Guidance for high ability practice leaders on how to collaborate and organise masterclasses for their Victorian High-Ability Program students.
All students who participate in the Victorian High-Ability Program (VHAP) receive:
- the one-term online program with Virtual School Victoria
- the opportunity to attend a masterclass with students from schools in their local area who have also participated in the Victorian High-Ability Program during that term.
High ability practice leaders (HAPLs) work together with other schools in their area to deliver these masterclasses. They provide opportunities for students to connect with like-minded and like-ability peers in order to reflect on their experiences and delve further into some of the big ideas of the course. It is also a chance to celebrate together what they have learned.
The masterclasses can run for a full day or as a half-day event, either face-to-face or virtually, and take place at a time convenient for the schools involved, towards the students’ completion of the course near the end of the term.
What is a masterclass?
There is no set template for the content within a masterclass. It can be loosely based on the content from the program and can provide further enrichment for the students. Guest speakers, group projects or area-based competitions are just a few of the possibilities for what a masterclass could provide.
Resources and ideas to support high ability practice leaders in the design and delivery of primary and secondary masterclasses in both English and mathematics are available at:
Why are masterclasses important?
Access to peers of the same or greater ability is important for all students but it is especially important for high-ability students. Masterclasses provide opportunities for students to explore new ideas with their like-ability peers beyond the content of the program.
It is common for high-ability students to prefer the company of peers at similar stages of development and this can support their emotional and social wellbeing. Without like-ability interactions, students can sometimes ‘mask’ their ability in order to fit into their same-aged peer group. Moreover, research has shown that like-ability interactions can increase learning growth for high-ability students at a higher rate. See Like-ability interactions for more information on the importance of these interactions.
By providing opportunities for students to explore further some of the big ideas in their term’s classes in a different context, masterclasses help to legitimise and deepen both the content and the learning for the students, ensuring they are meaningful. This is also achieved through the celebration of their individual and collaborative creativity and efforts.
Masterclasses also provide opportunities for high ability practice leaders to come together to share ideas, resources and support.
Collaborating with other high ability practice leaders
Networking through the masterclass lists on the VHAP/VSV Portal
After the first few weeks of each term, when all class lists are finalised for that term, two Masterclass lists of high ability practice leaders from each area are added to the front page of the Victorian High-Ability Program/Virtual School Victoria Portal (VHAP/VSV Portal).
The Masterclass lists enable high ability practice leaders to identify other participating schools with students in the same Victorian High-Ability Program classes as their own, and who are located in the same geographical area, which is important if the masterclass is to be face-to-face.
There is a Primary Masterclass list and a Secondary Masterclass list.
Information can be filtered according to the course and high ability practice leaders’ name in the worksheets (also known as tabs) at the bottom of the Masterclass lists.
- In the course name worksheet, one can search for:
- students’ class names, for example, Redcurrant, Pelicans, Purple or Wattle
- school name
- high ability practice teachers’ names
- area, for example, Western Melbourne, Central Highlands, Barwon, Mallee.
- In the ‘HAPL List’ worksheet, one can search for:
- high ability practice leaders by name
- schools; this is helpful as many schools have more than one staff member assigned to the role, particularly in larger schools.
Networking through the MS Teams channels
There is also a Microsoft (MS) Teams channel. This is a forum for high ability practice leaders to collaborate, exchange ideas and plan together for masterclasses, or anything else.
If you would like to have your name added to one of these MS Teams channels to facilitate contact with other high ability practice leaders from your area, please contact Student Excellence at
Funding for masterclasses
High ability practice leaders can utilise
Student Excellence Program funding to support the running of masterclasses, including any associated costs such as travel or payment for a guest speaker. Where relevant, schools can pool their Student Excellence Program (SEP) funds, for example, in the collaborative delivery of masterclasses.
For further information, please contact Student Excellence at