Arden welcomes students with a range of academic abilities. Every year we educate a significant proportion of students who possess exceptional learning potential. Consequently, our teaching staff has developed a range of provisions to ensure that learning is targeted to provide an appropriate level of challenge for each student.
Transforming the gifted child into the talented adult
At Arden we see giftedness as the possession of exceptional natural abilities while we define talent as the systematic development of these skills into outstanding performance in one or more fields. This is the model of giftedness developed by Canadian educator Francois Gagne. Central to this model is facilitating the transformation of the gifted child into the talented adult.
Many students come to Arden identified as academically gifted, or are identified as gifted by staff, parents and peers throughout their time with us. Our goal is to transform students with high academic potential into talented individuals able to use their abilities to create, problem solve, contribute and serve others in their community.
While all students at Arden are trained to think about and take responsibility for their learning, this is especially important for gifted students where effort can seem to be unrelated to results. Gifted students need opportunities to be challenged, to find tasks difficult and to make mistakes if they are to transform childhood giftedness into exceptional adult abilities.
We know that gifted students frequently have increased sensitivities (called “over-excitabilities”) to physical, emotional and ethical situations. Our classroom teachers are aware of these special needs and work with these students to acknowledge and support their experiences, as well as assist in managing their emotions in the mainstream classroom setting.
Ad Altissima program
Our Ad Altissima program is designed to enrich, excite and challenge our most academically able students, taking them to a higher level. There are a number of elements to the program, which aims to capture and extend the interests and talents of our students.
Subject Area Differentiation
We identify students who are strong in one or more subject areas and offer these students access to Ad Altissima content. Ad Altissima content seeks to challenge and enrich the content laid out in the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards syllabus documents.
Year 7 Visible Thinking
Research has shown that it is often highly able students who feel the most hesitant about taking risks and sharing views on topics that are new to them. At Arden we want to break through this barrier. We do this by identifying a small group of highly able Year 7 students and, using Harvard University’s Visible Thinking approach, we challenge them to verbalise and write down their thinking so that they can learn to share it with others.
Year 8 to 10 Personal Interest Pathway
Teachers nominate students from Years 8 to 10, in one or more subjects, to take part in the Personal Interest Pathway (PIP). The PIP is an opportunity for students to choose and develop a project in an area of interest. Each student is mentored by a teacher who helps them develop their project. The PIP allows students to explore areas beyond the curriculum and this enriches and extends the learning that occurs in the classroom.
Year 11 Philosophy
Arden’s partnership with Macquarie University enables our Year 11 students to undertake a 1-unit course in philosophy, teaching them the skills to analyse and deconstruct arguments.
Arden students have the opportunity to be involved in a variety of academic competitions including the da Vinci Decathlon and the International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS).