Gifted and talented students

Guidelines

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All children should have the opportunity to maximise their educational potential through challenging, comprehensive and purposeful educational experiences that are appropriate to their level of development, experience and understanding.  At Christ Church Grammar School, we strive to provide these experiences for all students, including those who are achieving at a level beyond their peers, while nurturing the qualities of resilience and perseverance and the overall wellbeing of the student.

The objective of this policy is to ensure the provision of learning and challenge appropriate to academically gifted and talented students’ ability, maturity and individual strengths and weaknesses, across the entire school.

Responsible staff

The Director of the Centre for Excellence works with the Co-ordinator for the Centre for Excellence in the Preparatory School to administer this policy, in close consultation with the Directors of Studies, Director of Pedagogy, Heads of Department, Heads of Houses, Year Group Co-ordinators and teachers in the Senior and Preparatory Schools. Together, these staff members work towards continuous improvement of the education of gifted students, ensuring that they are offered a range of extension opportunities that cater for their different levels of ability and interest, within an overall culture of excellence.

Definition of Gifted and Talented

Christ Church Grammar School recognises that a person who is gifted is someone who has the potential to perform at a level significantly above what we would expect for their age.  Giftedness is recognised as those students who achieve in the top 10% in any subject area on tests of intellectual potential (Gagné, 2009 – see Appendix A).  Giftedness defines outstanding potential rather than outstanding performance.  Talent is defined as achievement or performance at a level significantly beyond what might be expected at a given age.

Identification

The identification of a child’s giftedness is an ongoing process as gifts grow and change.  The School uses numerous standardised tools to identify both high potential (Allwell and AWMA) as well as high performance students (PAT, NAPLAN and above level testing).  For a variety of reasons, the School attracts a significant number of gifted students with a wide range of strengths and there is a focus on talent in most programs across the academic, co-curricular and sporting domains.

Students who have been identified as having potential but are underachieving will be brought to the attention of teachers so that appropriate provisions can be made. Research shows a strong link between improved academic performances of these students and higher teacher expectations, as well as regular and effective use of pre-tests, higher order questioning and differentiated programming and strategies in their classrooms.

The purpose of the identification process is to identify the specific needs of individuals along a continuum of levels of ability, which depends upon a diversity of information. Christ Church Grammar School recognises that some students, while undoubtedly showing evidence of giftedness, may not be suitable for all types of provision due to the presence of dual exceptionality or social-emotional issues.

Educational provisions

Christ Church Grammar School acknowledges that different interventions are appropriate for students at different ages and circumstances.  We also recognise that some students may have the potential to succeed but not the necessary skills and may need support to address both their learning difficulty and area of giftedness.

Acceleration

Acceleration allows a student to move through school at a faster rate than usual and/or a younger age than usual.  Acceleration allows students to progress at something closer to their natural or preferred rate of learning.

Acceleration of gifted students has been extensively researched with findings consistently showing that acceleration is positive and can be the most effective among a suite of educational options for suitable students.  A common concern raised by teachers and parents about the suitability of acceleration is the perception that a child does not have the social skills to succeed in an accelerated placement.  Research consistently shows that the opposite is true and that students either socially thrive or do no worse in an accelerated placement.

Acceleration at Christ Church Grammar School may entail a full year skip or, alternatively, subject acceleration.  When a student has been identified as a possible candidate for acceleration, a group of teachers including the classroom teacher, the Director of the Centre for Excellence, and the Director of Studies (relevant sub-school), decide if the student is a good candidate for subject or whole grade acceleration.  The Iowa Acceleration Scale (3rd Ed. 2009) is used to confirm suitability for whole grade acceleration.  This is the most widely accepted and research-based tool to assist schools in making a thorough and objective decision about whether or not acceleration is suitable for an individual student.  The decision on whether to accelerate or not may also include issues such as the child not wishing to be accelerated, or the acceleration of a student putting him into the same year as their older sibling. Parents are consulted throughout this process and the group meets subsequently to discuss the acceleration and ways to continually support the student and receiving teachers.

Early admission to Pre-Primary: If parents approach the school looking to enrol their son prior to achieving the minimum age for school entry based on their beliefs that their son is gifted, the Gifted Education Consultant at AISWA will need to be consulted well in advance of the enrolment cut-off date, as schools are required to submit evidence of the child’s giftedness and ability to cope in the proposed accelerated placement.  Evidence should include a formal IQ assessment from a psychologist, evidence about the child’s reading, writing, play and fine motor skills along with anecdotal evidence from parents about early developmental milestones.

Where accelerants have particularly high intervention needs, the Director of the Centre for Excellence will develop teaching strategies profiles for the student and work with tutors to ensure appropriate pastoral care.

In the Senior School, students complete some Year 12 ATAR courses in Year 11, and some students have the opportunity to complete units from university courses while at School.

Pastoral care

Christ Church Grammar School is particularly proud of its reputation for supporting and nurturing its students, including those who are identified as gifted and talented. The House system, including vertical age groupings, provides younger boys with older peers who act as role models and mentors. Tutors monitor the social-emotional wellbeing and academic performance of the students in their group and assist them with goal-setting, time management and issues such as perfectionism.

Preparatory School

The following interventions are used to cater for gifted students within the LW Parry Preparatory School.

Curriculum differentiation

It is the School’s intention to ensure all teachers in the Preparatory School are skilled in differentiating the teaching and learning within their classroom, so that students of all abilities can learn and experience challenge at their level of ability.

Ability grouping

Ability Grouping is used within classes and across year level teams.  Research shows that some characteristics of gifted and talented students are better catered for by ability grouping.  Potential as well as performance is taken into account.  It is important that groups should also accommodate gifted underachievers in the class setting. Interaction with others of similar ability allows gifted students the opportunity to work hard and occasionally struggle.  Boys are grouped by ability for different subjects within the classroom program, for example, spelling and reading and within the year level for Mathematics in Years 3-6.  Ability grouping for enrichment and extension is based on performance; however, gifted underachievers will be given opportunities in class settings, where possible, to work with ‘like-minded’ peers.

Cluster grouping

Cluster grouping is used when small groups of boys have been identified and placed together in a regular classroom, allowing teachers to plan tasks that are challenging for the group who can mix with others of a similar ability as well as their own age peers.

Enrichment programs

Using results from screening, further assessment is undertaken for inclusion in enrichment programs and only those students who meet set criteria are included as places are limited.

The focus of these programs varies from semester to semester and between year levels, therefore assessment criteria changes.  This enables us to cater for a wider range of student achievement.  It also means that inclusion in one enrichment program does not ensure automatic entry into subsequent programs.

  • Philosophy and Literacy: Students from Pre-Primary to Year 4 are offered a range of literacy-based programs based on oral language, reading comprehension, creative writing and viewing
  • Robotics:Students in Year 4, identified through internal testing, participate in Robotics
  • Future Problem Solving: This international educational program focuses on the development of critical, creative and futuristic thinking skills. It is offered to identified boys in Years 5 and 6 .

Mathematics extension

In Years P–3, identified students are withdrawn for extension lessons once or twice a week, in addition to the class Mathematics program.  In a smaller group situation, the program can be more closely tailored to cater to the needs of the boys who will benefit from being exposed to more challenging concepts.

In Years 4–6, boys are tested for placement in the Mathematics Extension class, which occurs four times a week, alongside the class Mathematics program. These classes cater for mathematically talented boys who will benefit from learning at a faster speed, studying topics to a higher level and working with boys of similar ability. More challenging material is introduced, in addition to the general year curriculum, and there is the opportunity for the students to be involved in group activities, competitions and enrichment activities. During the year, boys may be added to the extension class or moved back to a different class group if the level of challenge being provided is not appropriate for their developmental levels.

Competitions

There are a number of competitions that able students are able to participate in over the year.  Competitions such as International Competitions and Assessments for Schools, more commonly referred to as ICAS, take place over the year including Technology, Science, Spelling, Writing, English and Mathematics. Other competitions are advertised throughout the year, aimed at engaging able students with our most able mathematicians entered into a number of different events.

Extra-curricular

There are a wide variety of co-curricular opportunities in the Preparatory School that offer boys the ability to extend their learning around their interest base. Within the Music program there are many ensembles and choirs aimed at engaging our able musicians.  There are also a number of after school clubs on offer such as chess, the da Vinci Decathlon, animation, coding, science and aviation. These clubs offer opportunities for able students to be supported and challenged in a social, engaging setting, appealing to their individual strengths and interests. These clubs regularly change over the year and some clubs are invitation only.

Senior School

The following interventions are used to cater for gifted students within the Senior School.

Curriculum differentiation

The principles of the Christ Church Pedagogy (catering for individual differences, providing structure and feedback and enhancing personal bests) draw upon an evidence-based, specific set of guidelines for boys, parents, teachers and administration with the goal of increasing boys’ motivation.

In addition, Christ Church provides all staff with the opportunity to refine their understanding of different aspects of gifted and talented education through a series of in-house, customised professional learning modules that apply the principles of the Certificate of Gifted Education. These modules include relevant theoretical principles as well as guided activities to support appropriate planning, pedagogy and pastoral care for our most able students. A significant number of teachers complete these modules every year. We therefore ensure that all of our teachers are able to support the needs of our gifted and talented students.

Extension classes

Years 7 – 10 students identified as gifted or talented are placed in an extension class in Mathematics, while students from Years 8 – 10 are placed in an extension class in the subjects of English, Humanities and Science. The emphasis in these sets is on accelerated pace and breadth, avoiding duplication of content that will be covered in later years. Students cover core concepts effectively, while extending their higher order understandings through wide-ranging exploration of topics of interest. Rigour and challenge, rather than pressure, are the desired outcomes.

Selection for these sets is made on a subject-by-subject basis at the end of every year. Typically, there will be about 25 students in each extension class and about 40 to 50 students in every year group will be placed in at least one extension class. Subject specialist teachers provide a fully modified teaching and learning program that combines specific curriculum and teaching techniques to provide content that is several years higher in terms of difficulty, but also more complex and abstract in nature. The assessment program is also modified. Where necessary, teachers design a differentiated learning program even within extension classes.

Enrichment programs

Elective classes such as Mobile App development, Bioinformatics, and Astrophysics Music Extension and Global Perspectives: International Law and Politics provide further extension for our most talented students.

Extra-curricular

A wide range of extra-curricular activities is available, including:

  • The Enigma Program runs weekly after school throughout the year for a limited, invited number of students. It is staffed by three teachers who bring different expertise and passions. The boys collaborate with like-minded peers in different year levels, working on high-level, open-ended projects of their own choice.  Older mentors and staff lead and support them. Typically, 10 – 15 students from each of Years 7, 8 and 9 are selected; Year 7 and 8s are team members, Year 9s are leaders and Years 10 – 12 boys are mentors. Groups work towards a final project presentation to parents and assembly in Term 4. The goals of Enigma are to:
    • teach the importance of a growth mindset and of a number of related characteristics and lessons from research relevant to students of high academic potential
    • foster an authentic love of learning
    • develop students’ ability to be flexible, take intellectual risks and show curiosity
    • improve time management and collaboration
    • encourage persistence and resilience.
  • Open-invite activities such as the robotics challenge, debating and informatics training
  • Competition teams based on invitation, such as creative problem-solving, da Vinci Decathlon and World Scholar’s Cup
  • National and International tours for students with particular areas of aptitude or interest
  • Olympiads in subjects such as Mathematics and Informatics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography
  • Maths extension classes after school; digital thinking/coding camps with local girls’ schools
  • Additional intervention for students whose level of ability and interests indicate that they will benefit from this
  • Appropriate university units, generally from Year 10 onwards.

Appendix A: A differentiated model of giftedness and talent (Gagné, 2009)

Other relevant policies:

  • Curriculum Policy
  • Rewarding Academic Achievement & Endeavour

 

References

Gagné, F. (2009). Building gifts into talents: brief overview of the DGMT 2.0. In Gifted. (152) 5-9.