Alfred Deakin High School

ACT Public School
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Gifted and Talented Education 

at ADHS

Alfred Deakin High has long supported gifted and talented students within the ACT. There are a number of ways students may access programs to support them to develop those gifts in the academic, creative and sporting fields. Only students enrolled at ADHS may seek entry into the program.

G&T Opportunities

Academic | Creative | Physical | Leadership

Academic Gifts

The Unicorn Program

The Unicorn Program is for identified gifted and talented students. Research has indicated that gifted students may benefit from being grouped together in the same class for a number of years. This can lead to improved academic, leadership and social benefits. Alfred Deakin High school is proud to offer classes in the Unicorn Program that cater to the needs of those students.

Unicorn classes are offered in:

  • English (Years 7-10)
  • Mathematics (Years 7-10)
  • Science (Years 7-10)
  • Humanities and the Social Sciences (Years 7-10)

Key Elements of the Unicorn Program

G&T Identification

The program aims to challenge students through:


  • enrichment activities in the academic curriculum
  • independent student inquiry and learning
  • faster pace
  • access to curriculum above age level
  • chances to pursue content at a deeper or broader capacity
  • creative and critical thinking through expanded opportunities for discussion and debate

A range of evidence is used to select students for Unicorn:


  • results from recognised cognitive screening tests
  • relevant external testing that is no more than two years old
  • parental and primary school input gathered through transitions and enrolment
  • national competition results
  • high school academic performance
  • teacher nomination / recommendation

You can find out more by reading our

Open Night Presentation 2019

ADHS Gifted and Talented Identification

Chart 2019

ADHS tests newly enrolled students to determine the best class placement at regular intervals throughout the year. Incoming Year 7s are tested while in Year 6 in September as part of normal transitions processes. ADHS only tests enrolled students.

Not all gifted and talented students find themselves suited to the Unicorn Program. Entry to and exit is determined by student wellbeing, academic interests and always in partnership with the family.

Other Advanced Academic Opportunities

All students at Alfred Deakin High School are invited to challenge themselves academically by participating in one of the following competitions:

Logic, Maths & Science

  • ICAS Digital Technologies
  • Australian Intermediate Mathematics Olympiad
  • Computational and Algorithmic Thinking
  • Australian Mathematics Competition
  • Australian Mathematical Challenge
  • Australian Mathematics Enrichment
  • Australian National Chemistry Quiz
  • ICAS Science
    • Science Fair
    • Da Vinci Decathlon
    • CIT Bridge Building Competition
  • Formula 1 in Schools Program
  • Language and the Social Sciences

    • ICAS Writing
  • Australian Geography Competition
  • ICAS English Competition
  • Australian History Competition
  • ACER Language Competency Test
  • Interparliamentary Debating
  • Individual Faculties coordinate these competitions and students should speak with their classroom teach to find out more.

    Our Unicorn Program Team

    Kellie Williams

    Jennifer Nott

    Gifted and Talented

    Liaison Officer

    kellie.williams@ed.act.edu.au

    Executive Teacher

    Gifted and Talented

    jennifer.nott@ed.act.edu.au

    Creative Gifts

    The creative areas of the school value and foster teamwork, leadership and responsibility as well as demanding excellence in design, performance and production. They can achieve this excellence through:

    • participation in Unicorn Performing Arts (UPA) class in Years 9 and 10 (by audition)
    • participation in Unicorn Visual Arts (UVA) class in Years 9 and 10 (by portfolio)
    • working towards major community exhibitions and competitions in Photography and Art
    • being a part of our music program, ensemble groups or bands.
    • participation in Step into the Limelight, Ausdance Youth Dance Festival and the Australian National Eisteddfod
    • commercial production of documentaries in Media and entry in national media competitions
    • drama performances at school and community events and festivals such as Fast and Fresh/Acting up and Class Clowns.

    Identification and selection for these programs take place across the school year.

    Please contact Rechelle Turner, SLC for Arts/Technology, on rechelle.turner@ed.act.edu.au if you have any questions.

    Physical Gifts

    Physically talented students are identified through individual teacher observation, fitness tests and/or parental and coach involvement in Physical Education and Health. The following programs are offered:

    • Year 8 Unicorn PE
    • Sports Science classes (Year 9 and 10 only) and Advanced Outdoor Education classes (Year 10 only)
    • mentoring using people with highly specialised knowledge and skills
    • maintenance of students' performance records against set goals to ensure continuous improvement
    • study lines for elite performance athletes

    PE staff nominate students at the end of Year 7 to be part of Year 8 Unicorn PE. Senior students may pursue their physical gifts through one of the many Year 9 and 10 PE Electives.

    ADHS offers multiple opportunities to join sports teams to represent the school and ACT. You can find out more here.

    Please contact Sam Gaskin, SLC LEAN, on sam.gaskin@ed.act.edu.au if you have any questions.

    Leadership & Social Gifts

    The Student Executive Group (SEG) enables students to pursue their gifts in leadership and social interests. Nominations take place through Tutor Groups at various intervals during the school year to take part in the Student Forum. You can find out more here.

    PANTHERS and ELEMENTS give students the opportunity to seek leadership on the sporting field and in their English classroom. You can find out more here.

    The Youth Leadership Program, Disability Awareness Program and ADVANCE program give students further opportunities to pursue their gifts in leadership. You can find out more here.

    EXTERNAL LINKS

    ACT Education

    Gifted and Talented Education (with multiple parent fact sheets)

    Gifted and Talented Identification

    Gifted Underachievers

    Dual Exceptionality

    Acceleration (subject) (whole year)

    Communicating with Schools

    Myths and Facts

    Gifted and Talented Policy (pdf) (word)

    Gifted and Talented @ ADHS


    Giftedness refers to a student’s outstanding natural abilities or aptitudes, located in one or more domains: intellectual, creative, social, perceptual or physical, placing that student in the top 10% of age peers.


    Talent is the outstanding performance or competency in one or more fields of human activity that places a student in the top 10% of age peers in that field.


    Alfred Deakin High School offers multiple pathways for students to explore their gifts:

    • The Unicorn Program groups students into four academic classes that match their abilities. Students stay in these groupings for most of high school.
    • A differentiated approach in all classes
    • Sporting teams representing the school and the ACT
    • A wide range of elective opportunities from across the school
    • Specialised performing arts classes
    • Specialised visual arts classes
    • Numerous national national competitions
    • A number of student leadership group
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