Gifted & Talented Education

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.

The Academic Unicorn Program

The Academic 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 7-9) - Advanced Mathematics course offered in Year 10

Science (Years 7-9) - Elective courses run in Year 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

Student identification for the Academic Unicorn Program takes into consideration the following things:

  • Cognitive testing (CoGAT)
  • NAPLAN results & other literacy and numeracy testing
  • Information from primary school teachers
  • Information from parents, such as external psychological assessments

We are continually building our network and maintaining connections with PEA Primary Schools. There is some correlation between primary school G&T programs and ADHS however, placement in a primary school gifted stream does not always correlate directly with a placement in the Unicorn program at ADHS.

You can find out more by reading our Open Night Presentation 2022

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 October 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 some of the following competitions. Details for competitions that are available are provided to students throughout the year as they arise.

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 teachers to find out more.


Jen Nott (GATLO, Executive Teacher Testing and Gifted and Talented Education)

Josh DeBruyn (NAPLAN and Testing Coordinator)


Gifted and Talented Education (with multiple parent fact sheets)

Creative Talents

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 if you have any questions.

Physical Talents

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 if you have any questions.

Leadership & Social Talents

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.