An exciting program to maximise the potential of gifted students in Sydney Catholic schools is hitting its mark – and is about to get even bigger!
After four years of intensive research and evaluation, the first schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney have been formally accredited as ‘Newman’ schools. The Newman program is a key element of the Archdiocesan Gifted Education Policy. It provides opportunities for academically gifted and talented students. Based on significant research, the program supports gifted learners across different subjects and skill areas. It was developed by the Catholic Education Office Sydney in consultation with local and international academics and practitioners with particular expertise in gifted and talented education.
Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook, Marcellin College Randwick and Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary School, Caringbah are the first three schools to complete the accreditation for this program. By the end of 2015, 15 more schools will be successfully accredited. And the process rolls forward, with invitations extended each year for more schools to become Newman accredited.
For some time, schools have had to consider the needs of gifted students by providing opportunities to identify and extend those who are gifted, but whose capabilities+ might not always be obvious. The 2013 Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) review of Australian Curriculum highlighted the need for schools to offer gifted and talented students flexible and individually appropriate learning pathways. The Newman program has risen to the challenge, offering comprehensive extended content in many areas. This includes specialist programs such as master classes in Music and Dance, programs in Science and Technology, and Visual Arts.
“The process of accreditation makes use of a set of explicit, research-based standards,” said Karen Cahill, the CEO’s Head of Diverse Learning. “It involves building up school expertise, setting in place a range of identification and provision processes, the submission of documents and a school visit by a validation panel made up of both CEO personnel and external experts.”
Four distinguished educators take part in the accreditation panels including Dr Catherine Wormald of the University of Wollongong, Dr Jae Yup Jared Jung from the University of New South Wales’ Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre (GERRIC), Helen Dudeney, Principal Consultant from the Australian Gifted Support Centre and Barbara Stone AM, ex-Principal of MLC Burwood.
Newman accreditation means schools can call themselves a ‘Newman Gifted Program School for three years. They can use the Newman Gifted logo on their school communications and have access to supplementary funding. “The Newman Program and the launch of the Archdiocesan Gifted Education Policy are an exciting and innovative expression of the Archdiocese’s response to provision for gifted students,” said Mrs Cahill.
The Newman program:
- offers gifted and talented students the opportunity to extend and enrich their learning
- has three schools accredited and 15 more will be accredited by the end of 2015
- continues the archdiocese’ response to provide for students of all levels of ability
- is named after Cardinal John Henry Newman who was a significant church scholar
- is a program of the Archdiocese of Sydney