Hi, my son will be in intermediate next year and we are zoned for this school. I know they have a gifted programme, and I would like to know if anyone has children in this programme and what they think of it.
I have been watching this post with interest but no response. Glen Eden Intermediate is our zoned school in the future but my son is still much younger. I would love to see what you finally choose and how you find it.
Just bumping to see if there are any parents of GEIS kids out there. As well as wanting to know what their gifted programme is like, I have to say the size of the school is pretty daunting! Does anyone have any experiences they can share?
My son was in Y5 at Kaurilands last year, however, he is achieving high academically and has been really bored at school, particularly in 2011. So we approached GEIS to see if he could be accelerated to Y7 in 2012 and start at GEIS. The answer was no. They wouldn't even consider it. At 10 and a half, he was 'too young' and they said it 'doesn't matter where he is at academically'. They refused to meet with us to discuss, to look at his school report or the assessment report we got when we had him tested as gifted. Now we need to go back to the drawing board. I have to say though, after that reaction, I won't be sending my son to GEIS to see what their GATE program is like - their blunt refusal to even discuss the matter told me as much as I want to know.
@ Elle: The rigidity of the NZ school system with regard to "age for grade" just continues to astound me. 10 and a half isn't even particularly young to be starting intermediate since the Ministry of Ed cut-off (not used by all schools) for year on school entry is end of June, the youngest "conventional" children (like my son, with a late June birthday) would be 10 years 7 months at start of Year 7. My daughter is slightly accelerated (Aug birthday, but she went into Yr 1 rather than Yr 0 when she started school based on achievement testing) so was 10 Years 5 months starting Year 7 and she is not the youngest in her class. She was so bored at the end of Year 7 though, that we looked at whether she could skip straight to Year 9, and got much the same response as you got (although slightly more justified as she would have been REALLY young for Year 9, whereas your son would not be really young (just at the young end) for Year 7).
You are right though that if the response is negative there is really no point in fighting for it because the school won't be on board to make it work and will instead be on the lookout for it not being a success so they can say "I told you so".
The "age for grade" thing is a vicious circle. Because it is done so very rarely, accelerated kids stand out a lot. This increases the chance of social issues. So teachers don't support it, and parents are anxious about it, because of the risk of social issues. So it is done very rarely....
If there was general acceptance that kids should be placed at the level of optimal academic learning (and perhaps then regrouped for sport and PE), without regard for age (which is only supposed to be a proxy for cognitive, social and physical development, but has come to be the absolute, with ACTUAL development levels being disregarded - see the comment from GEIS quoted in earlier post), then kids and teachers would be accustomed to mixed age learning groups. Then the accelerated kids would not stand out as much, and would be accepted and accommodated. So the risk of social issues would be small. So teachers and parents would be comfortable with the strategy, and use it more. So...
After being turned down by GEIS, we applied to Green Bay School which goes to Y8. The Green Bay High School has had good reviews on this forum. They have accepted my son AND my daughter and have said they will do their one academic testing to make sure they are in the right classes, with other students who will challenge them. The associate principal I spoke to mentioned that they would have a flexible plan that would adapt as my son learned new study skills and adjusted to a learning environment that challenged him. Best. Result. Ever. So pleased.
Also, this comes straight from their website (www.greenbay.school.nz):
'The key to understanding composites is realising that growth is determined in stages and not magically by ages.'
'Although a child might be chronologically older or younger - their maturity, social needs, academic needs and behaviour are uniquely their own. Some need stimulating, some need more maturing. Some have needs in certain areas, but not in others. An obvious example is that although all 7 year olds may be the same age, it is unrealistic to expect that they are all at the same level of ability in reading or in PE, etc. even if they are all placed together in one class. Far better that they be grouped according to need, thus they will gain confidence and skill by working with their peer ability level. There is no hard and fast rule that says a ‘straight’ class will meet a child’s needs any better than a composite class. Children all get there, the path may be different but the destination is the same.
Children have always been in multi-aged classes. The ages of kindergarten students range from three years and nine months to five years, a 13 month difference! Yet some children start school barely toilet trained where others are quite mature and are already reading at an advanced level. Same class but different stages.
It makes sense then to group children who are going through the similar stage so they can relate, help and experience together. Even within the same class, children will be at different levels.'
'Straight classes require as much group teaching as composite classes because this is the hallmark of good teaching.'
'In Australia when the NSW Government discussed this matter in parliament, the Minister of Education V. Chadwick said, “Composite classes have always existed in public education and always will. Educational research by experts says that composite classes are not educationally detrimental; for acceleration of gifted students, they are an educational necessity.” '
'Ultimately, whether children are in composite or straight-age classes, it is not the age combinations that matter. What matters is the quality of teaching and learning and the relationship between the child and the teacher.'
Wow that is a cool statement from Green Bay! I have always been wary of composite classes because in our experience (unstreamed composites) they often don't cater to the top kids - especially the top kids in the older age group. The teachers just end up trying to cater for an even wider range than usual and outliers miss out. Also if the composites don't overlap (eg the school has 3/4 classes and 5/6 classes but no 4/5 classes then kids who are officially Year 3 (say) but are already at the top of the Yr 3/4 class, just repeat the year in Yr 4 in the same class and die of boredom.
But true multi-age ability-grouping would be tremendous and it sounds like Green Bay thinks that way.
Just wanted to do an update. My son was placed in a Y5/Y6 composite class which concerned me because he needed extension BEYOND Y6 which is his current age grade. I decided (without telling them) to give them a trial period of 1 term and if I wasn't happy, I'd request he be moved to a higher level class. HOWEVER, can I just say, Green Bay Primary are proving fantastic so far. Early days I know, but I'm so pleased. They've really bumped up the homework, giving him two week projects that are miles ahead of anything he was doing at Kaurilands. He's definitely got peers in his class, despite the Y5/Y6 range because he has told me there are two people that he knows beat him in his maths test and one person that he knows beat him in his spelling test. Also, his teacher has put him forwards for a robotics class that is held every Thursday during class time. He's so excited about that. Already I have seen an improvement in his writing - going from short simplistic answers to longer paragraphs - just from the expectations set by the homework. THANK YOU, GREEN BAY!
Another update in case anyone checks this thread. Green Bay has been a godsend for my son. He has gone from being a lonely boy who was very quiet in class but doing well academically to a boy who laughs and talks and plays with other kids at lunchtime instead of reading on his own. It is marvellous. He's not quite as accelerated academically as he was (still well above his expected grade though) but a much much happier child. Green Bay have selected both him and his sister to participate in their GATE programme which includes an hour out of class each week with other gifted children in their syndicate.
10 months on, I am still convinced that I did the right thing for my children in withdrawing them from Kaurilands and putting them in to Green Bay.