Bear in mind that Mame is only talking from a NSW perspective. In SA, if not any other states, the breakdown is primary school to year 7, high school from year 8. I’m sure there’s other differences as well.
Also, I was in a gifted and talented program in primary school and high school over here in Adelaide. This is approximately 14 years ago now (ouch).
We have a state program known as the “Students with High Intellectual Potential” or SHIP program. As I understand it, my mother and the school had a series of meetings when I was in grade 5 (age 10) about my academic process. Apparently I was bored, finding the work too easy and starting to cause trouble. So they took me to a local SHIP school, where the co-ordinator ran through various tests - IQ tests, emotional tests. They dubbed me “gifted” and said I should be moved to this school and put up a grade into year 6. So I did two years of schooling in one year.
I don’t know exactly what the selection criteria were. Obviously it was certain IQ and emotional critera, but I was 10 and didn’t really give a toss.
Supplementing this was a range of extra-curricular activities that the SHIP program ran, including things like “future problem solving” where kids were put into panels to create solutions to fictional problems in the future, and an off-campus computing course. Those activities were standard to my school. I don’t know if they were offered at other schools.
When I moved on to High School, once again mum scouted for a school with a SHIP program. It didn’t mean much to me in my first year, but when I was in grade 9 I was accelerated up to grade 11 English (my strengths were in languages less than math-based subjects). After that point, however, I’d gotten into the “teenage rebellion” stage and spent the next three years basically doing sweet fuck all at school.
For the most part gifted students are mainstreamed in our system and given extra/harder work. They want to keep them with their peers. This does not work so well, as teachers seem to love telling everyone that the one student is doing different work and should not be disturbed, which does not make for happy classroom relations. Also, sometimes teachers will expect the gifted kids to help others, and that also never goes down well either.
Occasionally gifted kids are moved up a grade. They don’t like doing this, especially in high school, where maturity may not be as advanced as the intellect. At my high school, we had a whole class of gifted kids who were skipped up a grade together and kept in their own special class until about grade 10. They ended up getting in tons of trouble when they had to share some classes with the “normal” students because they came in with a huge attitude because they’d spent the whole year being told how gifted and awesome they were. Again, didn’t go down too well.
Unfortunately they never figured out a perfect way to deal with gifted kids. On the whole, from my POV, it sucked. People knew you weren’t supposed to be in that grade, because you were younger than everyone else. People in every grade spent most of their time ragging on you for being “So smart” and god help if you had a failing like most anybody would (eg. I suck at math), everyone (teachers included) jump on it like hyenas with the “You’re supposed to be smart, why can’t you do this?”. I feel I would have been a lot happier had I been left in mainstream schooling and there was some sort of extracurricular study I could have done which didn’t have to be tied in with my immediate peers.
But anyway, the SHIP program was state-implemented as far as I knew. I think schools had freedom to set their own specific ways of dealing with the kids, be it mainstreaming/ harder work, moving up a grade, extracurriculars, mentoring programs etc.