‘Gifted’ usually means that a student is well ahead of his or her peers in academic work. ‘Talented’ refers to exceptional ability in areas like music or sport. The main methods of accelerated learning include placing students into existing programs at a younger age than usual (e.g. year or stage advancement) and modifying the delivery of the curriculum (compacting the curriculum or providing extracurricular programs, for example). Many other schools provide greater depth and challenge to gifted students by offering ‘extension’, giving them additional or different work or placing them with a mentor. Definitions and programs for such students vary from state to state:
In New South Wales, the government offers a range of methods to cater for gifted and talented students, such as acceleration, extension and grouping. Opportunity classes place gifted upper primary school students into selective classes, allowing them to access a high-level curriculum and associate with students of a similar ability in preparation for high school. Highly able senior students are also able to apply to begin first-year university studies during their HSC through the University of New England and Macquarie University. Visit the NSW Department of Education and Communities website for more information about gifted education in New South Wales.
In Queensland, where gifted students are identified, the parent, teachers and principal will collaborate to decide on the best course of action to take. Teachers are then given the necessary development to deal with giftedness and students will be supplied with differentiated learning programs that challenge them. Early entry to Year 1 or taking first-year university subjects in Year 12 are common forms of acceleration available in Queensland. Other schools may choose to differentiate the curriculum — enriching or extending it to provide greater depth and challenge for gifted and talented students. Visit the Department of Education and Training website for more information about gifted education in Queensland.
Many Victorian schools go for ‘extension’ rather than acceleration; gifted and talented students are given additional or different work and might be placed with a mentor. Visit the Department of Education and Training website for more information about gifted education in Victoria.
There are also a number of organisations that specialise in advocacy and services for gifted and talented children, including the Children of High Intellectual Potential (CHIP) Foundation, which provides assessments and information for parents and teachers.
Membership is free and has many benefits, including: