Accelerated Learning Program

Mercedes College offers young women in Years 7 to 12 an outstanding Catholic education in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy.  It has the distinction of being the oldest girls’ school in Australia on the original site of foundation.  Education at the College is based on the Mercy values of compassion, justice, excellence, integrity and service.

In all areas of teaching and learning, we aim for excellence and the highest educational outcomes within a non-threatening learning environment.  Risk-taking is encouraged, success is rewarded and disappointment acknowledged.  Our students are self-directed, critical thinkers who take ownership of their educational journey and persevere to achieve their personal best.  The focus is on life-long learning that will provide the spiritual, social, physical and emotional development needed to achieve personal fulfilment.

Mercedes College has had a long and successful tradition of providing for students with special additional learning needs. Individual Education Plans enable students at risk to be challenged and to succeed at their own level of capacity. Differentiated Learning is a priority in all classrooms and the academic results of the College are historically high. 80 to 85% of Year 12 students aspire to and achieve university entrance whilst certificate courses, workplace learning, the STRIVE program and traineeships provide opportunities for students who are interested in either enhancing their academic results or pursuing other pathways. We believe that there are students who have academic skills well above those of their age peer group who require more modification to the curriculum and more challenge than can sometimes be met in mainstream classes. 

Research has also shown that there are students, achieving in the top 10% of their peer group, who underachieve, often deliberately, to avoid discrimination. These students traditionally succeed in their classes anyway. They achieve at the higher ends of their expected levels and just seem to understand everything that is taught to them at school. Despite their success, many are still not achieving at their full potential. Mercedes College is now running an accelerated learning program to cater for these students. 

What is Acceleration?
Acceleration is a learning intervention that moves students through an educational program at rates faster than typical. The level, complexity and pace of the learning and teaching are matched to the readiness and motivation of the student. Some students have the capacity to cover core content of the curriculum more rapidly than other students of their own age. Acceleration enhances learning so that the highest achieving students have the capacity to:

  • Learn at faster rates
  • Find, solve and act on problems more readily
  • Manipulate abstract ideas and make connections.  (VanTassel-Baska 1988)

The accelerated curriculum needs to be flexible enough to allow time for in-depth exploration of content, manipulation of ideas and questions that require higher order thinking and a learning environment that better meets the needs of the highest achieving students. Acceleration often helps these students ‘find others with common interests and helps develop a sense of real belonging’ (Sale College’s SEAL coordinator, Debbi Daff)

The Mercedes College Accelerated Learning Program
In 2014 an Accelerated Learning Program commenced with a small group of selected, very capable and committed Year 7 students who will benefit from the Program throughout their years of Secondary schooling. The group comprises a maximum of 25 students – 20 students selected on merit, potential and individual interview.  Five places are reserved for students who might be identified during the year as fitting the criteria for the program. The same will apply in 2015. Twenty students will be invited into the Year 7 Program.

Students in the Accelerated Learning Program will study Religious Education, Electives, Health and Physical Education and ‘Learning to Learn’ with their Year level cohort. To ensure appropriate social development, they will be in a Homeroom group with their mainstream peers. There will be no exemption from any part of the academic program.

Accelerated learning is offered in English, Mathematics, Society & Environment and Science, and the study of Chinese (Mandarin) will be mandatory. Mercedes College recognises the importance of the sequential development in each of these study areas and the role that maturation plays in the success of an individual student’s academic outcomes. At the same time, the expectation is that students in the Accelerated Learning Program will have the opportunity to complete Years 7 to 10 in three years. Over the other three years of secondary schooling, students may choose one of the following pathways:

  1. Gain an ATAR over two years and enter tertiary education one year earlier, having finished secondary school in five years;
  2. Undertake a broader choice of ATAR courses over the three years of senior secondary schooling, combining them with courses that will prepare them for tertiary study, such as supervised personal research and tutorial experience
  3. Combine study of ATAR courses with possible study of first year University subjects. The eligibility requirement and possible pathways are currently being investigated with the Universities.

Entry into the Program
Successful application into the Mercedes College Accelerated Learning Program depends on the following:

  • Commitment to the support of the Catholic ethos and Mercy charism of the College.
  • The student has had prior recognition of their exceptional academic ability through participation in extension or gifted and talented programs in their primary school.
  • Support from the individual student’s current teachers and data from the Year 5 Semester 2 report, with “VG” or ‘Excellent’ as common place for academic progression, attitude and completion of work and exemplary record of attendance and punctuality.
  • Gaining of suitable test scores across the whole range of skill areas being tested through the eligibility testing provided by Edutest.
  • Participation in an interview conducted at Mercedes College.

Registration is open to any student, currently in Year 6, who meet the above criteria. Students who have already been accepted into Mercedes College for Year 7 in 2015 or have a conditional offer, are welcome to apply for entry into the Accelerated Learning Program.

Registration is available on the Mercedes College website and registration must be completed by Friday 24 March 2014.  The cost of sitting the test will be $75 and this must be paid at the time of Application. Each Application must be supported by the Year 5 Semester 2 report and Year NAPLAN and WAMSE test results.

Day of Testing
The Edutest eligibility testing will be conducted at Mercedes College on SATURDAY 29 MARCH 2014. On the day of the testing, parents should bring their daughter to the College no later than 8.30am as testing will commence at 9am sharp. Students will gather in Catherine’s Garden, with entry through the Goderich Street gate. At the end of the testing, students can be collected by parents in Catherine’s Garden at 12 noon.

The student will have a short break and can bring a drink and something to eat. Each student should bring two black pens with them.

Short-listed applicants will be notified in writing and the final interview process will be conducted on Monday and Tuesday, 15 and 16 April 2014 at the College.

Successful applicants will be informed in writing by Friday 19 April, 2014.

Enquiries should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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