Teaching gifted children is a rewarding but often challenging experience. Just like any other student, gifted children have a right to an education which stimulates and stretches them. But without adequate learning experiences, they can easily become bored and disengaged; often underachieving in spite of their immense capabilities.
With this in mind, Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) devised their Selective Gifted Education Program, an initiative for ensuring educational equality among gifted learners in their Primary and Secondary Newman schools.
Head of Diverse Learning at SCS, Karen Cahill, is due to speak at the Special Educational Needs Summit – 22-23 May in Sydney – and spoke to us about how the initiative aims to fulfill the organisation’s vision.
“The schools aim to provide high quality professional learning for staff and a rigorous program for gifted learners, within a nurturing environment”, says Karen.
“Teachers within Newman schools provide extensive opportunities that support the social and emotional well-being of students and cater for a wide variety of gifted learners.”
“Our first goal is to identify these students, through a multiple identification process, and secondly to celebrate who they are.”
“Being ‘gifted’ can be an exhilarating although at times, isolating experience for children. We hope the educational environment we offer to these students helps them to relish their unique strengths and grow their self-confidence.”
Karen believes the program is successful due to the dedication of teachers and principals to the program, as well as the rich professional learning that occurs throughout the year via academics, specialists, psychologists and consultants, who contribute to its development and delivery in the field of gifted education.
“It is such a niche area,” Karen says. “The idea is to create a shared language and terminology, which ensures everyone is on the same page. Using staff who are specialized in this area is vital for us to achieve this vision for gifted education.”
SCS is currently completing a pilot expansion program and will be sharing insights into their growth strategy at the Special Educational Needs Summit – due to take place 22-23 May in Sydney.