“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
At LaSalle Catholic College we believe that academically gifted students benefit from programs that are designed to meet their special needs.
Our approach to gifted education has been informed by empirical research and data, and our gifted education program offers an extensive range of opportunities for gifted and talented students who elect to join our Lasallian community.
Our Solomon Opportunity Classes are based on the belief that academically talented students will more readily work towards achieving their potential if they are able to access a dynamic, relevant and challenging curriculum in a supportive environment with their intellectual peers.
It should be noted that our Solomon Opportunity Class concept differs significantly from streaming which is usually associated with a whole year level group being allocated to differentiated classes on a sliding scale from the ‘top’ class to the ‘bottom’ class. The Solomon Opportunity Class is only one class, as is the MacKillop class: all other learning groups in Years 7 remain mixed ability classes.
Students in our Solomon Opportunity Classes exceed the state mandated syllabus requirements and core outcomes, with these cohorts benefiting from increased pace and complexity in both the material and skills taught.
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.
From 2016 onwards Year 6 students who elect to join the Solomon Opportunity Class will be required to sit an entrance examination in March of the previous school year. The results from this test will be coupled with an interview process, and a group of highly academically able students will be selected to participate in the Solomon Opportunity Class.
Please note that re entry into the Solomon Opportunity Class the following year is not an automatic process. Student performance and teacher recommendation will be taken into consideration. Students not in the Solomon Opportunity Class who perform particularly well throughout the year will be warmly encouraged to apply for entry into the Solomon Class for the next year.
The College works on a case-by-case basis to offer accelerative options to 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 that may otherwise be snuffed out in a slower progression based on chronological age alone.
Learning in Depth Program
The Learning in Depth (LiD) program is an innovative, contemporary pedagogy offered to students in the Solomon Opportunity Class at LaSalle Catholic College. These highly capable students are encouraged to embrace their natural curiosity and develop independent study projects related to a unique topic selected at the outset of the course. As students become increasingly aware of the complexities and depths of their chosen field, they produce impressive artefacts of their learning and present these in portfolios consisting of spoken, multimedia and digital texts.
Pathways into English (Ext I & II) and Maths (Ext I & II)
Participation in the Solomon Opportunity Class supports our gifted learners in achieving these goals by offering academically rigorous courses of study that act as pathways into Advanced and Extension HSC subjects in Years 11 and 12.
- Junior Film Project: In Stage 4 students come together once a week to write, shoot, edit and publish short films.
- Debating & Public Speaking: Students in Stages 4 & 5 participate in Catholic Schools Debating Association.
- Sparkathon: Representatives from our Year 7 cohort participate with other Sydney Catholic Schools in a challenging competition that draws from all key learning areas.
- LaSalle Writers’ Shield: An annual school based competition open to all students. Each year the best entries are collated and published in an anthology of student work.
- Links with Universities: The College facilitates students entering short term enrichment programs with the University of NSW, University of Sydney and Western Sydney University. We also offer a Stage 5 students the elective ‘Big History’ in conjunction with Macquarie University.
Social and Emotional Support
LaSalle Catholic College recognises that many gifted students have unique social and emotional needs different to those of their chronological age-peers, and provide a number of support services and interventions to nurture these students’ growth and assist with their holistic development.
Nurturing Catholic Environment
A fundamental tenet of Catholic education is the provision of a nurturing and supportive learning environment for all students. LaSalle Catholic College is fiercely devoted to achieving this ideal and providing each of the students entrusted to our care with the best possible education in the most welcoming and supportive environment. This care for the individual child 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, and for those students the College has designed and implemented the Junior Reading Project. This initiative provides a number of gifted students from Stages 4 and 5 with the opportunity to join together in like-ability peer-support groups to discuss and respond to a range of social justice issues examined in modern literature. This helps these 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.