Enrichment and Extension
At The King’s School, we believe that high potential learners, including gifted students, are entitled to rigorous, relevant and engaging learning opportunities that acknowledge their learning needs, strengths, interests and goals. The enrichment and extension opportunities offered endeavour to ensure the needs of all students are met. Our Extension Program is designed to identify, support and extend learners of a high potential within a challenging, creative and nurturing environment.
This is one aspect of a much broader educational experience offered to your son by The King’s School. Our academic focus is to provide our young men with the opportunity to develop the necessary competencies, such as critical and creative thinking, problem solving and collaboration, along with dispositions like curiosity, perseverance and empathy. These capabilities are essential to assist our students to be global citizens who make an outstanding impact in their community beyond The King’s School.
The King’s School recognises that all students deserve to have their academic needs met. The School aims to provide quality whole school enrichment for students of all ability levels through varied and rigorous classroom and co-curricular experiences.
We also recognise that high potential learners, including gifted students, have specific learning needs and through the Extension Program we cater for these students. The Program is designed to ensure the particular intellectual, social and emotional needs of our high potential learners are identified and supported throughout their time at The King’s School.
Definitions of gifts and talents
Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent 2.0 (2008) underpins our understanding of these definitions. This model differentiates between natural abilities (gifts or aptitudes) and systematically developed skills (talents) recognising that giftedness is a broad concept that encompasses a range of abilities. “Gifts” are abilities in a variety of domains, such as intellectual, creative, social and physical that place students within the top ten percent of peers of the same age, culture and/or circumstances. “Talent” emerges from giftedness. It should be nurtured and its development is based on personality, environmental aspects and opportunity among other factors. Like Gagné, we believe support is necessary if students are to develop their high abilities into high achievements.
Identifying giftedness and talent
One aim of our Extension Program is to assist in the identification of students with academic gifts and to develop their talents through appropriate educational opportunities.
Identification tools that may be used by the School to identify giftedness and talents include EduTest tests of scholastic aptitude, NAPLAN tests, Independent psychologists’ reports, External tests and competitions, Teacher identification checklists, Pre-testing on new topics, Work samples and Parent, peer and self-nomination.
Twice exceptional learners
We recognise the need to acknowledge individual differences. For twice exceptional learners, the Extension Program, along with the Educational Support Services Department, caters for high potential learners who may have identified physical, emotional or learning issues to minimise any impairments their learning.
Options within the classroom
The King’s School is committed to providing teaching staff with professional learning to meet the needs of our high potential learners. We aim to foster the links between the Gifted Education, Research, Resource and Information Centre (GERRIC) and the Gifted and Talented Secondary Teachers’ Association (GATSTA) forming staff professional learning partnerships to ensure active and ongoing training and engagement for staff.
Scholar Classes are structured in Years 7 to 10 to cater for the most able boys. Placement is performance-based and classes can undertake a variety of curriculum modifications to address their specific learning needs such as a differentiated curriculum, rigorous extension tasks, curriculum compacting and individualised programs.
Withdrawal of students can also be used to provide for boys with capabilities beyond the regular class grouping. In-class enrichment is staffed by subject specialists with relevant programs developed to meet the individual needs of students. Sometimes high potential learners need to be accelerated into higher grades in order to work at a level commensurate with their ability. These cases are assessed individually and a decision arrived at after considering all aspects of a student’s well-being.
Options beyond the classroom
A wide variety of co-curricular activities adds to the richness of opportunity for talented boys at The King’s School.
This is vital for enrichment, but also plays a key role in building a group identity in which students are supported by capable and hard-working peers who share their aspirations. Intellectual societies and extension groups exist in each year group from Year 7-12.
Inter-school and national academic and thinking competitions are offered, such as the da Vinci Decathlon, Philsothon and UNSW competitions.
University courses are also encouraged, such as Sydney University’s Mind and Morality and Macquarie University’s Critical Thinking.
Academic attainment is celebrated with the award of Colours/Half Colours.
High potential learners can often be asynchronous in their development. This can mean aspects of their physical, intellectual and emotional growth are out of step with each other. This can be frustrating for the student, as well as for their parents and teachers. The pastoral care structure in the School of Tutors, Year Coordinators and Housemasters, along with School Psychologists and Counsellors, are used to monitor each boy in the Extension Program and help him to recognise and use the positive elements of his own gifts.