Frequently Asked Questions
What is GT Online?
The Selective Academic Program Online, known as GT Online, is a WA Department of Education program offered to students in Years 7 to 10 who are enrolled at public schools in regional and rural WA. GT Online is one of the Department’s academic programs for gifted and talented students; the other programs are situated at schools in the Perth metropolitan area and Bunbury, with a new program available in Albany from 2022.
How is GT Online different from regular school?
Supplementary programs, including GT Online, enable gifted students to interact with their peers at a higher academic level than can normally be provided in the regular classroom. The GT Online curriculum is ‘differentiated’ to cater for the needs of gifted students using three broad approaches: acceleration, extension and enrichment.
- Accelerating learning by compacting the curriculum to exempt knowledge and skills that students have already demonstrated and remove unnecessary repetition. This provides time to advance into content from a higher year level as well as for extension and enrichment activities.
- Accelerating learning by increasing the pace of learning, assisted by less repetition and small group sizes
- Extending the curriculum to deepen students’ understanding of concepts and topics studied.
- Enriching the curriculum to broaden learning experiences, sometimes beyond the curriculum and encourage expansion of knowledge and skills.
Who teaches the GT Online Program?
GT Online teachers are experienced in working with gifted and talented students. They work at schools delivering selective academic programs and are immersed in the culture of gifted and talented education.
The teachers have high expectations of students to complete all of the course requirements, including attendance at lessons and submission of work. They also expect students to participate actively in lessons and to complete work to the best of their ability. High expectations help the students to recognise the value of their learning and to take pride in the work they complete.
Many of the online teachers have taught in rural and remote areas and some attended rural schools for their own education. They are experienced subject specialist teachers and many have been teaching online for a number of years.
Who participates in GT Online?
To gain entry to the GT Online Program students must be successful in the selective entry tests administered by the Gifted and Talented Branch. The program is available for students from Year 7 to 10 in government schools in regional and remote Western Australia. In 2020, there are 77 students enrolled from 30 different locations across WA.
How long has the GT Online program been running?
An online gifted and talented program has been in existence since 1996. Since that year, a large number of country students have undertaken courses which have seen a number of changes and updates in their delivery method. Many past students have gone on to do great things including one student who studied the Year 8 and 9 courses when he was 10 /11 years of age, did his WACE when he was 13 and went to University at 14! He has since completed a double major in Engineering and Science at UWA. A number of students win awards in competitions during their time in the program as well as Curriculum Council awards at the end of Year 12.
When do students attend classes?
Students commit four periods (3 -4 hours per week) of school time to each subject. This allows for two periods online class time and two periods for independent work. Students do not attend the mainstream classes in the subject area they are studying in GT Online and every attempt is made to schedule their WebEx lessons to match up with their school timetable.
GT Online classes are timetabled with the principle of minimal interruption to regular school classes. This is achieved in a number of ways:
- Multiple ‘streams’ of lessons are offered to allow for different school timetables.
- Final timetable fits are worked out by analysing all school timetables together.
The final timetables are not always a perfect fit and students may miss part of a school class or a recess/lunch during the week. However, the disruption is minimal. Parents and students value what the program offers and are willing to compromise in this regard. Students are expected to attend the full length of their lessons even if there is an overlap with break times.
What happens in an online learning class?
Students work in intensive, small group tutorials with their teacher for two periods per week in real time using WebEx video conferencing. This platform allows students to communicate with their teacher using voice and video and to work together using a shared visual working space.
For a further two periods per week, students work independently during school time on learning activities and research tasks in the school library or online room. A secure online learning system called Moodle, provides students with their course program and learning resources, plus allows for communication with their teacher, online tests and other tools.
In addition, 1 to 3 hours of homework will be required for each subject per week. At the same time, teachers recognise that students have many other commitments to balance, both at school and outside. They therefore recognise where due effort has been made and do not expect students to work beyond what is reasonable.
What courses are available to study?
Programs of study are offered in Mathematics, Science, Humanities & Social Sciences and English. Students usually enter either the Mathematics and Science stream or the Humanities stream (Humanities & Society Sciences and English), some students may be offered to do both streams.
For Year 7 students who have received an offer to study both streams (4 subjects), there are circumstances outlined below where it may be best to consider starting with one stream in Semester 1, then review.
- Students starting at a new school campus without an existing social network can sometimes experience a feeling of isolation from their peers and feel they miss opportunities to establish new friendships.
- Students who have very poor time management and organisational skills, can find it overwhelming to undertake the independent learning requirements of studying both streams of study (all 4 subjects).
What are the class sizes?
Class sizes do vary, with generally a maximum of 10 students.
Where do online lessons take place?
The School Coordinator will organise a suitable location within the home school where students can work on a school-networked computer. Some schools have an online learning room, used by a number of students, including students studying with the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) as well as GT Online. In the event you are not at school for a day, students can attend WebEx lessons from home on a computer with Internet access, or access a recording of the lesson if unable to attend.
How do the students do science experiments?
Science inquiry skills are developed in several ways including using web cams during Webex lessons, online lab simulations using Explore Elearning Gizmos and during the residential program (camp). There may also be opportunities for students to participate in practical investigations within their host school.
Where do I get help at my home school?
Each school has a member of staff allocated the role of Gifted and Talented Online Coordinator. This is the person to go to if you have questions or problems, for example, timetable issues, a problem with your computer or need to scan or post something to your online teacher. Please contact the GT Online Program Coordinator if you do not know the name of your School Coordinator.
For specific learning area problems check Moodle, as this is where the program and tasks are located. GT Online teachers can be messaged via Moodle, though it may take time to get a response. Sometimes the teachers at your home school are willing to provide guidance, if an agreeable time to meet can be organised.
If there are other GT Online students at your school, ask them for advice. It can be very helpful when older GT Online students act as a mentor when students first begin online learning.
How will learning outcomes be assessed?
GT Online is a task-based course. The course covers the core skills and understanding critical to each discipline and will extend students’ higher order thinking. Learning is focused on the achievement of particular objectives or goals often through problem-solving and critical and creative thinking. Tasks often involve the creation of a ‘product’ which achieves the goal of the task and demonstrates the learning. For each task you will receive an outline of what is to be assessed. A mark will be given for each task.
The GT Online teacher will monitor and assess student progress and report on student achievement. Letters of Commendation and Letters of Concern will be issued to celebrate student progress or indicate areas of underperformance. GT Online interim and semester reports are written by the GT Online teacher and emailed to parents and the home school.
How are tests conducted?
Some testing is conducted online and some by pen and paper. Online testing is usually conducted during a lesson, on secure platforms where teachers can monitor student online access. Supervision of pen and paper tests is organised by the home school GT Online Coordinator.
How will studying GT Online impact on other school based subjects?
GT Online classes are timetabled with the principle of minimal interruption to regular school classes. The primary concern is that GT Online lessons do not clash with any of the core subject lessons (Maths, Science, HASS and English), however at times students may be required to leave a class early or arrive late. For the subjects studied in the GT Online Program, students will not be timetabled into mainstream classes. It is very important to work with the GT Online Coordinator at the home-school to inform teachers of any variation to the regular timetable, and to support students to manage what can be a complex timetable. If students miss part of a mainstream class, it will be their responsibility to catch up on what was missed.
If we move to the city at a later date would our child be able to enrol in a GATE program?
A condition of entry into another GATE program is that the Total Standard Score must meet the minimum entrance score for eligibility into the program. Note that the entrance requirements do vary between schools.
Is a student able to withdraw from the GT Online program?
The decision to withdraw from the GT Online program should be made in agreement with the parents, GT Online Coordinator and the home school. Students have up to one month to change their mind and are not permitted to opt in and out of the program. Suitable timing of the withdrawal is to be agreed upon by the home school and the GT Online Program Coordinator. If a student withdraws from the program and then wishes to return at a later date, they would need to write a formal request to the Gifted and Talented Selection Unit.
What are the costs involved?
Two residential camps are run each year in the Perth metropolitan area. These camps are part of the academic program, and though not compulsory, are highly recommended. The cost of the camp is subsidised, but a payment of ~$300 per camp is required. Travel to and from Perth is at your own expense, however a small travel subsidy is available for flight and train travel for distances over 500km.
When do the camps run?
An end of year camp is planned for 23 – 27 November 2020 at Point Peron Campsite in Rockingham. All Year 6 students who are enrolled in GT Online 2021 will be invited to attend, along with the current Year 7 – 10 students. It is very beneficial for the prospective students to attend to establish connections with their peers and teachers, as well as be introduced to the technology platforms used in the program. Another camp will run mid Term 2 2021.
Will a computer and headphones be provided?
A school networked computer is made available by the home school and a headset with two ear pieces and a microphone is supplied by GT Online.
Will I be required to purchase textbooks?
Text books and study materials are loaned to all students and graphics calculators are loaned to Maths students in Year 10. Students are expected to look after these loans and report losses to their teachers immediately. If resources are not returned, parents will need to pay a replacement fee.
Are students able to communicate with other students in the online program?
WebEx lessons allow for students to speak with each other and interact on screen under the direction of the teacher. The Moodle platform provides forums where students can discuss ideas, monitored by the teacher. An important role of the residential camps is to foster positive relationships between students. Very often friendships quickly form and a sense of relief and happiness in finding a group of like-minded peers is experienced. At camp, some students may choose to share their contact details to allow for interaction outside of the educational context.
Are there opportunities for parent involvement?
On commencement of the GT Online Program, students will require parental support to organise and manage their time. It is important to reassure students that a transitional period of up to 6 months is required to develop an understanding of the personal, social and academic skills required for success in a gifted and talented online program.
Parents are encouraged to access the Moodle learning platform with their child, to discuss the learning area programs and how the platform works.
An online Parent Information Session will be offered to parents, with the opportunity to ask questions.
On occasions, parental help is requested for the residential camps in Perth.
Are the online platforms used safe?
Webex is a web conferencing tool supported and licenced by the Department of Education. Webex relies on the use of Department of Education log in details for access. Both Webex Training and Webex Meeting formats are used.
The Moodle Learning Management System is designed to be very secure. Students are enrolled in the platform and provided with a username and password required for login to give them student access to the courses in which they are enrolled. The site is hosted by a reputable webserver, and the package is regularly updated by the Moodle Administrator.
How do I find out about how my child is performing in the program?
A number of reports will be completed by teachers throughout the year and these will be sent to schools and parents.
- Interim/Progress Reports – will be issued towards the end of term one to indicate how a student has settled into the program
- Semester One report –will be issued at the end of term two. This report will be similar to the report received for the subjects studied at the home school and will indicate a grade of achievement for each subject.
- Formal parent interviews by telephone, when requested, after semester reports are received.
- Final report – indicating grades of achievement will be issued at the end of the year.
- Certificates – will be awarded for excellence, achievement and endeavour at the end of each semester.
- Informal interviews and communications may be held at any time during the year.
Are parents able to communicate with their child’s teachers?
There is a full-time Program Coordinator who is contactable via phone or email to discuss any queries or concerns. For specific subject area matters, all teachers are contactable via email and a phone call can be scheduled if required.
What are the advantages of participating in the GT Online Program?
A key advantage of the GT Online Program is that students can undertake an academic talent program with other similarly talented students, while living at home and attending their local school, instead of having to move to Perth at a young age. The ability to manage time and to work independently are key skills developed in the GT Online Program. Students completing the program in Year 10 often remark that they feel ready for senior school and university because they have learned these skills. Teachers and School Coordinators help students to learn these skills, providing a clear structure to each course and employing organisational tools.
Students deserve to be proud of having won a place in a Gifted and Talented program. Participating in the GT Online Program is a rewarding and educationally challenging opportunity that that sets high standards and promotes the successful attainment of learning outcomes, preparing students for Years 11 and 12 and beyond.
What are the most common problems encountered by GT Online students?
It is a steep learning curve for students to start secondary school and take on a new mode of online learning. Managing the timetable and maintaining a level of organisation takes effort and usually requires support from parents and School Coordinators. A document summarising ten key steps on How to be a Successful Online Learner has been produced to help guide students towards good habits.
Some students starting at a new school campus without an existing social network have expressed a feeling of isolation from their peers and that they miss opportunities to establish new friendships. If this is the case, it can be worth considering the option of beginning with 1 stream of study and once established, pick up the second stream of subjects midyear or the following year.
Students who have very poor time management and organisational skills, can find it overwhelming to undertake the independent learning requirements of studying both streams of study (all 4 subjects). If this is the case, it can be worth considering the option of beginning with 1 stream of study and once established, pick up the second stream of subjects mid-year or the following year.
My daughter has been in the GT Online program for 3 years. Living remotely, we are so thankful that this program has been available to her. It has enabled her to connect with like minded students who are dedicated and want to learn. She has learnt to communicate with the other students and her teachers online which will prepare her for future online learning. The friendships and connections that she has made all over WA has certainly made her feel less isolated. Attending the GT Online Camp in Perth twice a year is the highlight of her year!
Our daughter has been involved in the GT Online programme for Years 7, 8 & 9. She has benefitted so much from academic extension in the Humanities. She loves her online sessions and looks forward to the camp every semester. We are really thankful that bright country kids can have these opportunities.
My four children participated in the GT on line program with the youngest two still currently enrolled in the program in year 8 and year 10. My eldest began the program in year 8 in 2012 and my second son began, also in year 8, in 2014. I have found the program to be well organised, with great leadership and dedicated teachers and an education program that suits my children’s needs without them having to move away from home to attend Perth Modern. The camps are a highlight that they look forward to, an opportunity to meet up with their teachers face to face and mingle with their likeminded peers form around the state.
They are given the opportunity to enter and compete in numerous competitions in various learning areas. Both my sons entered and were successful in being selected to attend the Premiers ANZAC student tour, which was an amazing opportunity for them. Transitioning to year 11 and 12 in the classroom at ASHS after they finished with the GT on line program came smoothly and both boys went on to become academic Dux of year 12 at ASHS. They are both now currently studying at the Australian National University with my eldest being successful in gaining the prestigious Tuckwell Scholarship when he began his studies in 2017. I have no doubt that studying with the GT online program in years 8 – 10 has significantly impacted on their success, aiding them to be highly self motivated learners. They were provided with learning opportunities that were at their level and learnt to responsible for their own learning.
I just wanted to say it is being a great experience for Matilda doing GT online we are so impressed with how well the program is delivered & run. You guys are doing an awesome job. Thanks for being so well organised and we look forward to next semester.