Guidance for high ability practice leaders on how to be nominated for the role, what it involves and the support that is available.
Every Victorian government primary and secondary school has access to a high ability practice leader (HAPL) who is a member of that school’s teaching staff.
A database of high ability practice leaders is managed by Student Excellence in the department, and it is the responsibility of schools and school leaders to communicate any changes of staffing in the role. Schools may nominate as many high ability practice leaders as they wish. It is usual for a school leader to be listed on the database.
Nominating a high ability practice leader
Each school is required to have at least one high ability practice leader (HAPL) who is a current member of the teaching staff. Schools may have as many high ability practice leaders as they wish, and it is usual for a school leader, either the principal or assistant principal, to be one of those listed on the Student Excellence contacts database. This needs to be kept up to date to ensure that schools receive current information from the department.
The duration of the role is determined by the school in accordance with the
Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2022 and the department’s
Management of Teacher Work Guide.
It is expected that the role will be allocated for at least 12 months.
The allocation of the high ability practice leader role must be done in consultation with the staff member involved. In other words, they must know and agree that they are to take on the role and understand its nature and what is required.
School leaders or teachers should communicate any staffing changes to the role to Student Excellence. Teachers can nominate themselves by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org, ensuring that they cc their school leader and any other nominated high ability practice leaders at their school.
The high ability practice leader role requires extra time and work commitment and the allocation of work for the person who takes on the role is a matter for the principal to manage. The principal has responsibility for determining that the role does not entail an unreasonable or excessive workload.
The principal can arrange for time release or special payment for high ability practice leaders if it is considered to be appropriate.
Student Excellence Program (SEP) funding can be used to support high ability practice leaders in their work.
The role of the high ability practice leader
The high ability practice leader has several main duties that can be divided into 4 main parts:
- coordinating the participation of their high-ability students in the Student Excellence Program initiatives, especially the Victorian High-Ability Program (VHAP) and the Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series (VCES). High ability practice leaders are given access to the
- advising, supporting and building their teacher colleague capability to understand and cater for their high-ability students
- communicating and liaising with all those involved in the education of their cohort of high-ability students, including other school staff and parents
- collaborating with other schools in their region or network in order that their students participating in the Victorian High-Ability Program have access to a local masterclass with other students from their area.
In this video, the high ability practice leader (HAPL) at Tarneit Rise Primary School details how she has enacted her HAPL role. The focus of the video is on demonstrating the scope and possibilities of the HAPL role.
Support for high ability practice leaders
Support from school leaders
It is expected that high ability practice leaders will be supported in their role in the first instance by their school leadership team. If they are unable to carry out their role, for example, in coordinating the participation of their high-ability students in the Victorian High-Ability Program or Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series, the school leader may take over the high ability practice leader’s role or nominate another Victorian Institute of Teaching registered staff member and communicate this to Student Excellence at
High ability practice leaders supporting each other
Although each school is required to have its own high ability practice leader, schools may wish to consider pooling resources to support their high-ability students. High ability practice leaders from different schools are encouraged to network and work together.
In this video, high ability practice leaders from Taylors Lakes Secondary College, St Albans Secondary College and staff from collaborating schools in the Lilydale Education Plan explain how they use HAPL networks to support each other by:
- providing professional learning for their colleagues
- sharing resources
- organising creative, innovative masterclasses for VHAP students.
Larger schools may choose to appoint more than one high ability practice leader. Small schools with 80 or fewer students may wish to partner with other schools to identify a teacher who will work across the schools as the high ability practice leader to support coordination of masterclasses.
Masterclasses for students in the Victorian High-Ability Program for more information about how high ability practice leaders can find and communicate with each other and collaborate, for example, in the facilitation of masterclasses.
Professional learning resources
Induction information for high ability practice leaders
Initial induction information for new high ability practice leaders is available at Induction for high ability practice leaders. This outlines their role in facilitating their students’ involvement in the high-ability programs offered through the Student Excellence initiatives. It also provides links to other relevant resources and information.
Professional learning workshops
Student Excellence provides professional learning workshops on high ability in most terms for primary and secondary high ability practice leaders, school leaders and teachers. Information about these is communicated through the customary email update sent each term to high ability practice leaders. In the past, professional learning workshops have covered topics such as:
- identifying high ability and developing Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
- differentiation for high ability
- addressing underachievement and supporting the social-emotional needs of high-ability students
- twice-exceptional students
- school improvement and high ability.
Recordings of past professional learning workshops are available by emailing
Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES)
Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES) has been established as a ‘centre of excellence’ and a hub for
professional learning for teachers related to the needs of high-ability students.
Victorian Association for Gifted and Talented Children (VAGTC)
Victorian Association for Gifted and Talented Children (VAGTC) and the
Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented (AAEGT) contain resources for educators to support high-ability students.
VAGTC also run free seminars, funded by the Department of Education, for parents of high-ability children. For more details, see
Funding for professional learning
Schools may use their
Student Excellence Program (SEP) funding allocation to support attendance at high ability practice leader professional learning activities.
Practical support in administering the Victorian High-Ability Program
Practical support is available through a variety of sources for high ability practice leaders who are managing their school’s cohort of students participating in the Victorian High-Ability Program.
Information and resources are accessible through icons at the top of the
VHAP/VSV Portal, including, for example, the HAPL Welcome Pack, Support F.A.Q.s, HAPL Help and the Student Welcome Pack that enables HAPLs to see what selected students receive.
Technical support, including issues and information about login details and access to the VHAP/VSV Portal for high ability practice leaders and students can be obtained by emailing VHAP Support at email@example.com.
Masterclasses for Victorian High-Ability Program Students
All students who participate in the Victorian High-Ability Program receive the opportunity to attend a masterclass towards the end of term 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 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.
Information about planning and running masterclasses can be found on
Masterclasses for students in the Victorian High-Ability Program.
VHAP Masterclass Resources for professional learning videos, running sheets, resources and sample activities.
For further information, please contact Student Excellence at
For technical support related to the VHAP/VSV Portal, please contact VHAP Support at