Including the gifted learner: perceptions of South African teachers and principals
We report the findings of a qualitative study embedded in an interpretive paradigm to determine the perceptions of South African primary school teachers and principals regarding the inclusion of learners considered gifted. Eight principals and 16 classroom teachers in the Foundation Phase (Grades 1–3) in public primary schools situated in communities that were representative of the different socio-economic and language groups in the Western Cape province participated in the study. Qualitative data collection methods included in-depth individual semi-structured interviews with the eight principals and two semi-structured focus group interviews with the 16 classroom teachers. Qualitative content analysis revealed the following themes: inclusive education and the learner who is gifted; curriculum differentiation; obstacles to curriculum differentiation; and possible solutions for more effectively including the gifted learner. Despite their diversity in terms of culture, language and positioning by the previous apartheid regime, the participants acknowledged the marginalisation by default of gifted learners. Gifted learners were most often those who were not receiving appropriate education and support and data suggested that a particular drive for the inclusion of gifted learners was absent in the agenda of education authorities.
Keywords: Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model; collaborative support networks; curriculum differentiation; equality of challenge; gifted learners; inclusive education; perceptions; primary schools; school principals; teachers