Q&A with Rachel 2: What options are there to extend advanced learners at school?

In November last year, we published ‘Our director answers YOUR questions about your child’s education’

In it, we covered common parent concerns such as understanding the NAPLAN results and avoiding the ‘homework battle’!


In this post, we focus on frequently asked questions about extension options for advanced learners. Here are some tips straight from My Academy’s Director, Rachel Dreier.


What does it mean to be in the extension class?  


Most schools now offer extension; however, it is important to look at the type of extension that is being offered.  Vertical extension is not a favoured method by most educational professionals, although it is still widely used in WA.  Horizontal extension has been viewed as the best type of extension for many years and leading educational countries support this method.  Horizontal extension is the expansion of knowledge into unfamiliar settings and how this knowledge can be applied to the world around, as opposed to vertical extension, which simply builds content knowledge in a narrow area.


The children in the extension classes will be working at higher levels, so it can be very good for children to be working at a level that they love with other like-minded children.


What is Gifted and Talented? How are all the children in the class being catered for? 


‘Gifted and Talented’ is unfortunately a term that has been misused for many years!  A person can only be one or the other, not both.  A classic example of a gifted person is Leonardo Da Vinci – he could turn his hand to any aspect of life and excel in it.  Whereas Mozart would be considered talented as he excelled in oneparticular area and was without doubt an exceptional pianist. However, these terms are widely debated and in some research giftedness is simply measured by IQ to give it measurable parameters.


Gifted behaviour consists of attributes that reflect an interaction among three basic clusters of human traits—above average ability, high levels of task commitment, and high levels of creativity. Individuals capable of developing gifted behaviour are those possessing or capable of developing this composite set of traits and applying them to any potentially valuable area of human performance.


Children who are able to create an interaction between the three main clusters do require different activities to other children.  Without the opportunity to fully use their potential these children can become bored and disengaged, which is where the extension classes are of major benefit in keeping these children engaged and working to their full potential.


Is my child a good candidate for the GATE (ASET) test?  


The GATE (ASET) programmes are designed for children who are working well above average and require additional extension.


Most children applying for the academic programmes will already be in extension classes and PEAC (if these are available at their school) and will have scored very highly in NAPLAN.


While GATE preparation courses can assist all children to perform better in an exam, they are ideally designed for children already achieving at the levels described above.


Rachel is available for a limited number of engagements to speak with your parent or community group in Perth and answer your education questions. Please contact us if you’d like to know more.



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