What is the background of the board members?
The makeup of the current Dara School Board is balanced between parent representatives, professional representatives and Dara teaching staff.
All members of the Board are ardent supporters of Gifted Education and have an understanding of the unique educational environment required to support gifted students in reaching their potential.
Furthermore, most board members share a personal experience of giftedness and/or have gifted children.
What age groups does the school cater for?
Currently the school caters 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, psychometric assessments, prior schooling (if applicable) and aptitude testing. A panel will meet and assess the application before final approval to enrol is granted.
How are children grouped? Will there be acceleration?
Students are grouped according to prior knowledge of a topic, individual abilities and strengths. The school does not follow the traditional, widely applied educational delivery structures. Students are grouped based on their stages of development, not just at each year level but also across subjects. Dara Village School incorporates a model of vertical grouping, for example Years 1-4 in one classroom, with students grouped by ability and individual strengths.
Acceleration is a core part of the education philosophy at the school. Dara students work at their own level in every subject, no matter what level this may be. For example, a 10 year old student, nominally in Year 5, may be working at Year 9 level in a subject.
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; this environment 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.
Dara also aims to employ suitable university students as “cadet” teachers, working in a support role while they finish their study towards a teaching degree. The cadets will have an interest and passion for teaching gifted students.
Teachers are expected to continuously update their professional learning throughout their employment at the school. They also undertake Gifted Education based research and professional development to improve the quality of education for gifted students.
How did the name, Dara School, come to be?
The school’s name was chosen on a several counts. 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.
Additionally, the Dara 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 atmosphere of openness and transparency.
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.