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Gifted Education is a focus for schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. The purpose of our gifted education program is to provide meaningful opportunities for all students to excel in their learning. Staff work collaboratively to identify giftedness in students and to provide appropriate educational programs and interventions to enable the development of their talent to achieve individual potential.

In 2016, the Catholic Schools Office identified a need to review and enhance its policies in relation to the field of gifted education to ensure the needs of gifted students were being met. The system’s gifted education policies and procedures have been designed to fulfil this requirement.

The policy is mandated for all schools in the system and provides clear guidelines for responsibility at system- and school-level which facilitates a consistent approach across the Diocese and a smooth transition through the grades K-12.

The system leadership is responsible for providing support and guidance in the development and implementation of gifted education initiatives, professional learning opportunities, and resources. The principals and school executives are responsible for implementing a continuous process of identification of gifted students in consultation with relevant system personnel. The policy includes an identification overview to be followed by all schools.

The key components of the Gifted Education K-12 policy and strategy are:

  • Leadership commitment
  • Identification and use of data
  • Capacity building of staff
  • Targeted strategies for gifted pedagogy
  • School-wide and cluster approach to gifted education.

In 2017 nominated secondary and associated primary schools formed clusters of Gifted Education Lead Schools (GELS). These schools are implementing identification processes and appropriate educational interventions. Each of the GELS has a Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) appointed to support teachers and the school gifted education committee in providing appropriate strategies to assist students.

By the end of 2022, all schools in the system will be working in clusters with a strong K-12 system approach supporting students as they enter and transition through the grades and schools.

Since initiating the program in 2017, our students have benefitted from the work that our Gifted Education Lead Schools have been engaged in. This has included collaborative professional learning for staff, identification of gifted learners, analysis of data to deepen our understanding of our students and how they learn, and collaborative programming for gifted students. Individual schools evaluate an aspect of their work each year by completing a range of thoughtful and meaningful action research projects.

Virtual Academy

The Virtual Academy is an exciting and unique innovation from the Catholic Schools Office which aims to meet the needs of highly and profoundly gifted students in years 5 - 8. The Virtual Academy is run online, with students being supported by regular video conferences with specialist gifted education teachers based in the Catholic Schools Office.

Students are challenged by a curriculum based on a conceptual framework that focuses on building critical and creative thinking skills. The Virtual Academy offers students the opportunity to work above their grade level and challenges them to think across disciplines to solve real-world problems.

The Virtual Academy provides students with access to a supportive social, pastoral and educational environment to realise their holistic wellbeing resulting in improved:

  • Self-esteem
  • Engagement
  • Academic outcomes
  • Intrapersonal skills
  • Self-regulation
  • Connections with other like-minded peers

Our Virtual Academy students thrive on the enrichment they gain from engaging with this unique online learning experience.

Each year the students in the Virtual Academy present their research to a panel of education, industry, and community experts.

The Gifted Education Lead Schools are organised into seven clusters across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.


High school: 
St Pius X, Adamstown 

Primary schools:
Holy Family, Merewether Beach
St Joseph’s, Merewether
St James’, Kotara South 
St John’s, Lambton
St Therese’s, New Lambton
St Columba’s, Adamstown


High school: 
St Clare’s, Taree

Primary schools:
Holy Name, Forster
St Joseph’s, Wingham


High school: 
San Clemente, Mayfield

Primary schools:
St Columban’s, Mayfield
Corpus Christi, Waratah
St Michael’s, Nelson Bay
St Peter's, Stockton


High school: 
All Saints' College, St Peter's Campus, Maitland

Primary schools:
St John the Baptist, Maitland
St Joseph’s, East Maitland 
Holy Spirit Infants, Abermain
Holy Spirit, Kurri Kurri


High school: 
St Joseph’s, Lochinvar

Primary schools:
St Patrick’s, Lochinvar
Rosary Park, Branxton


High school: 
St Bede’s, Chisholm

Primary schools:
St Aloysius, Chisholm
Our Lady of Lourdes, Tarro


High school: 
St Paul’s, Booragul

Primary schools:
St Mary’s, Warners Bay
St Joseph’s, Kilaben Bay
St John Vianney, Morisset
St Kevin’s, Cardiff
Holy Cross, Glendale                                                                                                                                                              St Joseph’s Charlestown                                                                                                                                                          St Paul’s Gateshead

St Francis Xavier Windale

St Joseph’s Belmont

St Patrick’s Swansea


K-12 school:
St Catherine's Singleton

High school:
St Joseph's, Aberdeen

Primary school:
St James', Muswellbrook
St Joseph's, Denman


In 2022 the following schools will become Gifted Education Lead Schools.

As all schools will become GELS in 2022, new GEMS will be appointed in either Semester 1 or Semester 2:

Semester 1 Semester 2

Primary Schools

St Patrick’s, Cessnock

St Joseph’s, Merriwa

Our Lady of Victories, Shortland

High Schools

St Francis Xavier’s, Hamilton

Catherine McAuley, Medowie

Primary Schools

St Joseph’s, Bulahdelah

St Joseph’s, Dungog

St Benedict’s, Edgeworth

St Brigid’s, Raymond Terrace

St Paul’s, Rutherford

St Joseph’s, Taree