A decade of enriching young minds

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Enrich@ILT pupils Liam Sheehan (left, 10), of Wind sor North School and George Thomson (10) of St Theresa's School hard at work in the classroom last week. Photo: Petrina Wright

FOR 10 years Enrich@ILT has been enriching, challenging and extending hundreds of gifted and talented young minds in Invercargill, but prime mover Marlene Campbell says it still has a way to go to achieve its original “lofty goal”.

“It is hugely successful… The children here are very engaged and happy in their learning, she said.

“[But] my ultimate goal hasn’t been achieved.”

Enrich@ILT is a learning centre dedicated to gifted and talented education for children 7-11 years old identified as having outstanding academic and/or creative ability.

Centre manager Paul Anderson-Kereti said the centre provided “an opportunity to grow [pupils’] talents, understand and manage their gifts, and meet like-minded learners in a supportive, enriched environment.”

It was brainchild of Ms Campbell, who was an Invercargill primary school principal at the time. She now teaches at the centre.

Ms Campbell said 10 years ago all schools’ special education grant funding was for supporting “differently-abled learners” at the remedial end of the scale and there was no funding left for children who needed accelerating or extension learning.

“I felt there was an imbalance. Gifted learners, for me, should be [included] under the special education umbrella.”

The centre opened on June 22, 2009, with a roll of 55 thanks to support from 23 Invercargill primary schools and funding from the Invercargill Licensing Trust (ILT) and ILT Foundation.

Enrich@ILT pupils Moana Miller (left, 8) of St Theresa’s School and Jemma Mackay (11) of Otatara School.

It was thought to be the first of its kind in the South Island at that time.

This year there were 147 pupils enrolled at the centre, but the roll had reached 180 at times.

Ms Campbell said she was proud of what had been achieved in the past decade, but her original vision for the programme had not yet been realised.

The original vision involved specialist Enrich@ILT teachers working closely with the pupils’ classroom teachers to devise an individualised programme to ensure the learners were challenged every day, she said.

She admitted it was a “lofty goal”.

The children spend one day a week at the centre and return to their normal studies for the remaining four days.

Ms Campbell said if gifted learners were not challenged at school there was a risk they could become bored and disengaged from their learning.

“We want them gifted and challenged five days a week, that was the goal.”

The reason this had not been achieved was due in part to a lack of resources and because teachers were “too buried under their workloads”, she said.

Mr Anderson-Kereti said staff and pupils planned to celebrate the 10-year anniversary later in the year.

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