THE selective state high school model seen in metropolitan areas is not practical for the smaller population bases of regional NSW but that doesn’t mean our academically-gifted children should miss out.
Orange High School’s gifted and talented program for students up to Year 10 is not designed to mirror selective high schools in Sydney but it should ensure the brightest children are challenged to reach their full potential.
In Sydney, state schools such as James Ruse or Fort Street high regularly achieve some of the very best HSC results in the state. Selective schools dominate in terms of the highest ATARS achieved and the number of students achieving band six results in the HSC.
Given that these schools are extremely selective in which students they take, these results should be expected.
However, in regional centres it is simply not possible to dedicate one state school in a city like Orange to educating the most academically-gifted students and yet these students deserve to reach their full potential too.
The gifted and talented program to be rolled out from year 7 to 10 at Orange High School will allow specially-trained teachers to tailor programs for students identified as gifted and talented across a range of areas.
Apart from encouraging these students for their own sake, the great advantage of a gifted and talented program within a mainstream school is that the school does not lose its academic leaders to another school.
They remain part of the school’s social and academic mix and by their striving should help lift other students in the year.
Ultimately the whole school benefits by keeping the gifted and talented students enrolled and engaged. An emphasis on leadership in the selection process gives some insight into what Orange High will expect from students in its gifted and talented classes in the future.