As Christians we understand that all people are made in the image of God and gifted by God for the common good. In a school context we recognise that all children are uniquely gifted and we seek to encourage them to bring those gifts to the exploration of creation and in service of God and others.
How is the Christian school different when it comes to thinking about giftedness?
Our world often places greater significance on particular gifts, whether sporting, academic or leadership in nature. Many see gifts as a means of self-promotion and self-gratification. A biblical understanding of gifts recognises that our self-worth or value is not in our gifts, abilities or talents but in Christ Jesus. The gifts he gives us are to be used for the glory of God and in service of others. With such an understanding, an effective Christian school will seek to nurture the God-given gifts and talents of all students within the context of community. Here at ICS we aim to celebrate and enjoy the gifts in our community, all while fostering an attitude of appreciation and thankfulness to God in students, staff and parents.
Teaching that reaches everyone at their own level
The exceptional nature of some gifts will mean that special educational approaches will need to be developed in order to nurture, unlock and realise their potential. Students are individuals who learn at different rates and in different ways. Individual differences may influence how students respond to instruction and how they demonstrate what they know, understand and can do.
Differentiation is a targeted process that requires forward planning, programming and instruction. It involves the use of teaching, learning and assessment strategies that are fair and flexible, provide an appropriate level of challenge, and engage students in learning in meaningful ways. An effective Christian school will seek to differentiate its curriculum and teaching and learning strategies in order to provide for the specific educational needs of extension and remediation for all its students.
Not just enrichment, but also support
At Illawarra Christian School our learning support and enrichment staff work closely with classroom teachers. Extension and enrichment activities are offered within the classroom, in focus groups and through external events and competitions. Students in regular classes who experience difficulties in areas of learning and behaviour are supported through learning and support resources. Students also benefit from involvement in a wide variety of extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities, including debating, public speaking, sports, performing arts, leadership and other areas of interest and giftedness.
Celebrating all gifts and skills—not simply academic and sporting talent
At Illawarra Christian School we don’t offer academic or sporting scholarships like many schools. We celebrate these gifts and seek to nurture them in our school community, but we place no more value on these gifts and skills than on those of compassion, empathy, hospitality, leadership, music, art or drama. Our desire is to nurture each child to faithfully develop, mature and use their gifts for God, recognising all are important in the body of Christ. We don’t speak of our gifted and talented program, but rather our enrichment program as we want to ensure each child’s education is appropriate for their needs and growth. Likewise, as part of our school leadership team we have a Director of Student Learning Opportunities, Mrs Simone Brown, and her role is to ensure that our educational programs are nurturing and developing the God given gifts and abilities of all our within the school and to look for ways to do this better moving into the future.