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Gifted Education

St Pius X is a Gifted Education Lead School in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Our focus is on identifying gifted learners and assisting with the process of developing talent by providing specific opportunities for learning, training and practise. We have high expectations for all students with an increased focus on gifted learners and their needs.

The school’s Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) and a gifted education committee assist teachers with collating and analysing data, identifying the strengths and needs of students and providing appropriate strategies to meet their needs.

Gifted Education is a priority in the system and is providing exciting opportunities for students in our school and we look forward to working with all the schools in the diocese during this exciting era of learning.

Introducing the Virtual Academy

What is the Virtual Academy?

The Virtual Academy is an online school program for highly to profoundly gifted students, offered for the first time in Semester Two 2018, organised and run by the Catholic Schools Office. The academy will support students in Stages 3 and 4 (scholastic year groups 5, 6 and 7 at this stage) who will be working on extended or advanced curriculum outcomes. It will provide curriculum differentiation, extension and enrichment options for identified students. The academy includes online, team and individual work, face-to-face and project-based learning with online mentoring support.

As a Gifted Education Lead School, we have worked in consultation with the Catholic Schools Office to identify and support all of our students learning needs. This program offers students opportunities that cannot be offered in the classroom by the Australian Curriculum. The Virtual Academy had strict guidelines and a rigorous nomination program and St Pius is proud to have seven of our students accepted.

How does the Virtual Academy meet student needs?

The highly to profoundly gifted student needs:

  1. A differentiated curriculum, time frames and materials
  2. Explicit, direct and individualised intervention
  3. Access to like-minded peers, external programs and specialist mentoring
  4. Support from a range of teams, structures and individuals

The nomination for the Virtual Academy is made by the school. This nomination was completed by the Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) with support and assistance of the Principal and the class teachers. The GEMs complete a nomination spreadsheet for identified highly to profoundly gifted students and have triangulated supporting data, e.g. CogAT, PAT Maths and Reading, school grades, and other checklists. It is expected that academy students in most instances will have at least two age stanine 9 scores on the Cognitive Ability Test.

Not all students nominated will be invited into the initial Virtual Academy group. The initial group will be limited to about 30 students while the resources and procedures are developed. Students and their parents will decide whether they wish to accept an invitation to the Virtual Academy. More students will be offered this learning resource next year and in the years to come.

Support for Gifted students who are not offered the Academy

We have identified gifted students in the Gifted Education Lead Schools using the identification procedures previously outlined. Class teachers are aware of these students and are catering for their needs through a variety of differentiation processes in the classroom.

The Virtual Academy is being developed to support our students and their teachers into the future.