At Meriden we understand gifted children have unique learning needs that warrant particular attention within the school environment. We are committed to meeting the needs of our highly able students through extension and enrichment activities that occur within the classroom, throughout each school day. Highly able students benefit by interacting and establishing relationships with others of similar abilities and interests, and to facilitate their learning, our gifted students are frequently grouped together for learning activities.
Our fine standard of academic achievement testifies to the richness, depth and rigour of the learning environment provided for our gifted students; one in which they thrive! We regularly celebrate the achievements, effort and character of our students, including those of our highly able students. Our girls regularly excel in external assessments and competitions and in National Testing, eg ICAS competitions, NAPLAN. Meriden has several senior staff members who are highly qualified and experienced in understanding addressing the needs of gifted students.
Inspiring Inquiry Learning
In the Junior School, the Inquiry Learning approach is integral to our teaching, and we believe it is beneficial to all our students, regardless of their academic disposition. This approach is based on structured inquiry within a community of learners, and facilitates the intellectual, social and personal development of our students.
Using the inquiry approach, students are strongly and actively engaged in their learning, are encouraged to pose questions or problems and to research for answers or solutions. Inquiry learning fosters the ability to investigate independently, to process, organise and synthesise information, and to draw reasoned conclusions.
Students are encouraged to reflect upon the various approaches they have taken in the learning process, to determine which ones assisted their progress and which did not. Self reflection enables the girls to analyse their preferred learning styles and to grow as effective learners.
As part of Meriden’s commitment to the needs of gifted students, staffing investments have been made in the positions of Learning Enhancement Coordinator and School Psychologist. Support for teachers in differentiating the curriculum is provided, together with the provision of stimulating, learning resources. Professional development training in Gifted Education is provided for our teaching staff.
Process of Identification
In the Junior School, thorough, school-wide assessment and standardised screening processes are regularly undertaken for all students. The progress of our students is carefully tracked to identify those who may need assistance or those who may benefit from extension programs. Further, more formal assessments may be undertaken to clarify the needs of individual, gifted students and a learning pathway is developed in consultation with teachers, parents, psychologists and the students themselves.
In Class Differentiation
All teachers in the Junior School carefully plan extension activities for each of the Key Learning Areas, and consideration of prior learning is incorporated in the planning process. Students’ current skills and knowledge form the springboard for new learning.
The Inquiry Learning approach allows teachers to differentiate the content, pace, process, product and environment so that learning experiences are scaffolded around students’ needs, interests and competencies. Students participate in learning experiences of varying detail and depth, depending on their strengths.
Grade-acceleration or early entry to school is available at Meriden, if it is considered to be in the best interests of the individual student. Accelerated progression is managed by a Gifted Education Committee and decisions are made in consultation with parents, students, teachers and professional advisers, including our School Psychologist.
A girl’s academic ability, social and emotional wellbeing, and capacity to attend to classroom tasks and work output requirements are issues that are considered carefully in relation to whole grade acceleration. Psychometric assessment is foundational to this process. Meriden’s early entry policy and procedure encompasses the process of acceleration for those students commencing school at an early age.