Gifted children from culturally diverse families

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Gifted children and young people can be found in families from all cultural backgrounds, including families where English is an additional language (EAL) and Koorie families. However, gifted children from these backgrounds may not always be identified, potentially leading to underachievement.

For more information, see Underachievement

The importance of the parent-teacher partnership

Teachers may not always be aware of the knowledge and abilities valued by other cultures. This underlies the importance of developing the parent-teacher partnership. First and foremost, as in any situation where learning needs are present, there needs to be a respectful relationship formed between the family, the educator and the learner.

From this foundation, you can talk with educators about what knowledge is valued by your family and community. This provides the basis on which your child’s level of ability can be identified, followed by planning for their learning needs.

For further information, see: Partnering with schools

English as an additional language and Koorie students

Children from families where English is an additional language (EAL) or Koorie families may be overlooked for signs of being gifted, due to an assumption that outcomes for these students are generally lower than for other students. This can be especially so in the case of Koorie students.

It may also be that the skills and abilities that indicate a child being gifted could become evident in different ways, for example a Koorie child may be a gifted story teller or artist, but this is not identified as being gifted.

Underachievement at any level and in any situation needs to be addressed. The longer it has been occurring, usually the more difficult it is to overcome. Changing the learning situation at school involves identifying the attitudes and possible reasons for the underachievement.

When supporting underachieving students from families from Koorie or EAL backgrounds it is also important to acknowledge that:

  • at times students underachieve in order to belong to a social group or they may have low-academic self-belief
  • the oral tradition is valued by the Koorie people and many other cultures which may mean the child’s formative learning has been by hearing, telling and doing in contrast to the written traditions in mainstream classrooms
  • being a valued family member in a Koorie family is more about being part of the 'team' than standing out from the crowd. This behaviour also transfers to the classroom setting
  • finding a mentor who matches your child’s abilities and personality and who can work with them to overcome attitudes that hinder their learning can be of benefit.

Support for Koorie families

The Department has Koorie Engagement Support Officers and Koorie Education Coordinators in each region that may be able to provide support for parents and teachers.

There are also 32 Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups across Victoria that can support partnerships between Aboriginal families and educational services.

Support for EAL families

The Department also has EAL Regional Program Officers in each region who may be able to provide support to students and families where English is an additional language.