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.
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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 three or more other sub-scales.
They would also be able to read and write at (Victorian Curriculum) Level 2 or above and be autonomous, thoughtful, 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 an interview with the parents / guardian and the child, together with a submission by 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 progressively increase the overall number of children enrolled at Alatus in at-least the first five-years of the School’s operation. Many Independent Schools have eligibility criteria for enrolment and Alatus will as well - these will be fully disclosed in the Enrolment Policy & Procedure and aligned with helping the School identify which children would benefit most from, and are highly suited to, the Alatus Learning Approach.
Meantime, the Eligibility Criteria are now summarised on the enrol page so prospective applicants can begin to meet them.
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 curriculum 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 subsequent amendment to our registration by the VRQA, Alatus currently anticipates extending to Years 7, 8 and 9 (ie. children turning 13, 14, & 15 years old) from the year 2024 onwards. This means that Alatus learners will have the choice to commence their secondary education at Alatus should they wish. From Year 10 onwards (ie. children turning 16 years and older) , 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 will 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.
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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 suitable premises in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Our goal is to have our initial premises within the grounds of an established “host” school and we are currently in advanced negotiations with a wonderful potential host school that meets our priorities. We aim to reach contractual agreement by 30 August 2019 and to sign in September 2019 - and then open Applications for Enrolment.
We recognise how important it is to parents who are considering Alatus for their child to understand where the School will be located! It is important to us too and we obviously can’t open applications for enrolment until we all know. We will continue to provide further updates here, in our Newsletter, to those who have expressed interest, and on social media.
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Subject to registration, Alatus will charge fees as an Independent School.
We need to secure our premises before we can finalise our fees. Per above, we are aiming to agree our premises in August 2019, secure them in September 2019 and expect to finalise our fees on the same date - and disclose them as part of the Enrolment process. 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. In time and with support from parents and the broader community - we aspire to commence a program where-by parents in need would become eligible for discreet fee or school-materials assistance distributed via the School. We are also looking at potential scholarship structures. These remain under exploration; however, such measures are unlikely to be in-place in time for the initial intake.
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Applications for Enrolment will open after the School has secured our premises and confirmed our fees. We aim to do each of these in September 2019 and then open Applications for Enrolment - we are doing everything we can to target doing this in September, before commencement of the School Holidays.
When that time comes, the enrol page will be the place to start the process! Meantime, we want prospective applicants to have the information they need in-order to be well-prepared when Applications for Enrolment open. Accordingly, we have now added further content to the enrol page and ask all prospective applicants to please read it.
The remainder of the answer to this FAQ has now been updated and also moved to the enrol page.
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The name "Alatus School” and the integrated butterfly device are Registered Trademarks®. The name "Alatus Learning Approach” is a Trademark™.
Alatus School® is subject to registration as an Independent School and minimum viable enrolment for Term 1, 2020.