Enabling children to learn is stressed and facilitated. The development of language skills, investigatory and problem solving skillls, 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 is of benefit in project work with all pupils, they have a special importance for pupils who are exceptionally able.

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, in 2002 my Department provided funding of €80,000 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.

Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 53.

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