Definitions of gifted and talented
The definition of gifted and talented for Victorian schools is adapted from Canadian psychologist Françoys Gagné’s model, where ‘giftedness’ is understood as outstanding potential and ‘talent’ as outstanding performance.
- Gifted people have outstanding natural intellectual, physical, creative or social abilities.
- Importantly, gifted children and young people might not be high achievers. They could have outstanding potential but can be unengaged and underachieve.
- While all gifted people have the potential to perform at a significantly higher level than their peers, their level of ability may be considered on a scale of mildly to extremely gifted.
- Around 10–15 per cent of people fall within the full range of gifted abilities, however, only 1–2 per cent of people have high to extreme levels of gifted abilities.
Talented people demonstrate outstanding knowledge and skills. They typically develop these skills and knowledge through practice and are often highly motivated and persistent.
Gifted and talented children and young people may have one or more gifts or talents in areas such as:
- separate academic disciplines, such as maths, science, languages or humanities
- physical, artistic or technical ability, such as sport, visual or performing arts, agricultural science or software development
- creativity, innovative thinking and problem-solving
- social, communicative and leadership.
Like all young people, gifted and talented children and young people should be encouraged, challenged and inspired to help them reach their potential.
Gifted and talented children and young people, like all young people, should be encouraged, challenged and inspired if they are to realise their potential.
Learning opportunities for gifted and talented students
Gifted and talented students experience a sense of wellbeing and engagement when they have supportive and challenging learning environments and opportunities that respond to their unique strengths and interests.
School settings should respond to each individual young person’s learning profile. This often means gifted students have a tailored curriculum to make sure they are stimulated and challenged.
A different curriculum offers a variety of entry points for learners who differ in abilities, knowledge and skills to their classmates. This allows them to study at a level that matches their learning.
Gifted and talented students often differ from their peers not only in their abilities, but in how they want to learn as well. They have learning needs that require different strategies and approaches, such as:
- daily challenge in their specific areas of ability or interest
- learning experiences that reflect a range of learning styles
- opportunities to socialise and learn with peers of like-ability as well as work independently on areas of interest
- connections to people and opportunities beyond the early childhood setting or school that support their particular passions and talents while connecting to the curriculum (Rogers, 2007).
Education for gifted and talented students also involves special consideration of their social-emotional development. Some researchers suggest that gifted people are more likely to be sensitive, perfectionists and preoccupied with moral issues. This means they may benefit from social-emotional development support (Sisk, 2009).
Gifted and talented students in learning environments where their abilities are not recognised and supported often experience boredom, frustration, decreased motivation (Neihart et al., 2002) and, in some cases, more severe psychological distress.
The Education and Training Committee’s Inquiry into the Education of Gifted and Talented Students (June 2012) found that some gifted and talented students experience a sense of isolation, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression when their ability is not identified, they are insufficiently challenged or they feel ‘out of sync’ with their peers. They may disengage from learning or deliberately underachieve in order to fit in. Some gifted learners can become disruptive in the classroom or exit school early.
Gifted and talented students have unique learning requirements. Responding to these requirements is not optional – it is a key responsibility of early childhood settings, schools and the Department.
A number of primary and secondary schools in Victoria have sourced external programs or developed their own approaches that suit their particular context, to extend students’ learning within the classroom, school and community environments.
These programs and approaches may include:
- personalising the curriculum to respond to the learner’s needs
- changing the pace, depth and complexity of the curriculum and the teaching method
- different models of grouping, such as interest and subject acceleration
- programs that give students access to specialist expertise and facilities, including facilities in the wider community
- mentoring programs within or between schools to connect students with ‘like minds’
- engaging students with strong personalised learning opportunities that provide greater breadth and depth of learning, such as participation in programs offered by:
- Victoria’s six science and maths specialist centres
- the Victorian State Schools Spectacular
- the Science Olympiad
- the Model United Nations Assembly
- the Higher Education Studies Program, which gives high-achieving VCE students the opportunity to study at a university as part of their VCE. Eligible students can complete one or more first year university subjects in a wide range of areas, including information technology, philosophy, maths and languages. Students who successfully complete the program have an increment added to their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and may receive credit towards an undergraduate qualification.
- opportunities to develop high-level technical or vocational abilities through access to learning in a workplace or community setting.
Secondary schools offer different education options for gifted and talented students to make sure they are challenged in their learning.
The families of gifted and talented students can choose from a wide range of schools with a specialist focus in a particular curriculum area. Schools with specialised programs can also connect with selective entry high schools and specialist secondary schools as part of their outreach programs.
Selective entry high schools
Selective entry high schools provide an enriched learning environment for high-achieving and academically-talented students.
There are four selective entry high schools in Victoria for students in Years 9 to 12:
Students learn alongside peers who perform at a similar level. Teachers at selective entry high schools are experienced in providing a challenging curriculum for high-achieving students.
For more information on these schools, including eligibility and how to apply, see: Selective Entry High Schools.
Specialist secondary schools
Specialist secondary schools that cater for gifted and talented students include:
- Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences – a branch of University High School, this school provides a rigorous academic program focused on science and maths for students in Years 11 and 12.
- John Monash Science School – Victoria’s first specialist secondary school for students in Years 10–12, this school is devoted to science, maths, associated technologies and fields of endeavour.
- Maribyrnong Sports Academy – a sub-school at Maribyrnong College offering specialist programs for students in up to 20 sports.
- Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School – provides a nationally and internationally recognised specialist program for the training of talented young dancers, musicians and visual artists.
These schools provide an outstanding environment for gifted and talented students and support other students across Victoria through their outreach activities.
Select entry accelerated learning programs
Select entry accelerated learning programs are designed to address the learning needs of gifted and talented students who are capable of working at a significantly faster pace and in greater depth than their peers.
Students in these programs usually complete Years 7–10 in three years, giving them more options for their senior years of schooling. This may include choosing to complete additional VCE units, taking the Higher Education Studies Program or entering tertiary education after only five years of secondary schooling.
While many Victorian government secondary schools offer select entry accelerated learning programs, these programs differ between schools. Enquiries about specific aspects of a school’s select entry accelerated learning program, such as the selection process, curriculum content and program structure, should be made directly to the school.
General enquiries about these programs can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The age of minimum enrolment varies across Victorian universities. For more information, see: Early Entry to University
For more information, see: