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More than 600 participants from Australia and around the world will gather at UNSW Sydney from Thursday for the four-day World Gifted Conference of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC).

The biennial celebration of the international gifted education community, which has the theme Global Perspectives in Gifted Education, is hosted by UNSW School of Education and will bring together researchers, teachers, parents, students and practitioners to discuss, exchange and debate ideas in gifted education.

Keynote speakers will include NSW Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott, University of Helsinki's Professor Kirsi Tirri and Seoul National University's Dr Seon-Young Lee.

At a ceremony at Clancy Auditorium on Thursday afternoon, conference delegates will be welcomed by UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs, WCGTC President Associate Professor Denise Fleith and NSW Shadow Minister for Education Mr Jihab Dib.

The welcome will be followed by the conference’s first keynote address, delivered by Dr Jim Watters, Adjunct Professor in Education at Queensland University of Technology with more than 30 years’ experience as a science teacher and science teacher educator.

His address will outline how some gifted students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects lose their initial curiosity and interest as they progress through school, and highlight approaches being implemented that show potential to address the waning interest of these gifted students.

UNSW has a long history in gifted education, particularly through the work of Emeritus Professor Miraca Gross who will give several presentations during the conference. The School of Education is a world-leader in pioneering and innovative work in gifted education, and its GERRIC unit has been a focal point for research and practice in gifted education since the early 1990s.

Dr Jae Jung, a senior lecturer in the School of Education and a GERRIC senior research fellow, believes gifted students are the most neglected in Australia’s education system because teachers are not being given the training they need to meet these students’ special needs.

“In NSW all teachers are required to complete, as part of their pre-service tertiary education, compulsory units in working with students who have English as a second language, students of Indigenous background, and students who have special needs (i.e. disabilities, learning difficulties, autism etc). In contrast, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) does not require university pre-service teacher training programs to have a separate compulsory unit in gifted education,” he says.

On Saturday, Dr Jung will present an analysis of gifted education practices and discuss the implications and recommendations for future research and practice.

In his keynote address on Friday morning, Mark Scott will discuss a new Department of Education policy designed to lift the achievement of the brightest students, regardless of their backgrounds, to ensure that all students can achieve their potential.

The full program, including abstracts, can be found here.

See more conference updates on Twitter #WCGTC17