Collaborate with families, school communities and the wider community to enhance growth and achievement for all high potential and gifted students.
Building collaborative practice
Schools should collaborate with other schools in offering programs and learning opportunities for high potential and gifted students. This is especially important for schools with smaller enrolment numbers, with geographic isolation, or those who serve socio-economically disadvantaged communities. Collaboration can help to create a critical mass of students to offer programs and opportunities that students might otherwise miss.
School collaboration can be within or between:
- established communities of schools
- school principal networks
- schools with common structures, such as central schools or selective high schools
- schools with common programs, such as schools that offer similar extra-curricular activities, subjects, or programs
- broader groupings of schools based on sharing and developing expertise, such as a rural and a metropolitan school or comprehensive schools collaborating with specialist settings.
Examples of school collaboration:
- Acceleration pathways: collaboration between primary and secondary schools can help advanced primary students access Stage 4 and 5 curriculum provisions.
- Virtual classroom or video conferencing technology: these technologies can facilitate extension and enrichment learning programs, as well as subject or curriculum offerings. Sharing workshops, guest speakers, and extension learning opportunities via virtual classrooms can assist.
- Sharing extra-curricular programs: for example, three neighbouring schools might share extra-curricular performing arts programs such as band, dance and drama groups. Depending on circumstances, students attend different school sites to participate in the extra-curricular activity with greater and more viable student numbers.
- Offering elective curriculum subjects: schools should collaborate to offer curriculum delivery across sites where small numbers of students make it difficult for a school to offer an advanced curriculum option such as HSC Extension classes, specialist subjects or higher levels of English, maths and science.
- Transition programs: while many school communities run active transition programs from early childhood to primary, and primary to secondary education, specific programs for high potential and gifted students can be quality examples of cross-school collaboration.
- Joint school high potential and gifted education networks and teams: regular working groups consisting of teams of teachers can help to support this cross-school collaboration.
A range of collaborative approaches can be implemented to build collective efficacy and enable staff to share their expertise within and beyond their school.
Models supporting this can include:
- existing school teams including the Learning Support Team and/or Wellbeing Team
- representatives on school teams with gifted education experience and responsibility
- a high potential and gifted education (HPGE) policy implementation team
- collaborative teams centred on specific programs for high potential and gifted students
- a member of the school’s executive with responsibility for program implementation working with interested staff.
A range of collaborative approaches can be implemented to build collective efficacy and enable staff to share their expertise within and beyond their school. Examples of quality collaborative practice include:
- mentoring or coaching teams working together to target similar challenges or needs
- small stage teams focusing on a specific target or need that has been informed by feedback, school reflection and analysis
- groups of teachers who share a common goal of improving teaching practice by developing whole-school professional learning for staff
- a leadership team evaluating school procedures, programs and practices to ensure they are inclusive of the needs of high potential and gifted students
- collegial teams who identify, initiate and create opportunities for engaging parents/carers in the school’s educational priorities
- teachers designing, implementing, evaluating and sharing action learning projects
- learning alliances or networks established between schools to build capacity in current research
- digital or virtual learning communities which enable feedback and professional dialogue
- creating enrichment opportunities for students through networks or community of schools which target intellectual, physical, creative or social-emotional domains
- staff co-designing enrichment or extension opportunities to be offered by the department or by other organisations
- teams collaborating together at key transition points.
Collaboration with family, carers and community members
Principals and teachers need to collaborate with family, carers and community members to implement this policy and support the learning needs of high potential and gifted students. There are some specific areas that schools, principals, and teachers should consider when collaborating with parents or carers:
- Parental knowledge or understanding: engaging parents or carers to develop positive expectations and understanding of assessment, identification and support for high potential and gifted students, including how the School Plan addresses student needs.
- Concerns with elitism or parent/carer advocacy: some parents or carers may be reluctant to come forward if they fear being seen as elitist for advocating advanced learning opportunities.
- Families or carers from disadvantaged backgrounds: some family members or carers may be less aware of the opportunities and pathways available for high potential and gifted students.
- Early identification and communication: families or carers can be better placed to make informed decisions about future educational opportunities or options with early or proactive communication initiated by the school.
- Fees and costs associated with advanced learning opportunities: as with other equity programs, parents or carers and families may have concerns about costs that can be associated with advanced learning opportunities, especially extra-curricular ones.
School counsellors/psychologists are able to support schools to engage positively with parents or carers of high potential and gifted students, especially where specific barriers or needs are identified. Ongoing communication and clarification with families can assist the school to develop positive engagement. A range of family-oriented resources are produced by family and community support groups for high potential and gifted students.
Collaboration with community organisations and external providers
Community organisations and institutions are another avenue by which schools can collaborate to provide opportunities for advanced learning.
Examples of opportunities for collaboration include:
- tertiary institutions such as universities, colleges, and TAFE
- advanced research institutions or organisations in fields such as science, technology, and engineering
- libraries and information services run by local and state government or universities
- online opportunities for learning such as online courses or virtual classroom technology
- talent development programs run by sporting clubs or performing arts organisations
- voluntary associations or groups focusing on parent support or teacher professional learning in the context of high potential and gifted students
- government organisations and departments.