Gifted students in rural schools

The problem

We don’t know enough about the experiences of gifted students in rural schools. We suspect they might have different experiences from gifted students in urban schools because in rural areas there is a greater prevalence of small schools, higher rates of teacher and principal turnover, a lower average level of teachers’ experience, and a greater likelihood of teachers teaching out-of-field.

While small schools and classes can facilitate more individualised instruction, the peer group for social interaction may be smaller. Supports for gifted students may also be less accessible in rural schools.

What we did

To identify the current state of knowledge about rural gifted education, Jae Jung, Geraldine Townend, Peta Hay, and Susen Smith from GERRIC did a systematic review of peer-reviewed journal articles that reported the results of peer-reviewed journal articles that reported the results of empirical studies of gifted students in rural schools. 103 studies from 14 countries were included in the GERRIC team’s review, all of which were studies published in the English language from January 2000 to October 2020.


Key findings

  • Culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged rural students are under-identified as gifted.
  • Gifted education provisions are less commonly available in rural schools.
  • Provisions for gifted students in rural schools tend to be slow-paced, repetitive, insufficiently challenging, and irrelevant to students’ experiences.
  • The socio-emotional wellbeing of rural gifted students may be higher than the socio emotional wellbeing of urban gifted students.


Read the full research brief