Domains of potential (Brooke) - film

Covered in this illustration of practice:

Many schools across New South Wales have high potential and gifted students with disability. This illustration of practice follows one such individual in Brooke, a student with a disability who also has high potential in the physical domain. As an Australian representative swimmer, Brooke has refused to let her deafness stand in the way of achieving her dreams.

Watch the film to learn about how Brooke's school has been supportive in facilitating her talent development in the physical domain while simultaneously providing appropriate adjustments and support for her disability.

Domains of potential - Brooke

Transcript of Brooke’s Story video (4 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.

Brooke’s Story High potential and gifted education


Brooke, student at James Fallon High School

Brooke (text on screen with voiceover) – I am fourteen years old and go to school at James Fallon High. I am also deaf. Some might say it holds me back and is a disability, but I love being deaf. If I wasn’t deaf, then I wouldn’t have all the opportunities I have now. Some things I love in my everyday life including reading, anime, Marvel, DC comics, sketching and most of all, swimming.

Brooke – Some of my achievements this year would be getting five gold medals, three silver and one bronze at state level, the state All Schools, and I’m going to Nationals in Melbourne. My biggest achievement would probably be qualifying for the World Deaf Championships in Brazil of course. That’s exciting, my first time overseas, and first time representing Australia so I am excited. So I started swimming technically when I was four. I started because my dad, he wanted me to do triathlons and marathons, but I didn’t like triathlons and marathons because I couldn’t do anything except swimming.

Right now, instead of mainstream school, I’m doing something called the Big Picture. This is a program where students can pursue their interests each term and explain what they have learnt at an exhibition at the end of the term. My passion for this term is English and writing. I want to write books of all genres, but specifically fantasy, and reading in the hardships in life. English is one of my passions, but others are marine biology, art and swim coaching.

Tony Wilson, Advisory Teacher, Big Picture

Tony – The key is we have an individual learning plan for you Brooke, don’t we, so we include these experiences, fantastic learning experiences around her swimming. So, we include that into her learning so that becomes a part of it, towards those goals that she is learning to achieve. So rather than being alongside schooling it’s actually a part of her schooling. We have that great opportunity to do that in this design, in this program and working so closely with Brooke day to day we understand, and we know what’s coming up and we can plan and factor that into her learning. So, it doesn’t have those pressures that she feels like she’s falling behind, she actually feels like she’s gaining from the experiences and that’s the difference that we’re trying to achieve. We talk about authenticity and that’s real, when you’ve had that experience.

Brooke – I like the silence in the water, definitely the silence and the fact that there’s equality for everyone when we get in the water. There’s no sound, no nothing for everyone so that’s just, it’s nice that they know what I feel like in the water.

My short term goals are to get PB’s on all my events and qualify for some national times for able bodies. My long term goals are eventually going to the Deaf Championships and ranking in the top three in the world. Also, in the very long future I hope to qualify for the Deaf Olympics and one day, possibly, the able body Olympics. These may be very hard and far in the future, but this is my dream.


Find the potential

Develop the talent

Make the difference

Copyright 2020 NSW Department of Education

We acknowledge the contribution of the following groups in developing the policy: NSW Primary Principals’ Association, NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, The NSW Teachers Federation, The NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, The Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of NSW, The Isolated Children’s Parents Association, Gifted Learners with Disability Australia, Gifted Families Support Group, Academics and consultants from across NSW, Australia and internationally, Departmental staff, DELS, Principals, School leaders and teachers.

End of transcript

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

  • Consider the students with disability in your school. Do any exhibit high potential in any of the domains: intellectual, creative, physical or social-emotional? How often is their high potential recognised irrespective of their disability? What specific structures does your school currently have in place to develop their talent?
  • What aspects of Brooke’s experience provide a model example for schools in promoting talent development and high support for high potential and gifted students with disability?
  • In the film, Brooke’s teacher talks about how her swimming experiences are integrated with her education and facilitate her learning in other areas. How do you think this could be achieved for students with similar potential in the physical domain in your school?
  • Brooke speaks of the challenges she faces as a result of her disability. How can your school implement the HPGE Policy to assist students like Brooke so that the focus is on their talent development and not just their disability?

For teachers:

  • What key action from the policy do you consider the most essential when supporting students in the physical domain? Why?
  • As Brooke has a disability, she will have a PLAS (personalised learning and support plan). Consider what would need to be in an ILP that caters for Brooke's high potential in the physical domain, as well as her hearing impairment.
  • What future challenges potentially await Brooke and her school? What would be some of the solutions to these challenges?
  • As a teacher, what professional learning opportunities might you need to build your capacity in meeting the complex needs of students like Brooke?


  • Teaching and learning


  • Assess and identify

Business Unit:

  • Teaching, Learning and Student Wellbeing
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