Jewells Primary School

Achieving today for tomorrow

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Why accept an opportunity class placement?

Why accept an opportunity class (OC) placement offer?

This is a very common question. "Why send my child to an OC class when my child's school have said that they have their own enrichment class/ A stream class?"

The simple answer is that an OC class draws from a large group of students, allowing for talented children to be brought together from many different schools. A local school enrichment class would find it difficult to have a full class of gifted students, so even though they are called enrichment classes, many of the students involved may not be gifted or talented.

When asking past students this question, they all agree that one of the best things about being in an OC class is that they get to work with other like-minded students. It is a joy to see the student who is obsessed with a particular subject, like Ancient Egypt or world history, meet someone the same age who is interested in the same, or a similar topic. Often the feeling of isolation that gifted children feel in a mainstream classroom is alleviated when they join an OC class as they finally have like-minded students to talk to. Socially, this often displaces feelings of being different or isolated.

The topics of work covered in an OC class are highly engaging as they allow for students to work at their own level, study topics that are interesting to them and complete tasks that are suited to their ability.

As the curriculum is compacted, students have the opportunity to accelerate their learning – completing Year 6, 7 and sometimes even Year 8 work while they are still in Year 5 and 6. There is also a strong focus on learning through problem solving.

Often there is a misconception that an OC class just provides more work. At Jewells OC, the work given to students is more challenging and complex, rather than just more work at the same level.

At Jewells OC, we focus on developing independent learning strategies, including students determining much of the direction of their own learning and being responsible for its completion. Time management is also focussed upon during the two year OC program. This develops important skills needed for high school.

Unlike structures that may operate in a mainstream classroom which must cater for a full range of ability levels and work speeds, where students have finished their work and are given ‘fast finishers' work, in the Jewells OC class as work is completed via contract, students are able to continue on with quality assignments rather than filling in valuable learning time with often repetitive work.

Curriculum and Educational Opportunities

The Hunter region has a very strong network of OC classes which regularly meet to provide opportunities for OC students. These gatherings allow students to interact socially with students who have similar interests and abilities as well as providing students the chance to compete in challenges and events against other OC classes.

OC schools in the Hunter gather twice a year for a Challenge Day of activities including building structures, maths relays, drama activities and trivia quizzes.

The big event in the Hunter OC calendar is Thinkfest – a competition involving building a structure, writing and performing a skit and a team trivia challenge. This event takes place in Term 4 and is a highlight of the OC year.

Students have opportunities throughout the year to be involved in competitions and challenges including ICAS competitions, the Newcastle Permanent Maths Competition, the internet based Murder Under the Microscope, and many more.

What do Past and Current Students and Parents Say?

I believe that for children who are academically gifted, the OC class is the best place to go. When I was in year 4, the work I did was far too easy for me. I was constantly waiting around as I was always the first one finished. Now, I have 29 other students who are similar to me and the work suits us all.  

The main thing that I have found is that you get to work with kids at your own level. You have harder work that challenges you. We have a lot of fun and we get to meet new kids that become good friends. We get to meet the other OC classes in activities such as Thinkfest and the foreshore days. 

I believe that in our class academic children are able to have more of a challenge with their work compared to being in a regular class. It opens up more opportunities as we are allowed freedom in our work. We are able to make lots of friends within the class because we are all equally smart. Alex Year 5.

It is good to be in an OC class because you have a lot of advantages both inside and outside the classroom. Children have the benefit of harder work. The work is not too hard, but at a level where you won't get bored. We have a really good teacher, who is really nice. In an OC class you make lots of new friends like yourself. 

I go on lots of excursions like to the foreshore and to Thinkfest. In the weeks leading up to Thinkfest, we write, practice and perfect plays and then travel to the host OC class's school to perform. In Jewells OC class, I made heaps of friends. 

The people in the OC class are cooperative and nobody is mean to you. Everyone in the class will always listen to what you have to say. In the OC class you have to be more organised. It is a great opportunity. Geordie Year 5.

Being in this class is a great experience and is always a heap of fun. Not only is it a great way to learn and succeed at school, but you make friends from all over the place and enjoy yourself every day. We have lots of fun units like Earn and Learn where we create a community in the classroom, and Thinkfest where you compete against other OC classes from around the Hunter. Children are encouraged to succeed and have more interesting work to do, whereas in a mainstream class children get bored with the work being done. OC is a great opportunity and a great way to be encouraged to do well at school. Jess Year 6.

I think that the OC class is a good learning opportunity for the academically gifted children because you have work that challenges you and you are learning new things every day. If you were in a normal class you would always be waiting for other kids to finish their work. In the OC class, you also get to appreciate how other people do things differently to you and that you aren't the only one out there who thinks differently.  Nina Year 5

Being in the OC class is great. Don't let thinking we do really hard work put you off coming here, because it's not! We do work that isn't extremely hard but nor is it easy. In the OC class you get to go on lots of cool excursions and do subjects like Create a Country, Thinkfest and Earn and Learn where you are being challenged, not tested.  Amber Year 5

Being in an OC class is the best opportunity if you want to work at a higher standard than normal classes and still have loads of fun!! I think that we are not all nerds, but just a class full of academic children having a lot of fun learning new things. I'm sure that you will find this class a great opportunity as well. Tully Year 5.

When I first came into the OC class, I didn't want to make any friends because I thought I wouldn't like anyone, but when I arrived here, I couldn't help making friends with the friendly people in the class. Everyone here is always happy and they have lots of things in common. The work is more difficult than normal work, so we don't always get 100%, but the work is fun and better than mainstream work. Justyn Year 5.

The OC class is a great opportunity for gifted students. We participate in lots of activities with the other OC classes and enjoy fun units that normal classes don't get to do. Together, we have lots of fun and understand each other. I have made great friends.  Mikala Year 5.