St Dympna’s is committed to ensuring all children who come to our school are supported to achieve success as learners and as people. This includes children identified as gifted and talented. The aim of our program is to cater for the cognitive, social and emotional needs of gifted and talented children at St Dympna’s. For the purpose of the St Dympna’s School Gifted and Talented Program, we use the Gagne model which proposes the following definitions:
Gagne believes that giftedness becomes talent through the quality of the child’s learning through personal contexts (motivation, confidence, perseverance) and environmental contexts (surroundings, significant persons, school provisions). Our aim is to provide educational opportunities and experiences which are particularly suited to the needs of the gifted and talented.
As in all groups in society, there are levels of giftedness and many different areas where someone could be identified as gifted or talented. It has been traditionally accepted that a small proportion (typically less than 5%) of the population falls under a general definition of Gifted and Talented. At St Dympna’s, we identify perhaps 4-5% as Gifted and Talented with another 10-15% as requiring enrichment.
Those who are identified are entitled to have their intellectual, social and emotional needs catered for and supported like all other students. To be a just and equitable school, St Dympna’s strives to offer a variety of appropriate ways of meeting the particular needs of all children. Based on this knowledge and aligning with our beliefs and values, St Dympna’s is committed to identifying, acknowledging, supporting and affirming the giftedness or talent of identified students in our care.
Gifted and Talented children are represented in all socio-economic and cultural groups and are part of the population of almost all schools. They often possess particular characteristics such as a capacity to learn at faster rates, a capacity to find, solve and act on problems more readily and a capacity to manipulate abstract ideas and make connections.
Multiple identification instruments may be used to identify the Gifted and Talented at St Dympna’s. Sayler’s Checklist is one instrument that can be used by the teacher as part of the nomination process and this will be supported by other evidence gathered through testing, parent information and other instruments. Usually, more than one indicator, instrument or nomination is required in identifying the ability of a child.
The child could be identified as gifted or exceptionally gifted depending on evidence gathered from the various instruments including IQ testing. The child, while not identified as Gifted and Talented, could also be identified as requiring Enrichment in their learning. The area of giftedness or talent identified could include intellectual ability in one or many areas, creative ability, sporting ability or one of the multiple intelligences including interpersonal skills as well as personality traits such as motivation. Others may be identified as requiring enrichment through differentiation of the curriculum or through participation in relevant extra-curricular activities.
St Dympna’s provides a challenging and enriched curriculum to all students. This curriculum is provided to ensure the particular gifts and talents of students emerge, are recognized and developed. Curriculum differentiation and class and school provisions will be available to the Gifted and Talented students and Enrichment students depending on their particular area of giftedness and their level of giftedness. Teachers will apply appropriate provisions for the identified students in their care with support from the Gifted and Talented Working Party.
Some of the strategies considered for Gifted and Talented students or Enrichment students include:
Differentiated Curriculum: Addressing the different learning styles and rates of learning of students within the classroom. Some ways of differentiating include: Content modification, process modification, product modification and learning environment.
Enrichment: Activities to broaden and develop a student’s knowledge, skills, processes and experiences.
Extension: Encourages expansion of knowledge and skills in regular curriculum.
Acceleration: Relates to an advanced pace of learning. It refers to the speed and opportunity to complete work or areas of curriculum more quickly and at a higher level. In some cases, it can relate to acceleration through the grades either for particular key learning areas or for the whole Year level. The Principal will make the final decision based on data collected and recommendations made.
Curriculum Compacting: A process to streamline the regular curriculum. By using pre-testing to determine and excuse a student from material that is already known.