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Valerie

Valerie Furphy

Year of Award: 2014 Award State: Western Australia Education > Secondary
To investigate cultural perspectives on sustainable social and emotional strategies that can be implemented by secondary school teachers to support mental health and wellness of gifted adolescents - Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, Slovenia, USA
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For student learning to occur, school leaders must be able to assist and support staff in providing the best possible learning environment. It is well recognised that academically gifted students are a high risk population in terms of mental health, resilience and social and emotional issues.

This Churchill study has investigated cultural perspectives and sustainable practices which support the mental health and wellness of academically gifted students in a culturally diverse secondary school context. The students' primary relationship at school is with the teacher; therefore the central role played by the teacher in providing this support has been explored. The long-term mental health of Australians is crucial as we face increases in mental illness, depression and suicide alongside decreasing funding for programs. Gifted students who develop resilience and coping strategies are more likely to be productive at school and remain resilient long after the school experience. When they leave a supportive school environment our gifted youth need skills and strategies to call on.

This report highlights my interpretation of what I learned through the Churchill Fellowship. As many schools asked not to be identified in terms of their specific concerns, in some cases, rather than commenting on specific schools, I have highlighted their major thoughts and concepts that support gifted learners.

This paper concentrates on two main approaches to supporting the wellness of gifted students. Firstly, through curriculum provision and secondly, through addressing psychological needs. Each section provides a case study school to highlight successful sustainable implementation of that strategy. These are followed by a summation of useful approaches, collected throughout the travel, that are suitable for sustainable implementation.

Individual sections addressing the crucial role of the teacher, the support needed by parents and the cultural considerations for successful support of gifted young people complete the report.

As the aim of the Churchill Fellowship was to look at practical strategies for teachers, these appear throughout the report.

Recommendations for schools and systems appear at the end. The description and analysis are based on my personal observations throughout the Fellowship program.

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