Specialist teachers boost student learning from Kindergarten

Specialist teachers

St Andrew’s Cathedral School delivers differentiated education programmes starting in Kindergarten for students identified as ‘gifted and talented’ and it’s a specialist area of education that requires specialised teaching and focus, says the School’s Deputy Head  (Primary Education), Mrs Rhonda Robson.

“Every student deserves to have their learning needs identified and met. When their needs are differentiated for, students can fully engage with their learning and thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” she explains.

“Our Junior School has four staff with post-graduate Masters degrees in Gifted Education and more than half of our classroom teachers have completed short courses in Gifted Education. Having expertise in this area significantly increases a teacher’s understanding of, and ability to cater for, the particular needs of academically gifted students.”

So how do you tell if your preschooler is gifted?

Rhonda says it becomes evident from a young age if a child would benefit from additional intellectual stimulus.

“There are a multitude of ways to identify giftedness in the early years, including precocity of vocabulary, literacy and computational skills,” she says. “Reaching milestones in walking and talking and then in early reading competency before their peers, advanced academic performance in the early years, even social and emotional competency in preschool and in the early years of schooling, all point to high academic potential that teachers and specialists can benchmark.

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“From Kindergarten, we provide opportunities in the form of short-term extension groupings that offer intensive challenges in maths, literacy, philosophy and critical thinking. There are additional opportunities for Year 3-6 students that some Stage 1 students may be invited to join as well.”

Rhonda says the nurturing K–2 learning environment, combined with highly experienced teaching staff at St Andrew’s Cathedral School ensures students build strong foundational skills that help develop and extend their talents and interests, whether they are gifted or not.

“We provide small class sizes and additional expert staff to support students with their foundational skills during these formative years,” Rhonda said. “Students learn from specialist teachers in music, languages and science, and we have specialist literacy and numeracy coordinators that benchmark the progress of every student.

“We invest in training our teachers to be the experts in teaching literacy and numeracy, rather than following commercial programs. High quality teaching leads to high quality learning and that’s what we are striving for.”

From Year 3 to 6, St Andrew’s Cathedral School offers accelerated curriculum classes for the most academically able students.

“Gifted students are able to learn content at a faster pace, alongside like-minded peers,” Rhonda says. “It allows them to go deeper in their learning and go beyond the core curriculum.

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“For the exceptionally gifted student, we offer targeted interventions such as subject and grade acceleration. Students also take part in external competitions in various subject areas, competing individually and as a team. Individual educational projects are also designed with a mentor to motivate and extend exceptional students. Our Catalyst Program provides some of our exceptionally talented students an outstanding opportunity to meet regularly with mentors from our Senior College, across a range of interests and subjects, to work towards greater challenge and mastery levels.”

Rhonda says the recent educational trend to understand the Science of Learning has improved the School’s understanding of, and ability to consider, the importance of executive functioning in gifted and talented students.

“We have been assisting our gifted and talented students to understand aspects of their executive functioning, so they can improve their own learning,” she says. “These students are really motivated to extend themselves further once they understand how they learn best.”

St Andrew’s Cathedral School is a Kindergarten to Year 12 Anglican school located in two high rise buildings adjacent to Town Hall station in Sydney’s CBD.

The School is hosting two information evenings for families with primary-aged children in coming weeks:

  • Junior School Twilight Tour, Wednesday 8 March at 5.15pm
  • Gifted & Talented Information Evening, Wednesday 22 March from 6pm, which is open to interested parents and educators from other schools.

To book your place, please visit: www.sacs.nsw.edu.au/gifted&talented


Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, St Andrew’s Cathedral School is an innovative, co-educational day school, providing students from […]

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