Schools at both primary and second level use strategies such as curriculum differentiation, curriculum enrichment and acceleration to facilitate the development of pupils who are exceptionally able.
Recently devised syllabi and curricula for second-level schools have been designed in such a way to enable teachers cater for the wide range of pupil ability. The revised primary curriculum, which has been supplied to every primary teacher, recognises the importance of developing the full potential of the child and caters for pupil diversity, including meeting the needs of exceptionally able pupils.
Content is outlined in the curricula at both levels and process is also heavily emphasised. Enabling children to learn how to learn is stressed and facilitated. The development of language skills, investigatory and problem-solving skills, higher-order thinking skills and working individually, and as a member of a group, are all encouraged at both levels. While the use of information and communication technologies and the use of class and school libraries are of benefit in project work with all pupils, they have a special importance for pupils who are exceptionally able.
In addition, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), in collaboration with its counterparts in Northern Ireland, the Council for Curriculum Examination and Assessment, has produced draft guidelines for teachers of exceptionally able students. These guidelines issued to all Primary and Post Primary schools in November 2007 along with a questionnaire for feedback. Over the last few months the NCCA has sought feedback on the draft guidelines from teachers, school management and other interested individuals and organisations.
These draft guidelines are designed to raise awareness of the social, emotional and academic needs of exceptionally able students and to assist teachers in planning their teaching and learning. They feature ways in which teaching and learning can be effectively differentiated for such students, in particular how learning skills can be embedded in increasingly complex content. Case studies included in the guidelines present rich real-life contexts which consider the issues around exceptionality through the eyes of teachers, parents and students.
The Special Education Support Service also provides support for school personnel working with talented/gifted students.
The 1998 Education Act requires Boards of Management of each school to publish the policy of the school relating to participation by students with special educational needs, including students who are exceptionally able. The measures schools take in this regard are required to be stated in the school plan. It is the duty of the Board of Management to ensure that appropriate education services are made available to such students.