Excellence for high potential and gifted students

The High Potential and Gifted Education (HPGE) Policy and School Excellence Framework support schools in providing an excellent education to their high potential and gifted students.

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Image: Developing excellence and improved student learning at every level

Australian Governments commit to promoting excellence and equity in Australian education by promoting ‘a culture of excellence in all learning environments, by providing varied, challenging, and stimulating learning experiences and opportunities that enable all learners to explore and build on their individual abilities, interests, and experiences.’ - Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration 2019

Policy and context

The High Potential and Gifted Education (HPGE) Policy promotes engagement and challenge for every student, regardless of background, in every school, and across intellectual, creative, social-emotional and physical domains.

Fundamental to the policy are issues of equity and excellence.

The policy supports every student to achieve their educational potential as stated in the Education Act (NSW) 1990.

A Leading learning for high potential and gifted students: Directors, Education Leadership and Principals, School Leadership package is available to assist you in planning for mandatory policy implementation from 2021. This aligns with the new school planning cycle, however your school can begin implementation earlier if you choose.

You do not need to create your own school 'policy' for high potential and gifted students.

The focus of the School Excellence Framework is students, and all aspects of the framework are relevant to providing high potential and gifted students with an excellent education. When implementing a new policy such as HPGE, the themes, curriculum provision and differentiation from the curriculum element within the Learning domain, are highly relevant.

Guiding principles of the HPGE Policy

  • All students, regardless of background or personal circumstances, require access to learning programs that meet their learning needs and support to aspire to, and achieve, personal excellence.
  • Our commitment to high expectations for all students includes high potential and gifted students.
  • Achieving excellence for high potential and gifted students is underpinned by effective school environments including quality teaching, learning and leadership.
  • Potential exists along a continuum, where differing degrees of potential require differing approaches and levels of adjustment and intervention.


Understanding high potential and gifted students

The policy draws on Francoys Gagne's definitions of giftedness and talent established in the Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent DMGT 2.0 (2009).

The definition of high potential students across intellectual, creative, social-emotional and physical domains expands the group of targeted students of earlier policies.

Definitions of high potential and gifted students
Image: From high potential to high performance

See definitions for high potential students, gifted students and highly gifted students.

Catering for the needs of highly gifted students

There is considerable variability within high potential and gifted students. Students can be significantly advanced, some by several years or more. As a result, these students may need advanced learning opportunities that match their advanced development. See Catering for the needs of highly gifted students.

Gaps in achievement, known as excellence gaps, may exist between different groups of high potential and gifted students unless specific support is provided. Such gaps further entrench inequality and disadvantage.

Schools may provide targeted support for high potential and gifted students through equity funded initiatives where appropriate. Those who may experience additional challenge in achieving their potential include:

  • Aboriginal students
  • students with disability
  • students from low socio-economic backgrounds
  • students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds
  • rural and remote students
  • students at risk.

Students in your school may experience multiple sources of disadvantage with cumulative effect. Evidence in Australia and abroad shows that many students who experience disadvantage are not proportionally represented in high potential and gifted programs or schools.

The provision of tailored support to access educational opportunities can help your students overcome some of the disadvantage that they have experienced. Your school's learning support team has a role to play in the allocation of support or intervention.

CESE's research findings

CESE’s Revisiting Gifted Education (2019) literature review synthesises the gifted education research base and summarises the research on effective practices for schools and teachers. The main findings include:

  • High potential and gifted students need more challenging learning with greater depth and complexity. Teaching programs, feedback, deliberate practice, and opportunities to access advanced learning are all necessary to help high potential and gifted learners achieve at a high level and develop their talent over time.
  • High potential and gifted students are found in all social groups. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds or with a co-existing disability may underachieve because of fewer learning opportunities or lack of support.
  • Lack of adequate challenge can contribute to social and emotional challenges. These can include boredom, disengagement, and perfectionist-type behaviours. Challenging learning experiences, positive social relationships and a supportive school environment help high potential and gifted students thrive.
  • High potential and gifted students benefit from explicit teaching and well-structured learning. Like all students, high potential learners require scaffolding and structure in learning to help manage the demands of cognitive load. They may be able to move through structured and scaffolded activities at a faster pace, and then can benefit from problem solving and applied tasks.
  • Specific strategies are also needed to help high potential and gifted students achieve their best. Teaching practices should align the challenge, complexity, depth and pace of learning with the learning needs of high potential and gifted students. Specific strategies may include advanced learning pathways (including acceleration), extension and enrichment learning.

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.

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