The hallmark of excellence in Gifted Education insists on inclusivity and equitable identification, along with vibrant, culturally diverse programming practices and culturally responsive classrooms. Catholic schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, aim to yield desirable achievement outcomes for all students by embedding approaches that can help integrate the needs of our diverse learners, including those with high potential.
Our purpose is to develop high potential and gifted education programs in schools, implement initiatives and recommendations, facilitate professional learning, and build capacity through a system-wide approach. Our schools provide high-quality professional learning for staff and authentically rigorous programs for all learners within a nurturing Catholic environment, focused on the individual students’ needs, interests and abilities.
Based on the identification of student needs, rigorous differentiated learning is delivered in the classroom to provide appropriate challenges through greater depth, breadth, and complexity. With the triangulation of information sourced from multiple objective and subjective measures, such as parent and teacher nomination, the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), standardised testing and other data collated by teachers; students are identified and assessed across a range of gifted domains and their progress is comprehensively evaluated.
The Virtual Academy is a unique innovation of the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Schools Office that aims to meet the needs of highly and profoundly gifted students in Years 5– 8. The Virtual Academy is a supportive pathway that operates online, with students being supported by dedicated staff trained in the field of high potential and gifted education and with regular video conferences. The Virtual Academy offers students the opportunity to be challenged through inquiry and to develop skills across disciplines to solve real-world problems.
The Virtual Academy positions students along a positive trajectory and sees them achieve success academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. Students are challenged by a conceptual-based framework that focuses on the building of skills. The Virtual Academy implements NSW Education and Standards Authority (NESA) General capabilities encompassing the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours:
- Critical and creative thinking
- Ethical understanding
- Information and communication technology capability
- Intercultural understanding
- Personal and social capability