Encouraging excellence in learning

At CBC Fremantle, academic excellence means more than just gaining good grades. Intrinsically linked to personal excellence, the ultimate outcome for every student at the College is the maximum development of his intellectual capacities and skills in service to humanity.

While every student is encouraged to reach their potential, as an added incentive for high achievers CBC's Academic Excellence Programme (AEP) aims to celebrate the achievements of the College's talented boys. In doing so, the programme challenges every student at CBC Fremantle to strive for personal excellence and achieve academic growth.

Educational psychologist Professor Françoys Gagné differentiates between natural abilities and talents, and says that it is application and perseverance that converts a natural ability into a talent. Gagne states that we all possess natural abilities in one way or another, and it takes an event, or a 'catalyst', to inspire a desire to explore that ability. When students are fully engaged in the learning process, real achievement takes place, and their chance to excel at what they do increases. With that focus and hard work, the natural ability, or gift as Gagne calls it, can flourish into a talent. The catalyst is the inspiration for the motivation, and to do one's best and never settle for mediocrity can result in true excellence.

AEP seeks to provide that catalyst. With diverse and interesting activities, and by harnessing practitioners enthusiastic for their particular field, CBC's Academic Excellence Programme exposes students to the joy of achievement in an academic environment. Through incursions, excursions and guest speakers, students have been able to witness first-hand achievements of people in diverse fields of enterprise including the media; mining; mechanical, civil and chemical engineering; architecture and art.

The typical AEP student

To achieve academic excellence requires hard work and dedication, and students and teachers commit to many hours of intense work to achieve these levels. Students who are interested in the AEP activities are focussed and motivated to achieve their potential.

The dilemma for the team of AEP teachers was to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of academically gifted students while supporting the quest for excellence with all students and honouring the College's inclusive values. The solution was to adopt a model where two types of students are involved in the AEP. The first group are students who have flagged at least three times in the five core subjects within the standardised top 15% of their cohort. In addition, students who display a talent or gift towards a certain subject may also join in the activities, with their ongoing association depending on their academic results.

AEP in action

The AEP aims to increase students' high level critical thinking and problem solving skills through collaborative teamwork based on clearly defined research procedures within nationally and internationally recognised programmes. Furthermore, creativity and communication are key aspects which are explored and enhanced.

Students of Robotics not only design and make their own robots, they also programme the software so their robots can carry out particular tasks. This holistic creative and design process culminates in the inter-school RoboCup presented by Scitech.

Talented AEP Debating students who have the potential to be future politicians, attorneys and leaders in many fields, are coached to prepare compelling and convincing arguments on a range of issues. Novice, junior and senior teams regularly compete in the Western Australian Debating League (WADL) and Australian Heads of Independent Schools Association (AHISA) competitions. Senior debaters have the added challenge to prepare and deliver impromptu debates requiring a high level of logical thinking and communication skills.

Gifted students in the AEP also participate in special activities designed to expose them to what it means to achieve excellence in a particular field. This year the Literature & Media students were thrilled to spend a day behind the scenes at The West Australian and Channel Ten. Maths & Engineering students have had the opportunity to meet engineers, architects and a sculptor who relies on maths for the creative design and building process.