The NSW Department of Education offers year 4 students the possibility of entering Opportunity Classes (OC). These are classes for academically gifted students, teaching content at a higher level than regular classes, throughout years 5 and 6. Children are selected for OC after parents complete an application process and selection is based on an exam and their school assessment marks.
The one drawback is that not all schools offer OC, which means successful students may need to change schools to participate in the program if their school does not offer it. This can seem like a lot of hassle and disruption for parents and the child alike. If your child is already performing satisfactorily in regular classes, the choice to move schools can be difficult. So, is it worth it? There are several great reasons why gifted children should be allowed to attend OC.
Content is taught at a more appropriate level and pace for your child This can mean the difference between your child staying interested in learning or becoming bored and even consequently developing behavioural problems. Gifted students may be disadvantaged and prevented from reaching their potential if they’re not taught effectively and encouraged to flourish. Studying with like-minded peers with similar abilities When gifted students stand out in the classroom it can be difficult on both a social and emotional level, which can affect their willingness to perform at their best. Having equals as peers can encourage learning, create engagement and challenge, and help the child see that excelling is good and normal – and even fun! Accelerated learning Gifted students generally learn at a faster pace than average ones, and this means when they’re taught in the right way, they can progress through core curriculum more efficiently, get ahead earlier and be ready to take on the more challenging subject levels later in their schooling. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of doing very well in their HSC and beyond. Learning is more stimulating, exciting and nurturing of ability OC are taught by teachers who understand and encourage a higher level of performance. Teachers are not held back by needing to accommodate a wider range of abilities. This means that they’re more able to engage students with challenges and encouragement to excel and achieve at a higher level, and to make learning more appealing. Being in an OC can tap into the gifted child’s natural love for learning and make school more rewarding. It’s a stepping stone to attending a selective school Students who’ve enjoyed OC are naturally further along in their knowledge and ability than those students who have not. This means students are better prepared for the selective school placement test and more likely to be successful. Selective school placements are competitive and attending such schools can continue the encouragement of academic excellence and achievement that began in OC.
Application for OC open April each year for year 4 students. The Placement Test takes place mid-year. The Department of Education website has details for parents on how to go about the application process. If your child is gifted, it’s well worth the effort of applying, but note that it is very competitive. Here at GEA, we offer an Intensive OC Preparation Program to ensure students are prepared for the OC Placement Test. We have proven results supporting students with reasoning, problem-solving, extended vocabulary, time management and exam strategies they need to do their best. Our Intensive OC Preparation Program for children in year 4 in 2020 starts now. Find out more here and let us help your child unlock their full potential.