Extension program sees high potential learners thrive Extension program sees high potential learners thrive

The High Potential Learners (HPL) program at St Rita's College is supporting gifted students in Years 7 and 8, providing a truly inclusive and capability-appropriate education to young learners.

Some 50 students regularly attend specialist Mathematics and/or Humanities classes, with visits by guest teachers from the fields of Modern History, Science, Culture, Language, Research, Mathematics, Drama, and Film and Television. 

The HPL program provides deep dives into topics of interest, with sophisticated and unique subjects that take them beyond the usual classroom scope. Students are also exposed to higher end teamwork and problem-solving skills through subjects like trigonometry, civil rights, filmmaking, and protest poetry.

The rates of giftedness in any cohort vary, but most Australian state education systems agree that, on average, 10% of the population could be considered gifted. 

The College’s Head of the High Potential Learners Program, Ms Joanne Ikin, said the program allowed for students to learn more about themselves and their study habits, alongside content extension.

"Underachievement is a prominent issue for students identified as gifted and talented, so targeting passion, engagement and good study habits early is key for success in their future," Ms Ikin said.

The program also recognises High Potential Learners' psychological pressures and characteristics to create better outcomes for the students. The specialist subjects draw on a model called the Autonomous Learner Model, which aims to empower students in self-management of their learning and interests. 

“If they understand how they learn and where their strengths lie, they can use this knowledge to manage and improve their studies," Ms Ikin said.

The benefit of giving students autonomy and chances to engage with complex topics has been clear, with successful results in prestigious extension competitions.

Students end the year with a Humanities Extension Learning Fair to showcase their ‘passion project’. The Fair is a kaleidoscope of short stories, songs, documentaries, animations, essays and reports.

“I’m really enjoying the opportunity to participate in an extension class and challenge myself in the Humanities subject," Year 8 HPL student Madeline said. 

"I’m looking forward to learning more in this class."