The spirit of Ignatius is built on the belief that each person is created in the image of God. This calls us to respect the dignity and value of every individual. St Vincent’s College strives to create a caring community of students, parents and teachers with varied gifts and backgrounds. This is reflected in the ongoing commitment to assist each student to attain her full potential, including the commitment to support students with learning support needs and our gifted and talented learners.

At St Vincent’s College Diverse Learning is divided into two sections: Learning Support and Gifted Education. The Learning Support Team assists classroom teachers in meeting the needs of all students and works with these students in and outside the classroom environment. Gifted and Talented learners are recognised as students who have distinct learning requirements and the College endeavours to maximise their learning opportunities so these students are able to realise their potential.

The Diverse Learning program is offered at St Vincent’s College as a whole school approach and is guided by the: Sisters of Charity Values; Mary Aikenhead Educational Philosophy; Ignatian pedagogy; Board of Studies guidelines for Special Education; NSW Department of Education and Training Special Education Students Policy and NSW Department of Education and Training Gifted and Talented Students Policy.

Identification of Student Needs

St Vincent's will assess your daughter's learning needs by obtaining information from a variety of sources. For incoming Year 7 students, aptitude testing will take place in a group situation toward the end of Year 6 during the Year 7 Orientation Program. For all other new students, aptitude testing will take place at the College at a negotiated time after your daughter's enrolment has been accepted. Along with aptitude testing results, the following are used to help us to build a learner profile for your daughter: anecdotal evidence such as milestone achievement, formalised testing (perhaps by an educational psychologist), school based assessment, statewide testing (NAPLAN), screening tests, parent referral/nomination and interviews.

RESPONSE TO LEARNING NEEDS

The diversity of the student learning needs are met in many ways including intensive reading/maths groups, extension/co-curricula activities, a differentiated curriculum, in-class assistance, Disability Provisions for examinations, mentoring, counselling, emotional support, career assistance, profile meetings (parents, staff, external professionals), appropriate class placement, ongoing professional development of staff and referrals and links to outside organisations for assistance and enrichment.

Gifted and Talented Education

UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF GIFTEDNESS

At St Vincent’s College, our understanding of the nature of giftedness is based on Françoys Gagné's Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent. The model recognises that people can possess a diverse range of gifts and that students require a supportive, nurturing environment to ensure that this potential can be realised through exceptional achievement. At St Vincent's College, the nurturing of these gifts in young women is seen as central to the purpose of education and the development of well-rounded individuals. To facilitate this process St Vincent’s College employs a Gifted Education Coordinator who holds post graduate qualifications in Gifted Education.

As a part of the Diverse Learning Team, the Gifted Education Coordinator focuses on identifying and working with students who have gifted potential across intellectual, creative, perceptual and/or social domains or who display exceptional talent across a broad array of fields of endeavour. The coordinator works with staff and external consultants to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the nature and needs of gifted individuals and to encourage practical application of this knowledge across the curriculum and in the classroom.

MEETING THE NEEDS OF GIFTED STUDENTS

The learning needs of gifted students are quantitatively and qualitatively different from those of other students and thus require the implementation and maintenance of clustered groupings of students who participate in specialised teaching programs and pedagogies particularly suited to their specific academic and affective needs.

In addition to these understanding St Vincent’s College also recognises the importance of integrating gifted education strategies into all Key Learning Areas (KLAs) to ensure that the core curriculum is relevant and significant for gifted learners and will support them in developing their gifts on a daily basis, within the context of the classroom. The college strives to develop and implement differentiated programs which are appropriately paced and sufficiently challenging to encourage each student to take the opportunity to develop to their full potential based on their abilities, interests and learning style.

The encouragement of inquiry-based learning and critical thinking is integral across the College curriculum and although this pedagogy is well suited to the gifted learner, other more specialised interventions are also offered. In subjects where it is appropriate, classes may be streamed, compacting and enrichment may be provided or, for students who meet strict criteria, acceleration may be offered but only in consultation with staff, parents and students.

ENRICHMENT CHALLENGES, LINKS WITH EXTERNAL COURSES AND MENTORING

A chance for gifted girls to pursue passions and interests is offered through enrichment challenges, links with external courses and mentoring. St Vincent's College believes that gifted students have considerable capacity to take on extra-curricula activities and recommends participation in the myriad of enrichment opportunities the college offers.

Gifted and Talented Conference days offer students the opportunity to explore conceptual thinking and engage with international speakers who specialise in programs for gifted students.

With links to the Gifted and Talented Secondary Teachers Association (GATSTA), St Vincent’s College students host and participate in a wide variety of activity days in such as Philosophical Discussion Days, Confronting Concepts Days (based on the Festival of Dangerous Ideas) and Creative Collaboration Days. All of these activities are an opportunity for selected students to engage with their academic peers, in their areas of interest, in a challenging and vibrant environment, supervised by teachers with specialised gifted education credentials.

Links with local universities offer opportunities for senior students to participate in tertiary learning experiences whilst they continue with their secondary studies. HSC preliminary courses are offered through the University of Sydney and Macquarie University. Any opportunity to study at a tertiary level provides valuable experience in high level research skills, essay writing and critical thinking. Students who have completed acceleration are also offered opportunities at the University of New South Wales.

Students are offered many other opportunities to be involved in an array of competitions, challenges and enrichment days within and outside the college in areas such as Public Speaking, Debating, Chess playing, Poetry Writing, Creative Writing, Digital Storytelling, Science, Maths, HSIE, LOTE, Drama, Music, Dance, Sport, Outdoor Education as well as opportunities to use their gifts to help others in the areas of Social Justice and Mission Immersions.

Learning Support

At St Vincent’s there will be students who may experience difficulties with learning which may arise at any time throughout a student’s school life. Prime responsibility for meeting the specific learning needs of students with difficulties lies with the classroom teacher. The Learning Support team plays a key role in ensuring that the specific learning needs of students experiencing difficulties in learning are met.

Curriculum Differentiation

A differentiated curriculum caters for a wide range of learning styles, readiness and ability levels within a mainstream class. When student with learning support needs enter the College, the Learning Support team meets with parents, students, teachers and their Head of House to determine the most apporpirate modified or adjusted program for study. Differentiation in curriculum delivery and assessment is then provided by the classroom teacher in consultation with the Head of Department and the Learning Support Team.

Curriculum adjustments include:

  • Reduced amount of content covered
  • Explicit teaching/modeling
  • Simplified/explicit instructions
  • Adjustments to size
  • Alternate formats
  • Colour coding

Some students may require adjustment to assessments.

Assessment adjustments include:

  • Adjustments to the assessment process such as additional time, rest breaks, quieter conditions, or the use of a reader and/or scribe or specific technology
  • Adjustments to assessment tasks such as rephrasing questions, using simplified language, fewer questions or alternative formats for questions
  • Alternative formats for responses, eg. written point form instead of essays, scaffolded structured responses, short objective questions, multimedia presentations.

Life Skills Program

A small percentage of students, particularly those with an intellectual disability, may not be able to meet the stage requirements for Board Developed Syllabuses and/or Board Endorsed Courses. For these students the Life Skills outcomes and content in each syllabus may provide a more relevant, accessible and meaningful curriculum option. The decision to participate in the Life Skills option is through an extensive consultative process.

Students may study Life Skills outcomes and content in every subject or a combination of Life Skills outcomes and content in some subjects, and regular outcomes and content in other subjects. However, it is not possible for students to undertake a combination of regular and Life Skills outcomes in the same subject.

Disability Provisions

Disability Provisions are provided for students in Year 9-12 in all formal Assessment blocks and ensure that students who were eligible for these provisions perform at their best. The College models Disability Provisions for students in Year 9-12 based on the Board of Studies (BOS) guidelines to allow students the greatest opportunities to excel in class assessments and external examinations.

Applications for HSC Disability Provisions for the external HSC examinations open in the November prior to the student sitting the external exam. All students will be notified through letter to parents of the application process in term 1 of the year they are applying for Disability Provisions. Applications are made through the Learning Support Teacher.

If the application for Disability Provisions to the BOS is unsuccessful, students can appeal to the BOS through formal BOS appeal structures. Should an appeal be made to the BOS, Disability Provisions will continue to be provided at the College until such time as the appeal is decided and communicated. On the advice of the BOS, some or all of the provisions may be removed in the formal examination blocks and the HSC.

Contact the Diverse Learning Department: