Early Adopter Schools 1: first steps - film

Covered in this illustration of practice:

The Early Adopter Schools’ project was launched in December, 2019. The project follows the early adoption journey of a representative group of schools. These diverse schools underwent a rigorous selection process, completed in-depth professional learning and received tailored support. Their journeys will serve as an illustration of practice for other schools to consider as they start their own unique implementation journey from 2021.

Dungog Community of Schools, Leeton High School, Lindfield Public School and Penrith Selective High School, were selected to represent the diversity of NSW public schools. Together they commenced implementation of the High Potential and Gifted Policy ahead of time.

In this film, school leaders introduce their contexts and outline their key actions to support implementation of the policy.

Watch 'Early Adopter Schools - first steps'

Transcript of Early Adopter Schools video (9 minutes 40 seconds)

Start of transcript


Early Adopter Schools High Potential and Gifted Education

Female voiceover – For a group of schools around New South Wales, today is the start of a journey, a journey that begins with passion, motivation and maybe a few misconceptions and a journey that wil end with a full familiarisation of the Department of Education’s High Potential and Gifted Education Policy…

Female voiceover – …before the mandatory date, which is Term 1, 2021. These school leadership teams have travelled from around the state to come together to share the context of their schools and to build on their desire to become one of the policy’s early adopter schools. The early adopter schools also reflect the diversity of NSW public schools with a mix of primary, secondary, regional, rural and urban schools.

Female voiceover – A specialist setting is also represented. Leeton High School, Dungog Community of Schools representing eight educational settings, Lindfield Public and Penrith Selective High School went through a rigorous selection process to take on the challenge of familiarising their staff and communities with the guiding principles of the policy. This will culminate in the policy becoming an integral part of their individual school plans.

Female voiceover – Leeton High School, a rural high school in the Riverina, educates 470 students, with 14% of the student population identifying as Aboriginal.

Leeton High School have a strong desire to extend the breadth, depth and challenges of learning for those students with high potential.

[on screen text] Dungog Community of Schools…

Female voiceover – … are a group of seven regional school and one high school who work closely together on key curriculum initiatives.

They applied to become early adopter schools so they could overcome the challenges of applying the policy to small schools in their network and to improve their transition processes.

Penrith Selective High School

Female voiceover – Penrith High is a fully academic, selective high school with 921 students, in the western suburbs of Sydney. This school was already on the journey of meeting the needs of high potential and gifted students at the time of application and are…

[on screen text and voiceover continuing] …deeply committed to ensuring that the new high potential and gifted policy is embedded into their practice targeting high expectations so students can aspire to reach their educational potential.

[on screen text] Lindfield Public School

Female voiceover – Lindfield Public School has an enrolment of 830 students with 53% from a non-English speaking background.

[on screen text and voiceover continuing] The staff are keen to be able to identify and cater for any high potential students in all domains who may have been overlooked in the past, due to EAL/D, underachievement and/or learning difficulties.

Female voiceover – The new policy promotes engagement and challenge for every student, regardless of background. In every school across intellectual, creative, social emotional and physical domains. It supports very student to achieve their educational potential through talent development opportunities, as well as differentiated teaching and learning practices, to ensure that their specific learning and wellbeing needs are met.


[on screen text] Linden O’Brien, Head Teacher – Dungog High School

Linden – I think it is about empowering our staff as well, just to help identify the students and their talents and then work out how are we going to foster those and nurture them across all our contexts, whether it’s primary or high school.

[on screen text] Mark Long, Principal – Penrith Selective High School

Mark – As a leader, then how do we set an environment, how do we create an environment where students can find other like-minded students, find opportunities within the curriculum, find opportunities through enrichment and co-curricular? And how do we do that as a school to meet the needs of all students? And that’s quite challenging to do, but certainly achievable.

[on screen text] Glenn Duggan, Deputy Principal – Leeton High School

Glenn – In terms of offering learning opportunities to cater to those different backgrounds, first we need to know our students really well and where they are at. Without understanding the students, we can’t cater for and provide those learning opportunities. So through this program, we feel that will assist us to brainstorm what we can offer based on the evidence.

[on screen text] Libby Hamilton, Teacher – Lindfield Public School

Libby – Identifying the students who are high performing has been relatively easy. However, those students who have got high potential, I think maybe we don’t see them so easily. And what I think our aim is to be able to identify all the students who have got high potential.

[on screen text] Cyrus Katrak, Assistant Principal – Lindfield Public School

Cyrus – On a classroom level I guess also I’m hoping to get something out of this that’s very practical, tools that teachers can use on a day to day basis to differentiate.

Female voiceover – In planning the implementation of this policy a serious attempt has been made to identify the professional learning needs of educators across diverse sites and their responsibility levels within the Department of Education. Research by leaders in the professional learning field have driven the mode of delivery to our early adopter schools.

Female voiceover - The research shows the development of contextualised school wide, systematic and evidence-informed cycles of inquiry builds the relevant knowledge and skills.

[on screen text] "professional learning is not a one size fits all and should vary depending the specific context" Timperley 2008, Netolicky 2020.

Female voiceover - Helen Timperley in particular, suggests that professional learning is not one size fits all and should vary depending on the specific context. The aim of the Early Adopter Schools Initiative is to give teachers and school leaders time to trial, act, reflect and share what they have learned through their various school journeys. In fact, Helen Timperley believes that professional learning should be grounded in theory, followed by a process of trialling and practice which can then be applied to problems encountered in practice.

[on screen text] "professional learning should be grounded in theory followed by a process of trialling and practice, which can then be applied to problems encountered in practice." Timperley 2011

Female voiceover - The guiding principles and an understanding of the definitions of high potential, talent development and the domains of potential need to be unpacked. We asked our early adopter schools about their thinking in these terms at this point of their journey.

[on screen text] High potential

[on screen text] Talent development

[on screen text] Domains of potential

[on screen text] Jaclyn Cush, Deputy Principal – Penrith Selective High School

Jaclyn - Well, I guess my current understanding of high potential and gifted is that it embodies the whole student. It's not just their gifts and their talents or their potential academically, but also socially and in other domains as well.

Libby - So talent development is an interesting term, in my opinion, that you offer. I have often heard of talent development being a word that's associated with ice skaters and sports people. And until recently, have I. I've only just heard the term being used in education. So it does make you change your way of thinking about how... how you can take a potential, whatever that may be, a little spark of something, and then train this student in order for that potential to be realised into a performance that's actually measurable.

[on screen text] Sally Doig, Teacher – Leeton High School

Sally - Our school offers various support for students in the different domains. I feel like our school is quite good at supporting and extending students in the creative and physical areas. So I feel like it would be great for the school to be able to develop further in the academic area.

[Man running training session] Are there any potential partnerships? I mean, we've got a community of schools...


[image] Teachers working together around a boardroom table

[image] An online form on a computer screen

[image] Teachers presenting to a group

Female voiceover - This type of professional learning requires engaged and involved school leaders and trusting relationships, so that the whole professional community can work together to make the professional learning and associated student outcomes sustainable. Dr. Francis Whalen, an adjunct senior lecturer from the University of Sydney, calls this relational trust. To date. The early adopter schools have had face to face training and planning sessions, as well as online meetings. They have been asked to complete an attitudinal and teaching practices survey tool and to analyse their results in the leadership teams. Some schools have started professionally developing their staff, using the registered courses. They have been asked to consider at a personal level the meaning of equity in high potential and gifted education.

Female voiceover - The department will be documenting the journey of these schools and in doing so will be providing professional development resources to help all schools find the potential, develop the talent and make the difference when commencing their own journeys in 2021. Support for all schools will be available through professional learning, the web section resources, as well as through following the journeys of our early adopter schools.

[on screen text] Kylee Seabrook, Teacher – Leeton High School

Kylee- I've noticed myself as the kids have come back this year, I'm a little bit more in tune and a bit more aware of looking for the potential in the kids, especially the year 7 seven cohort and things like that. And I'm starting to see things that I didn't see before.

[on screen text] Find the potential. Develop the talent. Make the difference.

[music fades]

End of transcript

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

As you lead the High Potential and Gifted Education Policy implementation in your school, you will need to consider how to contextualise this policy, not only to your school but to each classroom as well.

Write five essential steps for action, one of which involves the 4 year Strategic Improvement Plan.

Since December 2019, the Early Adopter School leaders have been working on implementing the policy by:

  • collecting qualitative and quantitative baseline data
  • referring to quality evidence-based pedagogy
  • developing a collaborative culture

How can you collaborate across your school community to evaluate and plan for the implementation of the High Potential and Gifted Education Policy?

High Potential and Gifted Education Policy Evaluation and Planning tool

To support school leaders in the implementation of the policy, the High Potential and Gifted Education Policy Evaluation and Planning Tool is now available. This tool supports school leaders to evaluate and plan for the integration of the HPGE Policy into Strategic Improvement Plans through alignment with the School Excellence Framework.


  • Teaching and learning


  • Evaluate

Business Unit:

  • Teaching, Learning and Student Wellbeing
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