Early Adopter Schools 4: moving forward - film

Covered in this illustration of practice:

This final illustration of practice in the Early Adopter School series features school leaders openly stating that their desired outcomes from two years ago have broadened rather than changed.

For some schools, initial plans that focused on building staff capacity transformed into action research. For others a focus on developing an understanding of the domains of high potential created an awareness that students could have high potential in more than one domain. Ensuring that all high potential students were recognised brought an awareness that identifying the needs of high potential EAL/D students needed deeper scrutiny.

Through viewing this film your staff will become familiar with the language of the HPGE policy, and as leaders you will gain a deeper understanding of the journey of implementing a learning and teaching policy across various school contexts.

Early Adopter Schools moving forward

Transcript of Early Adopter Schools: moving forward video (11 minutes 12 seconds)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this video may contain the images, voices and names of people who have passed away.


[On screen text] Early adopter schools: moving forward


Voiceover: A group of early adopters from across New South Wales have been familiarising themselves and implementing the new High Potential and Gifted Education Policy. Now, at the end of their journey, there’s time for reflection. Two years ago, the school leaders discussed what they hope to gain from their participation in the project. With increasing familiarity of the policy in the context of their own schools, their outcomes evolved, changed and widened to further build on what had already been started.

[On screen text] Desired outcomes

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

Mark Long: The specific outcomes that we were looking to achieve as a school and as a community, as a selective high school in New South Wales, was to really dive deeply into the new High Potential Gifted Education Policy, to make sure that our staff had a deep understanding of not only the policy framework, but how to operationalise that at a school, but also in the classroom.

[On screen text] building capacity

[On screen text] Meagan Creeley Principal Leeton High School

[On screen text] evaluate

Meagan Creeley: At Leeton High School we have many successful programs and initiatives to cater for the needs of students across different domains of physical, creative, the social-emotional. But we really want to enhance our knowledge and practice around supporting students in the intellectual domain. And that was one of our motivating factors, one of the key factors in us wanting to join and become an early adopter school.

[On screen text] Libby Hamilton – Teacher Lindfield Public School

Libby Hamilton: We felt like we were catering quite well for our students, but we felt that we wanted to do more. Our main goal was to ensure that all of our high potential gifted students were recognised. We were worried that our EALD students and perhaps our students with learning disabilities or difficulties, or our students who were underachieving, that maybe they had been overlooked.

[On screen text] assess and identify

[On screen text] Understanding new terminology

Voiceover: Understanding the policy meant exploring new concepts and language around high potential and giftedness, talent development, and domains of potential. The early adopter school participants saw the value of developing a common understanding of the policy language among their staff. All schools engage in immediate professional learning, resulting in positive change. This enabled them to confidently discuss high potential. Speaking specifically about student strengths, rather than using the blanket terms of giftedness, which can be polarising.

[On screen text] Sally Doig – Teacher Leeton High School

Sally Doig: When we first started with the early adopter school process, I think a lot of us had in mind the old definition of gifted and that this was this sort of elite few that were really the top academic students in the school. And in fact, there was even a mindset at our school that we didn't have any of those students. So through the process, we've really seen a shift in mindset away from that definition and towards a focus on looking at student potential and that we do actually have quite a lot of students in our school that have high potential. And the shift has also occurred because we're no longer focusing just on the intellectual domain - that we recognise that students can have high potential in any of the four domains.

[On screen text] student potential

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

[On screen text] engagement with policy

Jaclyn Cush: And I think engaging in the early adopter school project and engaging with the nuances of the high potential and gifted policy, it's helped refine my language so that I can talk with students and families about a range of talents and potential that doesn't bring with it those unnecessary pressures.

Libby Hamilton: For us, it was about really thinking deeply about the right decision for the most appropriate form of learning opportunities for students to develop that talents.

[On screen text] effective learning

[On screen text] The value of the project

Voiceover: The new policy provided valuable outcomes for teachers, leaders and students, both in attitudes, teaching practice and student outcomes. All schools reported that their staff had embraced the policy strongly because they understood it was core business.

[On screen text] 21% to 57%

One school reported an increase from 21% of staff to 57% of staff who realised that concerning disengagement was occurring in their classes. These understandings and many more were achieved by quality, research-based professional learning and analysis of a survey focusing on teacher attitudes and practices, both resulting in timely buy-in by educators.

[On screen text] Kylee Seabrook – Teacher Leeton High School

[On screen text] evaluate

Kylee Seabrook: The most valuable aspect of being involved in the project was through the extensive training and intensive reflection on current school practices and the development of a high potential and gifted lens through which we can view our students, so to speak. I feel we're better equipped to engage staff, students and key stakeholders in the development and fostering of high potential and gifted learners.

Jaclyn Cush: For me it's been quite eye-opening to see how other schools and contexts have been implementing the high potential and gifted policy, and it's been really rewarding to share some of our expertise in this context. I think working from colleagues from across the state from a range of contexts - rural, primary, secondary - have been really valuable.

[On screen text] collaborate

[On screen text] Sarah-Jane Hazell – Principal Paterson Public School

Sarah-Jane Hazell: I think one of the most valuable aspects of being involved in the project and one that was possibly slightly unexpected, was the deepening understanding that we had of the work that was going on across the schools in our network. Even though I would say that we're a community of schools who have worked quite closely together for a number of years, really digging into exactly what was going on in one another's schools was really helpful, both in terms of supporting the students across the learning community to understand the opportunities that were available, but also in terms of identifying some really exciting staff expertise.

[On screen text] collective efficacy

[On screen text] Megan Lockery – Principal Lindfield Public School

Megan Lockery: By having involvement in this project, it's allowed us to really fine-tune and target classroom practice in terms of high potential learners.

[On screen text] implement

[On screen text] Overcoming challenges

Voiceover: There were challenges to overcome for both the HPGE team and for the schools due to events such as COVID 19, online learning, staff turnover, and the change that these events engendered, as well as the new mandatory policy.

Megan Lockery: Change management is always hard, so it has to be done slowly. You need to think about your timing. You need to be targeted about it. So we made sure that in order to introduce these new ideas that we planned for it. So the challenge was - how are we going to make people start thinking about how to cater for their high potential?

[On screen text]

professional learning


trial strategy



The way we did it, we stepped it out, so we had professional learning. Then we worked as a team to change one of our units of work to incorporate some high potential strategies in that. From there, we asked teachers to go off on their own and trial a strategy, bring it back to a teach-meet so they could share it and celebrate it. From there, we then chose particular strategies for stage groups to trial. So, for instance, stage three were all given the abstraction strategy to trial. And then by the end of the year, we were asking teachers to come back and tell us - how well did you go with some of these strategies and tell me about a child that you worked with around the high potential domains.

Sarah-Jane Hazell: Another really big challenge that we faced was the turnover of staff, so we had a number of key staff leave during the course of the project, and the advice that I would give is to involve teams rather than individual people. It's wonderful for the system that those people then take the knowledge and expertise into other schools they're working in. But in order to maintain the focus in your learning community, it's really important to have a group approach to this and to be bringing new people on board and engaging in that professional learning on quite a regular basis.

[On screen text] Group approach

Mark Long: So as a leader in a school, one of the challenges is how to bring staff on board and how to get buy-in for the implementation of yet another policy, but one that we know is really important. And across a number of schools that we've been working with in communities of practice, has been actually starting with staff and for staff to identify and to tap into the staff strengths, and for staff to identify their own strengths across one or multiple domains, and then to make the connection back to those students that they teach in their classrooms and in their sporting teams and in their music programs and in debating.

Voiceover: One school commented on the importance of ownership of a policy by all staff, including specialist teachers. This means support staff and extracurricular staff all working together with classroom teachers to assess, identify and nurture the high potential in students. It's not a one-person job anymore. It's a team approach.

Libby Hamilton: There was a year 4 student who has learning support needs and his skills were rather basic, and he was given the opportunity to engage in creative talent development and he absolutely flourished in this area, and he was able to make connections and devise innovative ideas. And he was absolutely outstanding. And it was wonderful to see his potential grow and his self-esteem grow because he was given that opportunity.

[On screen text] creative talent development

Voiceover: Finding that high potential and tracking it across a child's education is imperative. When students know that their teachers value and develop their high potential in the pursuit of their personal best, it drives the departmental priorities that every child is known, valued, and cared for

[On screen text] every child known, valued and cared for

[On screen text] Helen Rubeli – Teacher – Gresford Public School

Helen Rubeli: For some of our students knowing in their heart that other students have walked that path and there are possible ways forward and that high achievement is possible and it's valued in our community and across Australia, and will be personally fulfilling to them. I think that's the best gift we can give those students.

[On screen text] Michael Kelly – Teacher – Dungog High School

Michael Kelly: Every student deserves the opportunity to achieve their potential and some students need a little extra help to truly thrive. But providing that extra support is the reason that we all work in public education.

[title on screen] Find the high potential Develop the talent Make the difference

[title on screen] NSW Government logo

[title on screen] © 2021 NSW Department of Education

End of transcript

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

  • When considering how to implement the HPGE Policy in your school, what is your purpose and what are your goals? How can these goals be broadened and yet at the same time, become more explicit?
  • Why would schools need to progressively update their procedures, programs and practices for high potential and gifted students?
  • What would be the opportunities and challenges of implementing the HPGE policy in your school? How would you make the most of the opporunities and mitigate for the challenges?
  • If your school conducted an action research project, what could you investigate?


  • Teaching and learning


  • Evaluate

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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