Sherrol Gane

Date of Submission



This thesis explores the experiences academically gifted students and their families are having within a Catholic education system of schools and the impact that these experiences are having on the choice of future schooling. Parents are making the decision to commence their academically gifted child at a Catholic school and throughout the child’s schooling, choices are being considered as to whether to continue with Catholic schooling or seek an alternative. This Australian study investigates the interconnection between gifted education, school systems, school practices, families, and student experiences when deliberating the choice of school. The literature review considers the place of gifted education in the wider field of school education and sets a context for considering the educational learning experiences of the academically gifted students in this study. The review considers: characteristics of academically gifted students, theories of human development, beliefs about giftedness and gifted education, Catholic school ethos, school leadership, pedagogical practices, and school choice. Case study data from 14 primary and secondary school students, including 55 interviews, surveys and extensive document investigation, are presented and analysed. Based on Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (2008) two major themes are guiding this analysis: intrapersonal factors and environmental factors. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory (1977) is used in bringing the findings together.

Key strengths of the Catholic schooling system in supporting academically gifted students are detailed. These strengths are: the obvious Catholic identity and ethos of the schools; the pastoral and nurturing care exhibited; and, the Newman Gifted Program for students of high ability generally in the top 15% of the population. Directions for future development are suggested. These directions are: ongoing professional learning for school leaders and classroom teachers around academic giftedness and gifted education; system resource support; and, making a clear distinction between the provision for students who are the top 15% of the population and students who are in or close to the top 1% of the population, based on a psychometric test. This research contributes to the literature about school choice, specifically for academically gifted students. The research also answers questions of why some academically gifted students are choosing to stay with the Catholic education system, and others are choosing to leave.


School of Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


341 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Faculty of Education and Arts

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.