The Struggle of Gifted Children

The Footy Almanac welcomes Deakin journalism student Shannon Cole whose first piece looks at some issues surrounding gifted children.




Gifted children across Australia are suffering because the education system in place at many schools does not support them and their needs. According to Dr. Gail Gross, a gifted child is one who has “high-performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership capacity, or specific academic fields”.


Liam Ball was deemed a gifted child at the age of eight but agonised through school because he was not given work that extended his talents. He has audio-processing needs, meaning that he cannot hear properly when there is background noise; however, this was not catered for by his teachers at school.


His mother, Claire Ball, showed his teacher his official testing and IQ. Sadly, she said that “his teacher didn’t believe the IQ score”. Claire described Liam’s schooling in one word. Frustrating.


Both Liam and Claire feel he received no support from his teachers, and when asked how the rest of his schooling was, Liam said that he “stopped paying attention in school and so the work got the better of me and I kind of fell below”.


There is not enough training for teachers on how to identify children with high-order thinking skills, and because of this there are many gifted children not being recognised or challenged appropriately. According to Victoria State Government’s Education and Learning department, if children are not identified early, they are likely to experience feelings of failure. Also, if these children are then not given work that tests their mental ability, they will become frustrated and bored.


Due to the lack of help for her son, Claire Ball developed the Matthew Flinders Program at the school where she teaches, to provide encouragement and extension work for talented children. When asked her opinion on whether teachers need to be better trained, she said that gifted children are “… just as important as another type of need, like a special need”, meaning it is necessary for teachers to be trained so they know the correct way to teach these students. She has found a lot of teachers try to ensure all the children in the class stay at the same level, but research has shown that when highly able children’s abilities are not recognised, they will lack motivation. They can struggle to make friends and if they are not pushed out of their comfort zones by their teachers, then they are likely to give up.


Carol Bainbridge, the mother of a gifted child, states that for many gifted children school can be a painful experience as the school system often does not accommodate them. She goes on to say that the system divides up the children by age but does not take into consideration their mental skills.


Unfortunately, it seems that is gifted children continue to be ignored, they will be unable to reach their full potential because they will be squashed by the education system.







Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Shannon Cole

My name is Shannon Cole and I am 20 years old. I am a journalism student at Deakin University, while also working part-time as a swimming instructor. I got the opportunity to write for The Footy Almanac through one of my university units, and I also have a personal blog where I post articles (, so feel free to check that out. I hope you enjoy my articles and keep an eye out for any new ones I post!


  1. Earl O'Neill says

    Thin edge of the bellcurve aint always an easy place to be.
    Education system is not set up for original creative thinkers, who are more likely to have, say, social issues with 70% of the population.

  2. Shannon, this is not a new issue, although I realise you are not saying that. When we lived in Alice Springs in the late 1980’s, they had a programme to identify gifted & talented children. Our son, then aged about 9, was so identified and was able to attend extra classes and some after school hours sessions and was really enjoying them.

    Upon our return to Adelaide in early 1990 we were told that such facilities did not exist in South Australia and they would not test, or treat our son any differently from the rest of his class. The result was a general meandering through school days, not reaching his potential, which situation exists today at age 40. Not off the rails, but not fully developed.

    The general attitude in education in South Australia, which I consider still persists, is that all children must be dragged down to the average, with special attention for those below that average, but nothing for those above it. May be different in the private schools.

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