Rukuhia School

Developing Independence
Through Learning
E wahi hari kia akongia
(07) 843 6967
58 Rukuhia Road, RD 2, Ohaupo 3882

Gifted and Talented - What does it mean?

So what are we talking about when we use the term 'gifted and talented'? Gifted and talented students learn, experience and often respond to the world in a different way to most. Giftedness is something that these children are born with and it is often accompanied by lots of challenges for both child and family. Often these students are misunderstood.

Some common misconceptions. 

Contrary to common beliefs, gifted and talented students are not always: 

  • highly motivated
  • polite and well behaved
  • high achievers
  • good at everything they do
  • child prodigies
  • easy to identify
  • able to realise their potential without support


In fact, gifted and talented may: 

  • struggle to achieve at school
  • demonstrate uneven development
  • be highly sensitive or 'intense'
  • be disruptive or unfocused
  • challenge the rules and authority
  • cruise along, doing just enough to get by
  • have difficulty gaining peer acceptance
  • have a physical, neurological or psychological disability, impairment or disorder


The Cheetah is an interesting article about why it is important to identify and address the needs of gifted children, and why achievement on its own is not sufficient to identify all gifted children.

Common terms

These are some of the other terms used to describe this group of learners:

  • Gifted students
  • Talented students
  • Highly able students
  • Exceptional students
  • Gifted and talented students
  • Students with special abilities
  • Students with high potential

Another term often used by schools is GATE. This is short for Gifted and Talented Education. Some schools use the term GAT or GaT when referring to the Gifted and Talented.


Other terms you may hear when educators talk about giftedness are:

  • twice exceptional
  • 2E (short for Twice Exceptional) 
  • multi-exceptional.

These terms all refer to the same concept, that of a child who is exceptional in that they are gifted, but also exceptional in another way as well. For example the student may be gifted and also have an impairment, disability or disorder which results in the need for additional support at school.  For more about this, see the section 'Giftedness as well as a Disability, Impairment or Disorder' on the Characteristics page.


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