Alatus is a proposed new primary school in Melbourne, Australia specialising in gifted learning.
Many schools offer a range of options for gifted learners which are in addition to differentiated classroom learning. Examples include enrichment and extension programs, special projects, higher-order thinking competitions, talent development and Individual Learning Plans (ILPs). Some schools also offer mentoring programs, counselling or social / emotional programs and acceleration or grade-skipping in special circumstances.
Alatus is different because the Alatus Learning Approach™ is specifically designed for gifted learning.
The Alatus Learning Approach ™ is based on extension and enrichment principles such as developing depth of understanding and going beyond the curriculum. The learning involves creativity, higher-order thinking, open-ended challenges and problem solving. Learners do not belong to a class based on their age; rather, they attend a range of workshops at their level to learn concepts and skills. The ratio of learners to mentors at Alatus is low with workshops being dynamic and small. Alatus learners have regular individual-mentor sessions where they are highly involved in designing their learning pathway.
We believe that children who stand to benefit the most from the Alatus Learning Approach would have an aptitude assessed in a recognised IQ test as being in the top 5% of their peers in one or more sub-scales (eg. Comprehension, Matrix-Reasoning, etc.); and as being in the top 20% in all other sub-scales.
They would also be able to read and write at (Victorian Curriculum) Level 2 or above and be autonomous, fast-paced learners; be, or desire to be, highly-engaged in their learning; be open to being challenged; and be able to work independently in a co-learning environment.
It’s also important that your child is keen on the idea of attending Alatus and likes the idea of how children will learn here. Accordingly, there will also likely be a interview with the parents / guardian and the child, together with a submission requested from the child.
Like all schools, we will have a finite number of places each year at Alatus. We will likely never be a large school, however, we expect to enrol a progressively larger intake in each of at-least the first five years of the School’s operation. Many Independent Schools have enrolment criteria and Alatus expects to as well - these will be aligned with helping the the School identify which children would benefit most from the Alatus Learning Approach.
Sometimes it appears as though all gifted children find life and learning easy. It’s easy to assume that they don’t have any challenges to contend with. However, gifted learners are placed in the category of ‘special education needs’ for good reasons.
Though generalist teachers are doing their best, the very nature of having high intellectual capacity brings a range of learning needs that can be difficult to provide for in the regular classroom. For example, gifted learners often need a faster pace of learning, much higher curriculum content and more opportunities to explore complex concepts than other learners. If gifted learners are regularly restricted from learning in their natural manner, they can become extremely frustrated and lose their motivation and confidence in learning. In the long run, these gifted learners often underachieve and sometimes develop secondary problems as a consequence.
Being gifted can also bring emotional and social challenges that most of us don’t ever face. For example, many gifted children exhibit excitabilities which are ways in which they experience the world with far greater intensity than others. This can have a negative impact on their experience of the world and their ability to integrate with others.
As Annemarie Roeper* puts it, if we believe that the real purpose of education is to not just help children reach their potential, but help them become the person they want to be, then this changes how we run our schools.
*In Educating Children for Life, 2006, Royal Fireworks Press, Unionville, NY.
For these reasons, it’s critical that gifted learners have access to a different learning approach, and this is exactly what Alatus provides.
Gifted learners are usually asynchronous in their abilities and development and it’s far more likely that a gifted child will have high aptitude in just one domain of learning than being gifted in several areas.
In other words, they may have different levels of aptitude and interest in different subjects and be learning at different levels in the curriculum.
The Alatus Learning Approach is designed to allow learners to advance in each subject at a pace that suits them. Overall, every learner will sequentially and systematically work through the curriculum for each subject.
We recognise and celebrate the giftedness of Twice Exceptional children.
We have a finite number of places for all children at Alatus and aim to provide for a number of Twice Exceptional children within our overall enrolment each year.
We will consult with the parents / guardian of any Twice Exceptional applicants to assess the School’s capability – on a case-by-case basis – to reasonably provide for them.
The Alatus Learning Approach enables children to learn at levels based on their readiness.
This means that during their time with us, many of our learners will be learning curriculum at levels higher than their current age. This may include secondary levels, even though we are a primary school. We are aware of some primary and secondary schools that will enable children coming from Alatus to continue their learning pathway at the levels they have achieved. However, we understand that, at this time, there aren’t many schools with these provisions.
Subject to registration amendment by the VRQA, Alatus currently anticipates extending to Years 7, 8 and 9 from the year 2023 onwards. This means that Alatus learners will have the choice to commence their secondary education at Alatus should they wish. From Year 10 onwards, we encourage families to consider the range of schools providing specialised gifted programs for Years 10, 11 and 12.
In cases where a child is to transition from Alatus to another primary school, the child arrive at their new school having covered the relevant curriculum that any other school would normally expect of a child of their age and learning ability. We encourage parents to discuss a suitable learning pathway for their child with potential new schools to ensure a smooth transition from Alatus.
Alatus plans to commence its first classes in Term 1, 2020. This is subject to Alatus receiving registration as an Independent School by the VRQA (Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority) in 2019.
We are presently looking for premises in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. We hope to be able to share more information on the location of the School in the first quarter of 2019.
Subject to registration, Alatus will charge fees as an Independent School.
We are targeting finalising fee schedules in the first quarter of 2019. There are a number of factors to be considered but we are mindful of accessibility and are striving for our fees to be in the mid to upper-mid range of all Independent Schools in Victoria.
Needs-based access to education is an important principle to the Co-founders of Alatus, and - in time and with support from the community - they aspire to commence a program where-by parents in need would become eligible for discreet fee or school-materials assistance distributed via the School. This remains under exploration; however, such a program is unlikely to be in-place in time for the initial intake of students.
Applications for Enrolment will open after the School has received an offer of registration by the VRQA. If we do in-fact receive such an offer, this could indicatively be expected to occur between September and November 2019 inclusive.
In approximately April 2019, we currently intend to begin a pre-application process*, over a defined period of time to be determined by the School, whereby parents / guardians:
> Register some basic information with us and pay a nominal fee^
> Are given the Enrolment Policy & Process and the Eligibility Criteria – which will likely include, amongst other elements: the results of a recognised IQ test for their child, an interview with the parent / guardian and the child, and a submission by the child
> Commence the process of meeting and submitting the Eligibility Criteria, and participating in the enrolment process as advised by us
> Are given priority consideration for enrolment: upon receipt of an eligible Application for Enrolment (after Applications for Enrolments open, and by a lodgement date to be specified by the School)
Meantime, commencing immediately, parents or other interested people can express their interest for a child to ensure that they are notified^* when any such pre-application process begins, and when Applications for Enrolment subsequently open
* A pre-application process may or may not yet happen. Neither any pre-application process, nor any Application for Enrolment, will guarantee a child a place at Alatus School. All applications for enrolment are subject to lodgement and then assessment by Alatus School in accordance with the Enrolment Policy & Process.
^ This nominal fee is yet to be set. It will however be refundable if the School fails to secure registration in sufficient time in-order to be able to open the School on the first day of Term 1, 2020; and will be deductable from the first Term’s fees due if enrolment is offered.
^* Expressing interest for a child confers no rights other than notification as described above. We will, however, contact all those expressing interest for a child to discuss their interest.
Copyright © 2018 Penny Willoughby & Rhonda Ooi. All rights reserved. The name "Alatus School", the integrated butterfly device and the "Alatus Learning Approach" are Trade marks™
Alatus School is subject to registration as an Independent School.