“All students regardless of race, age or gender, by virtue of their dignity as human persons, have a right to an education that is suited to their particular needs and adapted to their ability.” Pope Paul VI
Solomon Opportunity Program
Inaugurated in 2011, the Solomon Opportunity Class at LaSalle Catholic College Bankstown, offers a program designed to provide academic enrichment, challenge and extension to gifted students in order that they may have greater opportunity to develop their talents.
The Solomon Opportunity Class was named for Saint Solomon Leclercq fsc (a Brother martyr from C18th France) a gifted teacher and scholar who displayed great love of mankind.
The Lasallian approach to gifted education has been informed by empirical research and data and offers an extensive range of opportunities for gifted students within a pastoral Catholic environment.
The belief underlying the Solomon Opportunity Program is that academically gifted students will work more successfully toward achieving their talent potential if they are able to access a dynamic, relevant and challenging curriculum in a supportive environment with their intellectual peers.
The Solomon Opportunity Program differs from the concept of ‘streaming’ in that all other learning groups in Year 7 remain as mixed-ability classes, apart from the MacKillop class (see Learning Support).
The Solomon Opportunity Program offers an emphasis on learning-in-depth – not more work but challenging work.
Students in Solomon Opportunity classes at LaSalle, exceed State-mandated syllabus requirements and core outcomes. These cohorts benefit from increased pace and complexity in both the content and skills taught. This explicit teaching of higher order skills in Stages 4 and 5 has resulted in the excellent HSC performance of the past three College Duxs (2015, 2016 & 2017), all of whom had been students engaged in the Solomon Opportunity Program.
Identification and Selection Process
A position in the Solomon Opportunity class will be offered to students according to a clear selection process, with transparent selection criteria.
Year 6 students who have enrolled at LaSalle Catholic College for the following academic year, will be required to sit for an Entrance Examination on a date in Term 1. The results of this examination, coupled with the enrolment interview and information from primary schools, will be used to select a group of highly academically-able students for the Solomon Opportunity Class. If places are available, students who are unable to sit for this Solomon Entrance Examination, may be able to gain entry to this class based on the results of the comprehensive Allwell examinations which all prospective Year 6 students attempt in November as part of the Orientation program.
It should be noted that entry into the Solomon Opportunity class each year is not an automatic progression – student performance and teacher recommendation will be taken into consideration. Students from mainstream classes who perform particularly well throughout the year are warmly encouraged to apply for entry into the Solomon class for the next year.
LaSalle works on a case-by-case basis to offer accerative options for our most gifted students. Telescoping curriculum and accelerating students in particular subjects or even grade levels, helps feed the flame of curiosity and interest within these students avoiding disengagement when classes are based on chronological age alone.
Pathways into Studies of Religion, English Extension I & II and Mathematics Extension I & II
Participation in the Solomon Opportunity Program supports our gifted learners in achieving goals by offering academically rigorous courses of study which act as pathways into challenging advanced and Extension HSC subjects in Years 11 and 12.
- Public Speaking and Debating – teams from Years 7-12 participate in the Catholic Schools Debating Association competition.
- Minds on Maths – SCS Southern Region competition and enrichment.
- UNSW – Titration Competition (Stage 6 Chemistry).
- LaSalle Film Festival (Touching Hearts Film Competition) – students from Years 7 – 11 write, shoot, edit and publish short films with a particular Lasallian focus. (Winners from 2016 and 2017 both came from Solomon classes).
- 500 Words – short story writing competition, inaugurated in 2017 (winner from a Solomon class).
- LaSalle Writer’s Shield – written compositions with both fiction and non-fiction subjects as well as poetry are encouraged. The best entries are collated and published as an anthology of student work.
- Choir and Music groups – students from Years 7 – 12 are invited to develop their musical talents with participation in liturgical and College events throughout the year.
- Clancy Art Prize – SCS sponsored religious art competition. Talented artists are encouraged to enter for this prestigious award.
- Links with Tertiary institutions The College facilitates students entering short-term enrichment programs with the University of NSW, University of Sydney and Western Sydney University. The Big History Stage 5 elective, is offered in conjunction with Macquarie University.
Social and Emotional Support
LaSalle Catholic College recognises that many gifted students have unique social and emotional needs which differ from those of their chronological age peers and so we provide a number of support services and interventions to nurture these students’ growth and assist with their holistic development.
- Nurturing Catholic Environment
The provision of a nurturing and supportive learning environment for all students is a fundamental tenet of Catholic Education. LaSalle Catholic College remains fiercely devoted to achieving this ideal and providing each student entrusted to our care with the best possible education in the most welcoming and enriched learning environment. This care for the individual is what sets us apart from other systems.
- Junior Reading Project
Many gifted students find that their maturing social needs are not met by their chronological age peers, for those students the College has designed the Junior Reading Project to be run in conjunction with the I’mREADy program for reading development. This initiative provides a number of Stage 4 students to join together in a like-minded peer- support group to discuss and respond to range of social justice issues examined in modern literature. This aims to assist students to develop an outward-looking perspective on important social issues and provides them with peer-mentoring opportunities.
In line with the increased social needs of gifted learners, LaSalle Catholic College seeks out opportunities for our students to make connections with like-minded peers both within our own school community and across the network of Sydney Catholic Schools.