What is the IGNITE Program?

Santa Maria College is heavily invested in ensuring that students of all abilities are challenged. We would like them to explore new ideas and learning experiences in a supported, fun environment. The program we have developed for our gifted and talented students is called IGNITE. It caters for exceptional students in Years 5 to 8.

How is the program structured?

In Years 5, 6 and 7 IGNITE is a ‘pull-out program’ which means that once a week they attend before school, during Homeroom and through Period 1. They miss one core class. In Year 8, invited students are given the chance to choose IGNITE as an elective.

What is the aim of IGNITE?

The aim of the program is to really challenge students and take them out of their comfort zones. We want to stretch their thinking and allow them to collaborate with intellectually strong peers. Dr Chrissie Fossey says, “Their brains should really hurt when they come out of IGNITE. They should be really challenged.”

Students don’t do any kind of assessment in the program and are not given grades. This removes the ceiling on learning. Girls can push themselves as hard and as far as they would like.

How are girls selected for the IGNITE program?

The parents of Year 5 and Year 7 students who are interested in IGNITE are asked to fill in a questionnaire at the beginning of the year. The questionnaire looks at the traits of gifted students. We also look at NAPLAN performance, class results, and our own in-house testing.

The questionnaire is lengthy but important. We are not necessarily looking for straight-A students. The questionnaire helps us find those students who are exceptional but not necessarily driven by grades.

What activities are offered in the IGNITE program?

IGNITE activities vary from year to year and there is a different focus each term. Sometimes the projects are STEM-based, and sometimes they are arts-based and highly creative. This year, students studied:

  • Robotics
  • Scratch programming
  • Silent movies
  • Sustainability
  • Mathemagicians

We try to do really varied topics that students probably haven’t been exposed to at all previously.

What are the goals for the program this year?

The goal is always to stretch our students and really foster a love of learning; not learning for the sake of a grade but because they really enjoy that challenge. Students are able to work at their own pace and push their own boundaries. This means, each student has a different endpoint for the program.

For more detailed information about the program, you can read and download the IGNITE information booklet here.

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