Have You Heard of the Newman Program?

Think your child might be gifted? Sydney Catholic Schools is making the identification process easier with its Newman Selective Gifted Education Program.

If you’re a parent of a gifted child, you might be wondering how to give them the academically challenging education they need, but in a faith-based school setting that is still creative and nurturing.

That is what Sydney Catholic Schools created its Newman Selective Gifted Education Program for.

Introduced in 2011, the Newman program is currently delivered at 39 primary and secondary Catholic systemic schools across Sydney.

So Who Is It For?

This year for the first time, all Year 6 students at Sydney Catholic Schools can sit a selective test to identify gifted students to enter the program. On September 12, the Higher Ability Selective Test (HAST) will be sat by students from nine primary schools as part of the first phase of a two-year pilot initiative to streamline entry to the program.

For the first time this year, parents of children in Years 5 and 6 from the pilot schools also have the opportunity to nominate their child for placement in the program in Year 7. They can show evidence of their child’s ability in the form of test results, certificates, and letters from university-based school-holiday extension programs to support their application.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ Newman Selective Gifted Program education officer, Penina Barry, says the new measures would strengthen the identification process for gifted students in Sydney Catholic schools.

“It’s very holistic and there is a lot more parent input,” she says. “It invites parents to put forward clear evidence to help us to gain a clear picture of their child’s abilities.

“If they are getting involved in programs outside of school, that shows a real sense of curiosity, interest and motivation. Primary schools have a wealth of student data and can determine where students may display perfectionistic tendencies or other characteristics of gifted learners.”

The test is formulated and run by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), the education body that also designs the entry test for selective public high schools. It will test students’ reading comprehension, abstract and quantitative reasoning, and written expression.

“It’s very holistic and there is a lot more parent input.”

What Do Students Learn In It?

Newman schools offer enrichment opportunities in creative arts, coding, literacy and Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives, along with extension in each of a student’s timetabled subjects, says Penina.

Newman Selective schools undergo a comprehensive accreditation process every three years to ensure it raises the bar not just for gifted students, but for their non-Newman peers.

Who Runs It?

Teacher professional development is also a feature of the Newman program, with academics and psychologists specialising in gifted education involved in the program’s development and delivery.

“At a Newman school, the whole school is working towards that goal of excellence in supporting gifted learners,” Penina says. “They’re wanting to work beyond the usual standard. Newman pushes the boundaries, not just for the students but for the teachers as well because of the professional learning that goes with accreditation.”

For more information on the Newman Selective Gifted Program at Sydney Catholic Schools, including a list of the 39 schools that offer the program, visit: ydcatholicschools.nsw.edu.au/newman-selective-gifted-education-program

Pilot schools to sit the Higher Ability Selective Test (HAST) in 2017 for entry to the program at All saints Catholic College Liverpool:

  •  All Saints Catholic Primary school Liverpool
  • St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Moorebank
  • St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary School Lurnea
  • St Christopher’s Catholic Primary Holsworthy

Pilot schools to sit the Higher Ability Selective Test (HAST) in 2017 for entry to the program at Our Lady of Mercy College Burraneer or De La Salle Catholic College Caringbah:

  • Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary School Caringbah
  • St Catherine Laboure Catholic Primary School Gymea
  • Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School Miranda
  • St Francis De Sales’ Catholic Primary School Woolooware
  • St Aloysius’ Catholic Primary School Cronulla

This post was brought to you by Sydney Catholic Schools.

Words by Natalie Ritchie