It’s a beautiful, sunny morning. The kind of morning that makes you want to jump out of bed and start the day. So, why is your daughter not downstairs for breakfast yet? Usually a morning person, you expected to see her bright face by now.
Worried, you approach her bedroom and knock on the door cautiously. No answer. As you creak the door open, she groans.
“What’s wrong? Why are you not up and out of bed yet?”
“I’m not feeling well, I don’t think I can go to school today,” she responds.
You take her temperature, it’s normal. You observe her carefully and she looks no different to any other day. Except her demeanour, it’s as though she’s disengaged.
You recall your last conversation with your daughter’s teacher, in which they described her as a “distraction” and “sometimes irritable”. That doesn’t sound like the daughter you know and love. She’s always been a bright and intelligent child with a passion for learning.
Recently, on morning drives to school, what once stirred up excitement and expectation has become dull and uninteresting for her.
Does this sound familiar?
Often, high performing students can easily become disengaged at school if they’re not being challenged enough. Academically gifted children thrive off challenge. If this isn’t happening in the classroom, school becomes a place they’d prefer not to attend.
How can you address this? Children need to be in a stimulating environment to thrive. Being surrounded by like-minded peers is essential to ensure they enjoy the journey together. An Opportunity Class can be a motivating atmosphere for high achiever students.
For a comprehensive guide on opportunity classes, keep reading.
What are Opportunity Classes?
Opportunity Classes (OC) are offered in government primary schools and cater to academically gifted students in Years 5 and 6 with high potential.
These dedicated classes enable students to learn at a more advanced level with other students of similar academic ability. The teaching methods and content is designed to challenge your gifted child.
Over 12,000 applications are received each year for 76 primary schools with opportunity classes across NSW. To see a list of the schools with opportunity classes in 2021, click here.
How can an opportunity class benefit your child?
Placement in an opportunity class presents a range of benefits to increase your child’s learning. These include:
- Improves motivation to learn
OC is a great way to transform your exceptional child from disengaged to highly motivated. Students are challenged in a way that expands their learning abilities. Unlike a mainstream classroom, your child will be presented with content that they don’t “know already” (heard that one before?) and encouraged to continue striving for excellence.
It’s a highly stimulated learning environment that every academically gifted child needs.
- Learning with like-minded peers
The life of a genius student can be a lonely one. Building friendships can be difficult as they struggle to find other children with similar interests. Yet, positive social interactions are also key for their development.
As an OC consists of children with similar abilities, your child is surrounded with like-minded peers as they learn. This positions them to find new friends who share the same interests, hobbies and abilities.
- Tailored teaching and curriculum
In a traditional classroom, teachers are often not equipped to cater to their more advanced students, leading to boredom and disengagement.
An OC classroom is tailored to meet the needs of gifted children. Not only does the curriculum include advanced content compared to peers in their year group, OC teachers also carry specific training and experience to teach bright students.
This environment recognises that different students respond to different teaching styles and empowers students to direct their own learning.
Opportunity classes are also a great way to position your child for entry into a selective school. However, there is no guarantee of placement in a selective school.
How to apply
Admission to an OC involves the review of school assessment scores and a placement test for entry in Year 5 for a two-year placement program.
The application process begins from Year 4, when students sit the OC placement test. The test is usually conducted in July or August each year. In the past, this test has been paper-based but will be computer-based from 2022.
You can apply online via the NSW Department of Education website.
When to apply
Applications open in May and close in June when students are in Year 4.
To give you an idea of the timing of the OC application process, below are the key dates for Year 5 entry in 2021:
26 June 2020
Applications close for Year 5 entry in 2021
18 November 2020*
Opportunity Class Placement Test
25 November 2020
Last day to change school choices
late December 2020
Selection process occurs
Placement outcome information sent to parents
From mid-January 2021
Parents accept or decline offers
*Note the test for 2020 is being held in November because of COVID-19. The OC placement test usually occurs in late July or early August each year.
What is the structure of the OC placement test?
The OC placement test consists of the following components:
- English – 20 marks
- Mathematics – 20 marks
- General ability – 30 marks
The OC placement score is calculated using the scaled results of the placement test on a statewide basis.
How to prepare for the OC placement test
As this may be the most intense test your child has experienced to date, start preparing now!
Read our previous blog, 7 Useful Tips on Preparing your Child for the OC Placement Test, which provides practical strategies you can implement with your child.
Whatever you need, we’re here to support you and your child on your journey to the Opportunity Class.