At Penrhos College we believe that it is our responsibility to provide every girl with the opportunities that she needs in order for her to reach her academic potential.

Our Gifted Education program aims to:

  • Optimise opportunities for gifted students to engage in rich, rigorous learning that will challenge and extend them.
  • Enhance self-esteem and sense of accomplishment among gifted students.
  • Ensure that students with high potential are appropriately provided for so they are not at risk of underachievement.

Research informs us that gifted students may require different ways of learning in order for them to reach their potential. That is, they need to be catered for differently.

We are committed to providing a personalised learning program for our gifted learners which may mean going outside of the curriculum. We offer a targeted education program for gifted students which includes; curriculum compaction, alternative assessment tasks, real-world problem solving and integrated projects.

In addition to opportunities afforded within the subjects, a Critical and Creative Thinking elective is available.

In 2017 we will be embarking on an exciting new program with our Year 8 students called Elevate. Please see additional information below.

We aim to ensure gifted students feel valued in a learning environment which both challenges and supports them to pursue excellence, develop a passion for lifelong learning and to feel inspired to become an extraordinary woman.


After a rigorous application process, Penrhos was selected as one of only fifteen schools to participate in the ELEVATE Community of Practice. Led by the Association of Independent Schools in New South Wales in conjunction with the United Kingdom Innovations Unit, the program benefits from the expertise of renowned international educational experts. Elevate is an exploratory program for teachers of high potential learners which is evidence based. Its aim is to provide new possibilities to help students to thrive now, and also in their future careers in a changing global economy.

The Elevate project focusses on content and skill development, as well as developing mindsets for lifelong learning.  Specialist teachers profile students in their classes to better understand their needs and personalise offerings. Innovative classroom practices, based on the seven overarching principles outlined in the OECD CERI research; The Nature of Learning, are used to increase the rigour involved in the learning process.  Our focus on the whole person paradigm of mind, heart, body and spirit underpins our practices.


Figure 1: Seven Overarching Principles, from The Nature of Learning, OECD (2010)

The student learning program involves a combination of;

  • acceleration of the pace of learning,
  • expanding the learning beyond what is required and/
  • deepening the learning to allow 21st century skill development in areas of personal passion

Thus generating new and challenging opportunities for each girl to achieve her personal best.

Academic Extension

a. Mathematics Extension

The Maths Mentor Program is designed for very able students in Mathematics. Over 60 students follow a rigorous course designed by the Australian Mathematics Trust (based at the Australian National University in Canberra). This course broadens the experiences of students, provides opportunities to think about mathematical concepts and theories that enhances their critical and creative skills. The course increases their knowledge and gives them mathematical tools to enable them to solve problems. The focus of the course is not only on the ‘how’ but also on the ‘why’.

Maths Mentors encourage students to become more involved in mathematical activities offered outside the College. There are weekly after school classes taken by the Maths Mentors. The Maths Mentors include teachers, university lecturers and top university students.

Students have many opportunities to take part in many competitions, both local and international. Penrhos College was the only Perth school to attend the 2014 Singapore International Mathematics Challenge. There is a Visiting Mathematician Program where a top mathematician is invited to work with both students and staff over a number of weeks. Some students are able to participate in the prestigious Penrhos Profs @ Perkins Program.

The program is an exciting partnership between Penrhos College and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

Maths Night @ Penrhos celebrates the work and achievements of the Maths Mentor students throughout the year. Guest speakers inspire the girls with stories of how they have developed their passion and interest in mathematics into a career. Maths Mentor students are excited and proud to be part of the program.

b. Humanities and Social Sciences Extension

The Humanities High Flyers Global Citizens Program began in 2012 with the intention of providing curriculum differentiation for Year 8 students who have demonstrated academic success or exceptional enthusiasm in their studies of Society and Environment. Since 2015, the program has also been offered to high flying Year 9 students.

The topic of the Humanities High Flyers Program is modified to suit the specific needs of each class. Some recent topics have included; freedom of speech; freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and global conflict. After being presented with general information on people, events and issues surrounding the topic students then engage in numerous research activities and higher-order thinking tasks. Students then select a specific aspect of the topic that is of interest to them which they then conduct an investigation into and produce a project. The Program concludes with the presentation of student projects at the Global Citizens’ Evening. The Global Citizens’ Evening seeks to promote global citizenship – an integral aspect of twenty-first century education. The Humanities High Flyers program aims to cater for the specific learning needs of students whilst promoting global citizenship through critical and creative thinking about the world around them. The program runs in conjunction with a compacted Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum.

The driving aim behind this program is to encourage students to become active citizens by promoting awareness and stimulating action on an issue that they are passionate about. It aims to inspire and develop a rigorous academic mindset as well as social responsibility.

In addition, students of various Years can participate in extra-curricular activities including Australian History Competition, Simpson Prize, Premier’s Award, Essi Money, the ASX Sharemarket Game, National Geography Competition, UN Youth Voice, Evatt Trophy Competition, and the Law Society Mock Trial Competition, to name a few.

c. Science Extension

Science students have a variety of avenues for pursuing enrichment activities. Some of these extension opportunities are worked into the Penrhos curriculum, enabling all students to take the opportunity to work creatively beyond the national curriculum. Science Fair in Year 7 and a STEM project in Year 8 are two examples in our lower school programs. In year 10 students complete their core units in biology, chemistry and physics and then select two extension units to provide the opportunity to engage in deeper learning in their specific areas of interest. The College also provides active support for individual students in Year 11 to participate at a national level in prestigious events such as the Student ANZAAS Congress and the National Youth Science Forum. In 2015 Year 12 chemistry students received gold medals in the Australian National Titration Competition. In 2013, Penrhos student Brooke Krajancich was the only Australian girl to be selected for the exclusive International Science Summer School program in Heidelberg. Locally, students attend engineering days at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia on an informal basis. Year 11 and 12 students are invited to apply for places in the aforementioned Penrhos Profs @ Perkins Program. The Program is the result of an exciting new partnership between Penrhos College and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (see Maths Mentor section above). Year 11 and 12 students were also able to connect with our STEM researcher in residence. for 2015, Dr Ellen Fortini. During this program students learnt how to perform electrophoresis and understand its applications. Also in 2015 some our gifted science students were given the opportunity to participate in the US Space Camp Tour where students complete an intensity program on space exploration and astronaut training.

d. English Extension

A vibrant and exciting area of study, English at Penrhos strongly aligned with the West Australian Curriculum and exposes our students to a vast range of contemporary and traditional texts, experiences and ways of seeing the world. We believe that English is a ‘living’ subject; it gives us the skills to navigate the complex and media-saturated world that we inhabit. It gives us the skills to participate in on-line environments, wise to the nature off this world and our responsibilities as global citizens.

From Othello and Frankenstein to Blueback and Bran Nue Dae, The Weekend Australian or Blog of the Year, each class teacher selects from challenging texts and topics for discussion that extend and inspire our students. Writing competitions abound and our students regularly achieve excellence in the City of South Perth Writing Competition. Aspirants in Year 7, 8 and 9 can apply to visit the Fremantle Literature Centre to participate in the Young Writers’ programme and attend workshops with four prominent Australian writers over the course of a year. By fostering these skills, our students gain great confidence in their creative writing abilities.

In Years 7 – 10, our relationship with the Library broadens our outlook in a variety of ways. Visiting authors bring an authenticity to the study of our novels and picture books; Julia Lawrinson and A.J Betts are local writers who visit regularly. Each English class attends the Library on a fortnightly basis to borrow from the rich collection or to participate in co-ordinated activities linked with Teaching and Learning Program, for example the study of specific genres or literary eras.

Our Senior School students enjoy personalised tuition and collaborative relationships with their teachers. They are advantaged by regular support beyond the classroom in English or Literature that help them to assimilate the challenging nature of the ATAR pathway. The After School Seminars (ASS) in Year 12 and the Crash Course in Year 11, focus specifically upon the skills required for examination success and are held in the Collaboration Room of the Library. A range of our students find attendance is essential, depending upon their personal goals. The tailored seminars help them to improve their results in a way that complements classroom activity. Attendance at the Curtin Conference also enhances our Year 12’s efforts to prepare for their final examinations, held annually at Curtin University. The Literature Culture Club attends two theatre visits annually to fully appreciate performance aspects of drama. We believe that our students leave Penrhos well-equipped as young adults to critically appreciate the wider world, confidently and skilfully representing themselves in their communication with others and achieving at their best.

Critical and Creative Thinking Elective

Academically gifted students have the opportunity to take part in the Year 8, 9 and 10 elective, Critical and Creative Thinking. Girls receive an invitation to participate if they are identified as a learner who is exhibiting high academic ability.

Designed specifically to cater for academically gifted students, the program aims to promote academic rigour and intellectual challenge, whilst nurturing girls’ individual talents. This elective aims to develop skills, strategies and processes which can be applied across subject areas. Girls have the opportunity to explore an area of passion and participate in academic competitions.

This elective allows girls to work with other students of similar ability, and encourages them to take risks and challenge themselves in a supportive environment. Research indicates that intellectually able students benefit from working with students of similar ability to:

  • Stimulate and stretch their intellectual abilities
  • Ensure they have a realistic view of their capacity
  • Focus on higher order thinking when attempting challenging work
  • Prevent underachievement which can occur in mixed ability classrooms when students moderate their behaviour to conform with others

Academic Competitions, Events & Co-Curricular Opportunities

We have a rich co-curricular program and depending on your daughter’s interest, there are a plethora of activities for her to be involved in.

a. Future Problem Solving

Penrhos College is a leader in the Australian Future Problem Solving Program. We regularly have teams and individuals represent at Australia at the FPS International Conference and have achieved great success.  To learn the latest about FPS at Penrhos, please click here.

Future Problem Solving (FPS) is a program that focuses on the development of creative thinking skills. In particular, it centres on the skills of problem identification and positive solutions to those problems. Above all, it aims to give students the skills to design and promote positive futures for the society in which we live. The FPS program at Penrhos is for students in Years 10 to 12. There is an interschool competition component and school teams have the opportunity to succeed at the state, national as well as international level.

b. First Lego League

First Lego League teams research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy etc. and are challenged to develop a solution. They also must design, build and program a robot then compete on a tabletop playing field. Students learn to apply Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) concepts whilst using their critical and creative thinking skills to solve a problem. Along their discovery journey, students develop team building and communication skills as they must present their solutions creatively to a panel of experts.

c. Da Vinci Decathlon

The Western Australian da Vinci Decathlon is for students from Years 5 to 10 and is a celebration of their academic gifts. This ‘decathlon with a difference’ is an academic interschool gala day run in the spirit of an Olympic Decathlon. Each team is made up of eight students combining their collective talents to work as an effective team in the varied disciplines.

d. Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad

OzCLO, which has been running since 2008, is organised by academics at major universities around Australia. OzCLO introduces students to language puzzles from which they can learn about the richness, diversity and systematic nature of language, while exercising natural logic and reasoning skills. No prior knowledge of other languages, linguistics or computer programming is necessary. The focus in OzCLO is on logical thinking as it relates to discovering how languages work. The competition is designed for students from Years 9 to 12, and past experience shows that there is appeal across humanities and science interests.

e. Philosophy Club

Philosophy Club is a great opportunity for girls interested in social issues, literature and ‘the big questions’. Philosophy is thinking deeply and logically about the world and human existence. Each week the Club discuss a particular philosophical issue, ranging from aliens to assassination, charity to communism, truth, existence and everything in between. Philosophy Club is a casual setting, where students can discuss their opinions in an open and friendly environment. Each week students are introduced to topics, provided with reading materials and participate in a guided discussion. Events during the year include meetings with other schools, and in October, the interschool competition, known as the Philosothon.

f. Debating

Debating is an exciting and challenging co-curricular activity that helps develop students’ public speaking ability, confidence, note-taking skills and teamwork skills. The debating team meets for coaching once a week and competes against other schools once a month. Students are given a topic at their coaching session, and then have one or two weeks to prepare a speech. Debating also has an ‘on-the-spot’ aspect, as the opposition may make a rebuttal, which encourages girls to think on their feet. In the excitement of the debate, girls discuss with their team mates, write notes, listen intently and present their speeches. An adjudicator presides over the debate and makes the final decision on who wins.

g. Mock Trials

The Mock Trial Competition is open to Year 11 and 12 Politics and Law students. It is a competition where teams are provided with legal cases which are argued between participating schools, with one side acting for the prosecution/plaintiff and the other for the defence. The uniqueness of mock trials lies in the combination of facts, legal principles and procedures, along with subtle theatrics. Cases are prepared beforehand and then presented in a two and a half hour trial held in the Supreme Court. The top two WA teams meet in the grand final in the Supreme Court before the Chief Justice, held in October each year.

h. Chess Club

Chess Club is for all students from Years 5 to 12. Chess is fun, challenging and an opportunity to meet new friends. Research shows there is a strong link between learning to play chess and academic achievement. Chess helps students develop thinking and strategy skills, as well as the ability to foresee consequences. Being a member of the Chess Club gives girls the opportunity to be coached weekly, to play the game using taught skills and to be part of the Penrhos College team. There are a number of interschool tournaments culminating in state and national championships.