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One of the ways we foster academic excellence at Kolbe is through our Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program. We believe that gifted students need to be holistically nurtured to fulfil their potential and become talented. Therefore, beginning in Year 7, selected students are provided a range of exciting extracurricular opportunities. Challenging content, differentiated lessons, academic competitions, mentoring and a specialised camp are some examples of the support offered within our GATE program.

Rationale and Theory

Kolbe’s GATE program is built upon the research and theories of educational psychology in the following ways:

  • Learning conditions are created with student voice, choice and a differentiated curriculum.
  • Gifted students are engaged and challenged by activities requiring higher order thinking skills.
  • Development of 21st Century and Habits of Mind skills are a focal point of the program.
  • Creative and critical thinking skills are foregrounded.
  • Collaborative learning is encouraged in most activities.
  • In line with the College’s Vision for Learning, lifelong learning is the goal.

Identification of Gifted Students

The GATE program is invitational and numbers are limited, so the commitment of those selected is integral. Students are selected based on their performance in the ACER AGAT test, which is usually conducted in Term 1 for all Year 7 students. To ensure no gifted students are missed, subsequent testing is carried out in Year 8 and for any students new to the College. Ongoing monitoring ensures students are progressing across different learning areas. Kolbe’s GATE Coordinator works closely with all teaching staff to provide appropriate support to our gifted students.

Program Structure

Kolbe’s GATE program starts in Year 7 and culminates in senior school mentorship, allowing older students to pass on their knowledge, skills and experience to the next cohort of students.

GATE lessons are conducted once a week, before or after school for students in Years 7 and 8, and as a timetabled class for one semester for students in Year 9.

Lessons, activities, incursions and excursions vary from year to year to ensure relevance and student engagement. Student feedback is sought each year to continually adapt and improve our program.

GATE students learn about:

  • Linguistics
  • Inventions
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Virtual reality
  • Politics
  • World issues
  • Creative writing
  • Topics of interest

During a GATE lesson, students might work on their passion project, choose from a lesson menu, create costumes out of trash, ideate solutions to complex world problems, or create a podcast to explore new and contentious perspectives.

Activities are often collaborative to encourage our gifted students to develop not only their academic skills but also their social and teamwork skills.

Choice is also an essential part of most GATE lessons to empower our gifted students to drive their own learning. Below are some of the things GATE students get to do within their classes:

  • Passion Projects
  • Lesson menus
  • Breakout boxes
  • Ideation tasks
  • Group tasks
  • Creative and journal writing
  • Competition prep

Events and Competitions

Big projects and competitions are at the core of Kolbe’s GATE program.

As part of our current program, GATE students explore and present Project:Passion, where they are challenged to think outside the box and solve real world problems. They participate in creative and performance-based problem-solving, and are involved in a mock UN Summit.

The GATE Camp fosters leadership, teamwork, social skills and is also lots of fun.

Kolbe’s GATE students can participate in a multitude of academic competitions throughout the year. These include:

How We Stand Out

We care. At Kolbe, we are committed to combining academic rigour with pastoral care. The most intelligent student will underperform if they do not feel loved, safe or have a sense of belonging. By creating fun and engaging spaces for our gifted students, we aim to look after their wellbeing first. A big focus is on fostering social and interpersonal skills to accompany academia. Ethics are always considered in the application of knowledge. We constantly ask: is this good for others? Good for society? Good for the world? In the spirit of Maximilian Kolbe, we strive to be selfless and help others, even in our pursuit of academic excellence.

We try new things. We participate in new competitions and projects every year. Cutting edge technologies, such as our new laser printers and virtual reality equipment, are utilised in GATE sessions, and we are always looking for new ways to challenge ourselves.

We connect. Our mentorship program creates a connection between senior students who have benefitted from GATE and the current cohort. Furthermore, we connect our gifted students with teachers, university students and those in industry who specialise in our students’ gifts or areas of interest.

Learning Enrichment​

At Kolbe, we recognise that every student learns differently. We are commited to delivering learning experiences that allow students to develop and grow at their own pace, to make progress no matter what point they are starting from. At times, that means deviating from mainstream curriculum to provide alternate learning experiences or methods of demonstrating knowledge.

Enrichment Program

For extra learning support, students can be placed on an enrichment program within their regular mainstream classes. This option is reserved for students who have an identified disability that impacts how they access the regular curriculum, or who have demonstrated through standardised testing literacy skills at least two years below their peers.

The following occurs within Kolbe’s enrichment program:

  • Teachers, students and their families work together to identify target goals.
  • Teaching and learning programs are adjusted to support students in achieving these goals.
  • Assessment structures are chosen to align with the goals as well as students’ strengths and interests.
  • Achievement is reported via a comment-based, rather than grade-based, College semester report.
  • New targets are set for the following semester.

Students may be supported by Education Assistants in some classes and our Learning Support teachers work closely with all teaching staff to ensure that individual students’ needs are met.

Learning Support Centre

Students with higher needs than those who can be catered for within a mainstream classroom setting are invited into our Learning Support Centre.

Kolbe’s Learning Support Centre offers:

  • Highly individualised programs that cater to the specific needs and priorities of individual students.
  • Staff who work closely together with external therapists and families to ensure maximum learning and engagement in alignment with student goals.
  • Balance between Learning Support Centre and mainstream classes, allowing students to maintain a connection with the wider school community.

Typically, students who spend part of their day in the Learning Support Centre continue to enjoy mainstream electives, as well as Religious Education and Health and Physical Education lessons.

Literacy Intervention

Standardised testing is conducted at the beginning of Year 7 to identify students with particular weaknesses in literacy. Those students are invited to participate in targeted small group and one-on-one literacy intervention programs aimed at improving their skills in the key areas of reading, spelling and writing.

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