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Development Day Monday July 2017

The school was delighted to welcomed back Dr Ben North, class of 2001 to Development Day this term. Ben studied English and History at Sydney University, and has a doctorate in gifted and talented education. His presentation was on assessing for differentiation for gifted learners. He is currently seconded to work with the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation in the Department of Education, and is a Principal Research Officer. Ben’s doctoral thesis was in Educational Psychology from UNSW and was titled: ‘Under pressure: a Comparison of gifted and average-ability senior secondary student responses to academic pressure in high-stakes assessment contexts’. He mentioned to us how strange it felt returning to his old school and teaching both his ex teachers and young newly appointed teachers to Tech whom he had taught himself in his schools, Oatley Senior campus and Engadine High School.

Ben reminded us that we must take care to find out where our gifted students are in terms of their interests and understanding of the curriculum. About 60% of selective students have mastery over aspects of the curriculum when they come into year 7, and it is our job to acknowledge this, and to avoid repetition and lack of engagement. By pretesting students and gaining insights into their skill levels and interests, we can then differentiate the curriculum to better meet their needs. This is particularly important at Tech where we have students from as many as 80 different Primary schools. By making learning explicit and visible, and asking students to reflect on their own learning when they have completed units of work, we can take the guess work out of teaching and learning.

Ben is currently working on the new Gifted and Talented education policy for the Department which was in the news on Friday July 21st when Mark Scott, Secretary of the Department presented his take on gifted and talented education to the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children Biennial Conference at the UNSW . A copy of his speech can be found  at



Secretary Scott mentioned the work of gifted and talented educator Dr Jae Jung who I am very pleased to say will be presenting to us at our joint P&C meeting with St George on Tuesday 1 August 2017 in the school auditorium. Dr Jung’s area of expertise is decision making in adolescents.


Download this file (STHS SDD T3 2017 Dr B North Slides.pdf)ASSESSING FOR DIFFERENTIATION[Dr Ben North Principal Research Officer New South Wales Department of Education ben.north@det.nsw.edu.au / @drbennorth ASSESSING FOR DIFFERENTIATION:  Informing teaching and learning through  formative assessment]6444 kB

"Every individual has the right to realise himself: that is to fully develop the power and capacities, physical, mental, moral and spiritual; with which nature endowed him."

 − JA Williams, 1912 (first Principal of Sydney Technical High School)