St Cuth's is a Yr 1-13 school, so there'll be different ways of catering for gifted kids depending on their age. Have you talked to the people responsible for GATE at the school to ask them how they provide for gifted students' needs? There is lots on offer there.
Not kids of my own, but several friends have daughters there and some of my former students now attend there and they're involved in all sorts of wonderful opportunities. I've been there for conferences a couple of times and it is a beautiful environment.
We went along last year to St. Cuthberts to have a look at the open day and met the Year 7 & 8 HOD/Dean. We enquired about maths extension as our daughter is a super mathematician (Strategy Level 8 at the beginning of Year 5). I previously had contacted the Ministry of Education to find out about these levels and she was indeed doing pretty well.
We received a very mean response being - wait for this - 'just because your daughter is a star at her own primary school, doesn't mean she will be a star here!!!!' Well - our daughter is the opposite of a star child being extremely humble about her abilities and not pushy at all. She just has an amazing memory and can apply the knowledge to maths problems very easily.
We really just wanted to know if she would be catered for and also not alone as isolation as a student is the worst possible thing. Now I imagine that there were other kids doing similar things there but all they had to say was - 'great - look forward to working with her!'
So I literally marched down the St Cuthberts driveway dragging my husband out and never want to return. They lost a delightful, gutsy, sporty, very bright all-rounder that day but I don't think they would care!
So we went over to St. Mary's College in Ponsonby and and it is the most fantastic school around. Lovely girls and a lovely environment of teaching/teachers - our daughter has been completely happy there since day 1. They rotate with specialist teachers for every class every 50 mins so no time to be bored and the teachers are just great - younger i.e not 65, enthusiastic and most of all specialist for their subject.
went to open day and spoke to friend who's daughter had wonderful opportunities at St. Cuths. Our daughter is a year up and 4 yrs up in maths at current public school, but still very bored. She also attends OneDaySchool.
Spoke to Principal about placement of gifted children. She was very friendly and said all children have individual education plans and can be catered for at any level. She mentioned there were many gifted children at St. Cuths. They also have a specialist GATE coordinator whom we met. She also was very welcoming to a socially awkward but very bright youngster.
Because they have so many options......foreign languages, drama, arts, music, sports, special interest clubs it is easier to keep an active mind "alive".
The resources there are far more than at the public school but the price tag reflects that.
My name is Angela Bell and I am the Director of the Personalised Learning Centre at St.Cuthberts College . I was appointed May 2010. The overarching goal of the PLC is to work alongside our outstanding classroom teachers to identify and personalise learning for our diverse learners - this includes students who are working above and/ or below their expected level within the St Cuthberts community. Please see our website for a full description. I completed a Masters degree in Education in 2011 of which my research report was curriculum models in gifted education and their relevance within the NZ education system. My personal area of interest and expertise is gifted education. Whilst my job decription is quite broad, one of my roles is to provide professional development for all teachers in gifted practices and gifted children. We cater primarily for students within the classroom programme ( best practice) but we also provide withdrawal programmes and individualised programmes if and when required - this is defined by student need not necessarily parental demand. I have engaged with the theory and practice of gifted education for ten years and it is both a complex and involved area of special education.
I am only responding to this forum as I believe that you have posted an inaccurate representation of the school and our response to gifted students. Firstly, we do not have a Year 7&8 HOD - we have a Dean for each year level and so I am not sure who you spoke to. I believe that whoever you spoke to was simply trying to articulate the personalised approach and philosophy which underpins best practice for gifted students. We do offer maths enrichment programmes and even accelerated learning opportunities but we cannot promise that any student will automatically be placed as we would need to decide what level she is working at within our cohort. Surely you have no objection to that. The teacher that I believe you are referring to who has since retired, is an outstanding practitioner who provided a challenging programme for all of her students. I find it appalling that you are willing to be so derogatory on such a forum about one conversation that you had with one teacher. If I was choosing a school for my daughter I would investigate further and speak to more people within the institution.
I do not work in isolation, we engage as a team of professionals who deeply desire the best outcome for all students. I find your comment about the age of our staff to be offensive and untrue. We have a cross section of ages of teachers and your comment insinuates that old teachers are no longer relevant or able to be effective practitioners. In my experience I have often found the opposite to be true. St. Cuthberts College has been a top performing school , punching above its weight both in academic and sporting endeavours for a number of years. Our staff constantly engage with what is best practice and we welcome proactive critical reflections on our approaches for all students, including gifted children.
I do wish that you had spoken with more people and I do regret that you have found it necessary to write such a derogatory response a year after the event necessitating this response. Further, "anon" provides me with no person to respond to.
One of my other roles is to teach TOK for the IB diploma at Year 12 and 13. I encouarge and demand students to question the sources of information and to investigate many opinions and viewpoints before coming to a decision or claiming certainty about a knowledge position.
I do wish that you had spoken to me and I welcome a conversation at any stage. Whilst I am an employee I feel offended that such a wonderful institution has been so poorly represented by your single experience. I am not surprised to hear that your daughter is happy and that St Mary's is a good school. I wish her well for her future.
I have got to say that your response has put your school in an even worse light. In future I would recommend that you calm down and think carefully about how you wish to be perceived before posting in such forums.
I have to totally disagree Anon. I welcome Angela's response to the post and I believe her comments were fair and no doubt accurate as far as she understands it. It is a shame that Anon (whether you or a different Anon) didn't look at St Cuths further than talking to the one individual. I have always stated - you can have the best school in the world, but if you don't click with the teacher it's useless. I too have come across individual teacher's who have not understood giftedness and have tried to disprove my children's giftedness - one of whom is 2E - dyslexia. I can't speak for St Cuthberts as I have no personal knowledge of the school - we homeschool! However I think it's great that a teacher from the school has taken the time to acknowledge a post on this forum and reply to it. That is how we get fair and constructive conversations going which is especially important when trying to determine what's best for our children.
While perhaps annoyed, I don't believe Angela has come across in her post as anything but calm.
I hope that everyone who visits and takes the time to post on this forum also takes the time to listen to what others have to say - especially if it's opposite to what we believe.
I have read these posts with interest. I joined St Cuth's staff as a part-time GATE specialist last year, working alongside Angela. As a parent of gifted girls, I spent my first few months marvelling at the opportunities available to the students there, the skill and knowledge of the classroom teachers and the value placed on learning and on service. Indeed, I wish I had been able to send my girls there!
We put huge effort into identifying our gifted students and monitor them closely. We are concerned not only about their academic progress but about their social and emotional well-being at school. There is a range of provision and the staff try very hard to be responsive to students' needs. Angela has outlined our approach clearly and accurately. We are both passionate about gifted education and bring a high level of expertise and experience to our work with students and teachers.
I encourage any parent reading the Forum who is considering St Cuth's for their daughter to make contact with us in the Personalised Learning Centre as well as talking to the admissions staff and year level Dean.
Anon, I'm sure that your daughter will do well at St Mary's. It is a great school, though I have to admit to some bias, having taught there for 10 years although that was a while ago!
(for the record, I haven't posted under any name in this thread up til now).
I have great respect for St Cuths, have attended Open Days and talked to staff, and have dreamt of sending my daughter there, unfortunately the finances mean no. However, I too was rather taken aback by the tone of Angela Bell's post above. She was obviously very angered by the earlier poster's criticism, but the old reminder about writing in anger and then waiting to cool down before posting probably applies. To me as a parent, the post came across as unnecessarily defensive and angry, and made me wonder whether St Cuths is so used to being praised and adored and winning everything and richer than everyone and top top top that they simply couldn't conceive that someone didn't want/like them?
I usually post under Anon but there are enough of them here, so, today I am "T".
This is my first post on this thread too btw. FWIW, I know nothing about St Cuthberts; the school is not an option for us - I don't even know where it is. But I do think the thread has raised some issues that are relevant to *any* parent of a gifted child when considering school choices. So I feel it's appropriate to post.
Angela Bell - although your response appears to me to be calm and not angry, I think perhaps what will irritate some parents and make them wary of your school is the message conveyed that "Anon" is inaccurate in her (we'll assume a female) perception of the school. The reality is that there are gifted friendly and gifted unfriendly teachers *everywhere* and that sometimes parents and teachers, or children and teachers do NOT "click". Clearly the Anon who posted on here had a bad enough experience to post her view. So why jump to the school's defense automatically and assume the parent is wrong, or inaccurate about the school, or, somehow wrong for posting a year after the event?? Anon may have taken her daughter out but if the teacher or culture at the school is still present, then, her comment is relevant today.
As a parent of gifted children, I look for several things in a school. The first is anti-bullying policies (as 'different' children often get bullied). The second is the presence of like-minds. The third obviously is how the academic, social and emotional needs of the highly gifted are met. But the fourth, and equally important, is how the school responds to any concerns from parents. Will the GATE coordinator and/or senior management etc consider what I am saying? Or will the first response be to defend the teacher and school and assume the parent is wrong? If the latter holds, then IMO the school is unsuitable.
Your response was to dismiss Anon's concerns. As a parent that rings very loud alarm bells. You also find it appalling that Anon made derogatory comments. Although I think we need to keep it "nice", as a parent of gifted children I find it absolutely imperative to hear criticism of schools we may be considering. We're all on this forum with one goal - the best interests of the children. And if that means sharing a negative experience about a school, then so be it. It is not appalling - it may well be helpful to others.
If I was the one considering St Cuthberts I'd have personally been more impressed if you had posted who you were, said that Anon's comments disturbed you, asked for Anon to email you with information about who the teacher was so you could investigate further. Instead, your response has been to assume that the teacher was in the right, and, attack Anon, the parent.
To the Anon who took her daughter out and sent her to St Mary's. How fabulous that it is working out. It sounds like the right choice for your family.
I agree with T's saying. As a parent of gifted children, we look for school catering to the gifted children. It is important how the school responds to any concerns from parents.
But in fact, lots of gifted children are not catered very well by school. are they challenged? encourages? taught effectively? reach potential? For the school - what's valued and encouraged. Does the shcool has very few resources and little interest in gifted education?
We are aware of the special need of gifted students and of the importance of providing them with an educational environment that offers maximum opportunities to devlop their special abilities.
But teachers always said we are "pushy" parents. We want to say we don't want to be pushy but I do want her needs catered for.
We wish our child can be taught effectively and get the challenging education, reach her potential.
I have nothing to do with any of the schools mentioned. I am a teacher though and I feel quite offended that anon thinks there is something wrong with being 65 and still teaching. I know teachers of that age who are lively, enthusiastic and, best of all, bring decades of experience to their jobs. Younger teachers often turn to them for guidance. I know that not all older teachers are marvellous, but the same can be said of younger teachers too.
It is valuable for us parents to hear the effort St Cuthberts puts into their personalised learning.
I hope it is also valuable for those working in St Cuthberts to realise how just one employee speaking insensitively can not only put off one family, but also have repercussions (like this conversation) much later in the future.
Hmmmm... I hestitate to post this as I don't want to add 'fuel' to the fire but I genuinely hope this feedback is useful and constructive for Angela Bell (Director of the Personalised Learning Centre at St Cuthberts).
Whilst I appreciate that Angela clearly has a degree of professional seniority, one thing that struck me was the difference in empathy between her and Sue Barriball's response (with Sue being - current or past - a part-time GATE specialist at St Cuthberts).
I've had the pleasure of speaking with Sue fairly recently - I contacted her out of the blue and found her to be incredibly knowledgable, supportive, empathetic and friendly. My guess is that Angela might very well be the same - unfortunately though it didn't quite come through in the general 'tone' of her email.
It just reinforced to me how sensitive we can all be - parents and teachers alike - in an area which is often fraught. Especially as many of us are intense and sensitive ourselves!
Have read all the posts and thought I would reply as a parent with a daughter at the school. Please let me start out by saying I'm an extremely hard cookie to please, but in the three and a half years my daughter has been there she has been given a wealth of extension opportunities that have engaged and kept her challenged.
In my dealings with the school I have found all the teachers to be extremely professional, approachable and open minded, this includes the head of the junior school Elizabeth Battersby. Their reporting is excellent and I feel confident that I know exactly where my daughter is at.
I can also report that I know a few girls at the school who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia which is also excellently catered for, based on the feedback of the parents of the girls I know.
I would certainly recommend that if you can afford the fees, then at least go and have a look and make your mind up based on an informed decision.
Interesting, I also have a friend with a (gifted) daughter at St Cuthbert's, and know that they worked very hard to settle her into the school and she is thriving there. This included remedial lessons in some areas, extension in other areas and social/emotional help to establish friends and integrate into the school/peer community. This is more than most public schools would be able to provide obviously.
I suspect that like most of these schooling decisions it depends a lot on the child/family, how their giftedness manifests itself, how the family deals with schooling issues (which can escalate quickly into unpleasant situations, this forum is full of examples), and what the family expects from a school.
This is a very interesting topic, and google has bought me here. As i'm looking for schools right now for my 4 year old daughter. St Cuthbert's has made my mind up. Is there anyone here that could help me with admission for my daughter? Thank you.
You can contact the admissions office and they will provide you with all the information that you require.
It was never my intention to offend anyone by my comments on this forum. I welcome any opportunity to talk to anyone with regards to our approach to diverse learnes within the College and particularly gifted and talented children. Those that know me well, will know that I feel passionate about the marginalised and particularly students who require interventions that are qualitatively and quantitatively different from the norm. I am also a critically reflective practitioner constantly looking at ways to refine practice and am open to critique as long as it is fair and reasonable. The idea that someone can anonymously place a " damaging comment" about a school without the opportunity to be challenged about the accuracy of the comment does disturb me somewhat. I realise that this forum is an opportunity for parents to find information but it is really disappointing when schools are painted in a bad light with little means of offering an alternative perspective. Further, whilst not perfect, i do know that the school is constantly looking for ways to cater for students to ensure best outcomes. This will be a continual work in progress..
I will no longer post any comments within this forum but if anyone would like to email me or talk with me about what we provide for students, I would be happy to answer these questions. It is a difficult journey at times and one can only do their best. I believe that " in the flesh" I am a reasonable, likeable person- Sue Barriball might vouch for this!!!