Educating the gifted student of mathematics in primary schools: What works in practice

Dimitriadis, Christos (2014) Educating the gifted student of mathematics in primary schools: What works in practice. In: The 11th International Conference on: Excellence in Education: The Creativity – Innovation Challenge; 07-10 Jul 2014, Paris, France. (Unpublished)


There is a paucity of research investigating aspects of provision for gifted children within primary schools, particularly in mathematics. This study aimed to address this topic by illuminating issues arising from classroom practice and the experience of both teachers and children. The study was conducted in London (UK). It involved a questionnaire survey within five Local Educational Authorities and in-depth case studies in four primary schools, which were implementing different methods of provision for mathematically gifted children (i.e. within-class ability grouping, setting, pull-out grouping and mentoring). The study found that although schools were trying their best, challenge and extension for gifted mathematicians were limited in practice, and the needs, both cognitive and affective, of these children were not always addressed. The effectiveness of the methods used by schools was depended on the level of focused attention given to gifted children, the quality of teachers’ instruction, the size of the class, and the nature of work set. The study also identified issues associated with teachers’ professional development and the way that organizational provision methods (e.g. setting) were implemented, which need consideration and further research. The study concludes that the education of mathematically gifted children is not an easy matter that can be addressed simply by separating students into ability groups and giving more difficult work to more able ones. Gifted mathematicians are exceptional students, who have special needs, and because of this they need well-trained teachers, attention, continuous support, and work at higher cognitive levels to develop their full potential.

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