Thursday, 15 February 2018


What does gifted education 
look like at St Mary's?

We passionately believe that all of our students should be provided with an education that challenges them to develop themselves to their full potential. We strive to offer an educational setting where all of our students are provided learning opportunities at a suitably challenging and engaging level. At St Mary’s, we believe that all learners have the right to receive an education that is responsive to their needs; and the provision of an appropriate educational program for the gifted is an issue of equity.

Read on to learn more about Gifted education at St Mary's.

Gifted Education at St Mary’s Primary School
‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’ John 10:10
Here at St Mary’s, as a systemic Catholic School in the Archdiocese of Sydney, we are called to:

“Nurture students’ love of learning through a Catholic pedagogy that fosters the development of the intellect, moral knowledge, understanding and reasoning in a relational, social and cultural context.”
(The Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools, Archdiocese of Sydney, Item 2, July 2011)

We passionately believe that all of our students should be provided with an education that challenges them to develop themselves to their full potential. We strive to offer an educational setting where all of our students are provided learning opportunities at a suitably challenging and engaging level. At St Mary’s, we believe that all learners have the right to receive an education that is responsive to their needs; and the provision of an appropriate educational program for the gifted is an issue of equity.

Students who are identified as being gifted require modifications to the ways that they are taught including modifying the pace, complexity, depth and breadth in their curriculum; as these students learn in a different way to their peers.

The Gifted Education Policy that is implemented at St Mary’s, as with all systemic Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney, adopts Gagne’s definitions of giftedness and talent as identified in his Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (2010, DMGT 2.0). According to Gagne’s definitions and model (2010), gifted students represent about ten percent of the student population in Sydney Catholic Schools. This calls for a differentiated response in every school to the educational needs of these students.

 

What do the terms gifted and talented mean?

Giftedness designates the possession and use of untrained and spontaneously expressed outstanding natural abilities or aptitudes (called gifts), in at least one ability domain; Intellectual, Creative, Social, Perceptive or Physical, to a degree that places an individual at least among the top 10% of age peers. 

Talent designates the outstanding mastery of systematically developed competencies (knowledge and skills) in at least one field of human activity: Academic, Technical, Science and Technology, Arts, Social Service, Sales, Administration, Business Operations, Games, Sports and Athletics, to a degree that places an individual at least among the top 10% of ‘learning peers’ (those who have accumulated a similar amount of learning time from either current or past training)
(Gagne, 2010, p. 82).

What does it mean that we are part of the Newman Selective School Gifted Education Program?
The aim of the Newman Selective Gifted Education Program is to improve provision for gifted and talented students in Archdiocesan Catholic schools by the systematic development of a whole school program in gifted education; thus providing a Kindergarten to Year 12 pathway for gifted and talented students within our system. There are currently over 38 schools that are a part of this program.
To be fully accredited as a Newman School, a school must undergo three years of professional learning and implementation of policies and programs that show how the gifted students are effectively being identified and catered for within the school. At St Mary’s, we are in our final year of this process and will apply to be accredited at the end of 2018.
In 2018 we will be focusing on:
-       Using our systematic identification procedures to identify the students in our school who are gifted. This will include identification of students across many domains - academic, sporting, creative arts.
-       Continuing to up-skill and support all staff with professional learning opportunities to ensure quality differentiation and suitably challenging learning opportunities are offered to gifted students primarily through flexible groupings within class where students will be working with like-minded peers.
-       Communicating with and informing parents about the needs of gifted students and how these needs are being met at St Mary’s.
What will this differentiation look like?
Our focus at St Mary’s is to provide differentiated learning opportunities that are embedded across the curriculum. This allows all students to mix with and learn from like minded peers and engage with appropriately challenging and engaging content. This is what best practice and research suggests has the most significant increases in students academic gain and social effects. In 2018 this will occur by flexibly grouping students across grades. This means that students will be grouped across their grade based on their learning needs and learning styles for particular subjects and tasks. In many grades this will mean students have a ‘homeroom’ teacher who is their class teacher and they may also work with a different teacher for English and / or Mathematics. Students in an extension (Newman) group will be provided opportunities to explore the content in more depth and with greater complexity in ways that will best address their learning needs. Opportunities will also, at times, be offered for withdrawal extension or enrichment activities across a range of domains.


How are students placed in the appropriate group for their learning needs?

The identification process is inclusive, dynamic and continuous. Information is gathered from a balance of objective and subjective procedures and measures to gain a complete understanding of each child and their learning needs. This information includes (but is not limited to) teacher observation, parent nomination, standardised ability testing, psychometric assessments and gifted screening tools. The information is then analysed and students are placed in the most appropriate learning environment for their needs. The groups are not fixed and can be fluid within and across years. Teacher assessment before, during and at the conclusion of units of work is also used to adjust groups as required through the year.

How can I find out more information?

We will be holding regular Parent Information sessions throughout the year and the differentiated learning of all of our students will be showcased at our annual Newman Symposium.

Our Term 1 Parent Information session will be:
- Tuesday March 6 at 7pm 
- repeat session on Thursday March 8 at 9am. 

These will be presented by Meghan Bassett, St Mary’s Newman Facilitator, and Amanda Tinson, Gifted Education Officer from Sydney Catholic Schools. 

All parents are warmly invited to attend these sessions.

For further enquiries contact:

Meghan Bassett
Newman Facilitator


meghan.bassett@syd.catholic.edu.au




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