What is the background of the board members?
The majority of the Dara Village School Board have a professional background in Gifted Education as well as experience in teaching gifted students. Several members are furthering their professional qualifications by undertaking:
- The Graduate Certificate in Education (Gifted Education)
- Masters of Education (Gifted Education)
- A Doctorate in Education (Gifted Education).
Furthermore, most board members share a personal experience of giftedness and/or have gifted children, who in some cases also have a learning disorder.
What age groups does the school cater for?
Initially the school will cater for primary age children, with a specific focus on the students ability in years 1 to 7. The school will eventually cater to children from Kindergarten / Preschool to year 12, with 1 to 2 classes at each level ability.
What is the Enrolment policy?
Enrolment into the school is based on an assessment of giftedness using information collected from a variety of sources including the family, psychological reports, prior schooling (if applicable) and aptitude testing. A panel will meet and assess the application before final approval to enrol is granted. Please see enrolment process.
How are children grouped? Will there be acceleration?
Students are grouped according to ability and individual strengths. At this point in time the Dara Village Board is still reviewing various models of educational provision. The school is unlikely to closely follow the traditional, widely applied educational delivery structures.
Students are grouped based on stages of development, not just at each year level but also across subjects. Dara Village School is incorporating the model of vertical grouping, for example Years 1-4 in one classroom, with students grouped by ability and individual strengths.
Acceleration will be a core part of the education philosophy at the school.
What does the school environment look like? Is there any flexibility in class sizes?
Dara School class sizes are kept at around 20 students to provide a more individualized educational environment as well as one, which concurrently offers ample social development opportunities. Class sizes do vary to accommodate a range of individual needs.
Which curriculum is offered?
The Australian National Curriculum is the backbone for the design of the school’s teaching and learning programs and this guides the development of integrated units. Dara School learning is based on the interest map of individual students and will tailor learning opportunities towards this strategy. Dara School teachers meet once a week to discuss and plan curriculum with the students while keeping in mind their abilities and interests. Dara School has a partnership between students and teachers, with each student having a ‘mentor teacher’ who they can turn to when they want someone to talk to or to make suggestions about what they wish to learn.
How are teachers selected for employment at the school?
Teachers are employed based on their professional background in Gifted Education, their passion for teaching and their prior experience of teaching gifted students. Teachers are expected to have, or be working towards a qualification in Gifted Education at a Masters level. Prior to being employed at the school teachers are expected to provide evidence of direct experience working with gifted children.
The aim is also to employ suitable university students as “cadet” teachers, employed in a support role while they finish their study towards a teaching degree. The cadets will have an interest and the passion for teaching gifted students.
Teachers are expected to keep up date with their training throughout their employment at the school. The teachers also undertake Gifted Education based research and professional development to improve the quality of education for gifted students.
How did the name, Dara Village School, come to be?
The school’s name was chosen on a several counts. Firstly the Dara Village School Board wanted it to be seen as a community empowered school, where all parties work together to meet the needs of the students, in a ‘village’ like feel of openness and transparency. Additionally the word Dara provides many interesting meanings in various languages, pointing to the global and inclusive aspect of giftedness. Here are a few meanings of the word “Dara“: Compassion and Wisdom/Pearl of Wisdom in Hebrew; Star in Cambodian; Leader in Turkish and Punjabi; Wealthy and Prosperous in Persian; The Beautiful One in Swahili; Oak in Irish; Gift in Bulgarian and Macedonian.
Will students with high needs (disabilities) be catered for?
Many gifted students have quite different strengths in their different areas of development. Dara School recognizes this and caters for these high needs with a curriculum tailored to the individual strengths of the student and through individualized support in smaller groups.