School’s in for new gifted-student pilot program

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School’s in for new gifted-student pilot program
One Day School program co-ordinator Allison Cornish, centre, with students from Larmenier Catholic Primary School.

A pilot program for gifted students at northern Catholic schools has won praise from teachers, parents and children.

The program, called the One Day School, aims to help gifted students reach their potential, and to challenge and extend their learning.

Some 66 students from grades 2 to 6 from Sacred Heart Catholic School, Launceston; St Thomas More’s Catholic School, Newstead; St Anthony’s Catholic School, Riverside; Larmenier Catholic School, St Leonards; St Finn Barr’s Catholic School, Invermay; and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School, Deloraine, have excitedly started the One Day School, which takes place each Friday at Larmenier Catholic School over terms three and four.

Larmenier Catholic School deputy principal Allison Cornish is the program co-ordinator. She has been a volunteer with the Tasmanian Association for the Gifted for 10 years, three of them as president, and is a passionate advocate for gifted education.

“Every child should have a chance to learn, and to excel in their learning,” Ms Cornish said.

“We do a lot of hard work in supporting children who are below average in their learning or who have special learning needs, and what we have discovered about gifted students is that they are as far away from the norm or the average, towards the top end, as a child on the other end of the scale. So their learning needs are very different from average students and therefore they need special interventions in order to succeed.”

The program tackles issues facing gifted students, who sometimes become bored, frustrated and disengaged with learning. Students are learning the importance of hard work and a growth mindset, facing complex challenges and meeting like-minded peers.

Three teachers with gifted education skills, as well as Ms Cornish, work with students at the One Day School. The learning programs are being shared with classroom teachers to upskill educators across the board.

Ms Cornish rejected suggestions that gifted learning programs are elitist.

“These are children with high potential – potentially people who may come up with a cure for cancer or may solve our environmental problems, so if we hold them back … and not give them the chance to extend their learning and to learn at the rapid pace that they are used to, we are costing ourselves in the future,” Ms Cornish said.

Ms Cornish added that the One Day School had been warmly received by students, parents and teachers, and was a credit to the vision of the Catholic Education Office and the courage of the principals involved.