Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Education


School of Education

First Supervisor

Professor Caroline Barrat-Pugh

Second Supervisor

Dr Anne Thwaite


In recent years, Western Australian State schools have seen a sharp rise in the number of students who use English as an Additional Language (EAL). Almost one-third of them have been identified as having culturally and linguistically diverse ancestry (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016). Many are gifted and talented (GT). However, while it has been widely acknowledged that GT abilities can be found in all ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups, barriers such as socioeconomic circumstances, stereotypes, political climate, language backgrounds and a myriad of factors can influence the recognition, identification and full participation of EAL students in gifted and talented programs.

Teachers, often the ‘gate keepers’ for gifted services and special programs, play a critical role in the early identification of these students. Their perspectives may be influenced by their beliefs, attitudes, values, professional knowledge and experiences. This study therefore investigated teachers’ perspectives on the identification of, and provisions for, GT/EAL students in the WA State school context through the theoretical lens of social constructivism. This constructivist perspective contextualised the teachers’ social and cultural experiences and provided greater understanding of the circumstances that influence the identification process and the barriers that may prevent the full participation of GT/EAL students in gifted programs. An explanatory mixed methods design was used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data were collected via an online survey, completed by that 50 primary school teachers in the Perth metropolitan area while qualitative data were collected from semi-structured interviews with 15 teachers. The interviewees were representative of the mainstream, the Intensive English Centres and the Early Years Extension teachers. However, none of the teachers were qualified in both gifted and EAL education.

Teachers in this study had a wide range of understandings and perspectives of giftedness and talent. They used both quantitative and qualitative data to identify GT/EAL students, but their choice of instruments varied widely. Provisions for these students were mostly academic extension activities within the classroom, rather than full-time programs. Teachers identified several internal and external barriers to both identification of, and provision for, GT/EAL students. Understanding their perspectives is a crucial step to bring about change and helping improve opportunities for GT/EAL learners to develop to their full potential. The results of the study may influence policy decisions regarding services for gifted and talented EAL students in Western Australian primary schools


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