Student Excellence Program

The SSPS Student Excellence Program includes a range of initiatives from the Department of Education that supports schools to provide a great learning environment and build teacher capability to support and extend their high ability students. This includes both the Victorian High Ability Program (VHAP) and the Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series.


The term high ability is used to indicate high potential and/or performance across the full suite of human abilities. High ability refers to students whose ability is more advanced that that of similar aged peers across one or more domains. These domains include:

  • Intellectual ability: usually manifests in a broad range of academic focused subjects, speed of learning and complex thinking patterns.
  • Physical ability: often presents in physical education or dance.
  • Creative ability: is likely to find expression in the arts.
  • Advanced social ability: will cut across a variety of subject areas. Often finds expression in leadership.

Victorian High-Ability Program

The Victorian High-Ability program (VHAP) provides opportunities for students in Years 5 to 8 to participate in 10-week online enrichment programs, in English and Mathematics. The virtual program, delivered by Virtual School Victoria, focuses on extending and developing students’ Mathematical and English abilities. The program focuses on tasks that stimulate students’ critical thinking, problem solving and creativity – enriching their understanding of English and Mathematics. The program will not focus on accelerating students through core Victorian Curriculum content.


In the VHAP English course, we explore links between reality and fiction by observing the world around us and our journeys into fictional worlds. VHAP English empowers students through cultivating confidence and a willingness to take academic risks. In the VHAP maths course, students embrace the “why” of maths, not just the “what”. Students and teachers dive into the philosophical implications of mathematical topics. The VHAP classroom provides students with the opportunity to:

  • Explore and express their ideas freely
  • Make their own decisions about their work
  • Be inspired and challenged by each other
  • Gain confidence in their choices and ability
  • Feel excited by their learning.

VHAP promotes development of key skills such as teamwork, collaboration, and resilience. The program is a safe space for high-ability students to stretch their wings, encounter change and challenge, and confront fears around making “mistakes.”


There are opportunities for differentiation within the course. Students can choose to work at a pace comfortable for them or be extended. Students will be pushed out of their learning comfort zone and parents and caregivers should be aware that many high-ability students may not be accustomed to this type of challenge. Students may need to be reassured that being challenged in this way is an important part of learning.


The Department is centrally managing the selection process for the program based on student academic performance. It uses a selection algorithm that is based on student achievement data to assess student ability and readiness to participate in the program. A combination of high NAPLAN scores and being one or more years ahead of their peers (based on teacher judgement data) indicates high ability.


Parents of students selected for the program will be provided with more information about the program by their school.


Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series

The Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series (VCES) is a series of high-quality, funded extension activities across all areas of the curriculum. High-ability students from Foundation (Prep) to Year 12 can participate in a VCES workshop. Schools can nominate students to participate in activities within the series according to their abilities and interests.


The Department is partnering with more than 22 expert education and not-for-profit organisations, universities, Tech Schools, teacher associations, and science and mathematics specialist centres to deliver activities within the series. Activities in VCES are either held in metropolitan Melbourne and regional areas or held remotely via Zoom or Webex. They are delivered during school hours, after school, on weekends and during school holidays. All activities:

  • are free for participating students
  • have a minimum duration of 90 minutes and are conducted in groups
  • are across one or more learning areas of the Victorian curriculum.

Schools select and register their students to participate in activities, as well as coordinate the required parental consent for these activities.


John Monash Science School – Primary School Outreach Program

At SSPS we have linked into the John Monash Science School ‘flagship’ outreach projects the ‘Little Scientists, Big Science’ program, and the ‘Mini Mathematicians’ program. Little Scientists, Big Science pairs our students with groups from other Primary Schools. They work through experiments and content ranging from biology to nanotechnology. Students are given the opportunity to present the findings of a research project at our Science Fair! Mini Mathematicians also pairs JMSS students with groups from other Primary Schools. They work on problem solving, finding treasure and hunting pirates, and magic tricks, all with a healthy dose of mathematics!


Further Information about our approach to supporting the learning and wellbeing of students at SSPS can be found in our Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy.

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