Academic Excellence


​​​Program Summary

Our Academic Excellence program challenges students to reach their highest academic potential through an innovative curriculum creating a unique transition from high school to university. The individual talents of each student in the program are nurtured by our specialist trained teachers, providing support to a high level curriculum that encourages students to become leaders in their field.

Head to the bottom of this page to see our Academic Excellence Promotional Video.


The Academic Excellence program, beginning in Year 7, focuses on developing, extending and accelerating knowledge acquisition and thinking in the core academic subjects of Maths, English, Science and Humanities.

Year 7 students are able to apply for entrance into one of the following programs:

  • Integrated Learning Program - Advanced English, Advanced Science and Advanced Humanities studied together + Advanced Maths (see program explanation below)
  • Dual Program- Advanced English, Advanced Science, Advanced Humanities and Advanced Maths (each subject studied discretely)

A team of dedicated, experienced teachers deliver the program and one of the key features is the high level of contact they are able to maintain with the students and parents throughout each, and across many years.

The Academic Excellence program strives to develop each student as a life-long learner so that they become:

  • A knowledgeable person with deep understanding

  • A complete thinker

  • A creative person

  • An active investigator

  • An effective communicator

  • An independent participant

  • A reflective and self-directed learner

The program includes special projects and participation in extension activities at both a local and national level.

Integrated Learning Program

Students entering the Year 7 Academic Excellence program have the unique opportunity of being able to apply for a class that will be engaged in an Integrated Learning Program. Integrated learning is a cross-curricula study of English, Humanities and Science, combined in units of work so as to promote deep learning through an inquiry-based process that encourages connections between subjects and the application of skills in multiple areas. Subjects will not be studied discretely, as is the current practice. Students will spend each term engaged in a combination of guided and self-directed learning in order to understand important problems, identify unique solutions and create authentic responses to the problems.

Integrated learning reflects contemporary educational trends, involving rich, complex learning experiences that support the development of higher order thinking, collaboration and other 21st century skills. This learning environment is responsive to students' needs and interests and well-suited to extending the learning of highly able students. Also incorporated in these units of study are new and emerging technologies along with entrepreneurial education and value creation.

The Integrated Learning Program operates in years 7 and 8. Please be assured that students studying in the integrated program will continue to be exposed to all of the essential components of each subject of the Australian curriculum, and achievements within each discrete subject will be reported on. So, while students will study in an integrated way, subjects will be reported on separately.

Students electing to apply for the integrated learning program are unable to participate in any other excellence program.

Thinking Skills

The teaching of thinking skills is fundamental to providing students with opportunities to develop the higher order thinking that is necessary for them to attain their optimum potential.

Research shows that student performance in complex reasoning processes and decision-making results in higher achievement in senior subjects.

Skilful thinking is neither natural nor as common as we would like, and because it is not likely to develop automatically in every student, we have made it an integral part of the Academic Excellence curriculum by incorporating the development of thinking skills into our core subjects.

Staff Professional Development

Teachers within the Academic Excellence Program are committed to further, on-going professional development. Each holds a formal qualification in catering for highly able learners. At PBC we will continue to focus on:

  • Enhancement of teacher knowledge and skills
  • Educational provision for highly able students
  • Fostering attitudes which contribute to improved learning culture in the classroom
  • Updating and improving information and communication technology skills
Teachers are selected to be part of the Academic Excellence Program. Many are leading practitioners in their subject area. Senior teachers, Heads of Department, and Deputy Principals and Heads of School are actively involved in encouraging and supporting constant improvement amongst teachers through professional development programs. Academic Selective Entry staff commit to on-going formal training in teaching highly capable students.

Selection Procedure

Year 7

Academic Excellence entry is competitive. For entry into Year 7, students sit the ACER Higher Ability Selection Test, made up of four subtests:

  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Writing 
  • Reading Comprehension

Applicants will be short-listed following the results of the HAST test and will be invited to attend a group problem solving activity and a personal interview.

Further information regarding HAST:
Sample HAST questions by downloading a booklet ($25 cost): HAST Sample Questions

Other help: Reading comprehension, mathematical reasoning, and creative writing test examples can be found on many online sites. 

For abstract reasoning, try the following links to find online tests for practise.
(difficult but provides good explanations of common patterns) 
(scroll down for common questions and strategies) The critical thinking test and most of the reasoning tests (except mechanical reasoning) provide suitable practice of the questioning types used in HAST​.

Please note:

In selecting suitable students for the Academic Excellence program for the Year 7 intake, several factors are taken into account. The results from three different sources are triangulated to give an overall picture of student achievement or potential for achievement. In school reports we look for achievement at or above a ‘B’ level, but understand that this can vary considerably from school to school. NAPLAN results (Reading, Writing and Numeracy) are used as they are external assessment pieces where grades are very consistent. Students who are able to achieve in the top two bands in these domains display a level of literacy/numeracy that is needed to engage in the Advanced Programs offered by Academic Excellence at PBC. However, we also understand that this is ‘point in time testing’, the results of which are nearly 12 months old. 

The HAST (Higher Ability Selection Test) that we conduct in March gives a very reliable, recent assessment of students’ current knowledge base in Reading Comprehension, Mathematics and Writing skill. In addition, the HAST General Ability test gives insight into innate ability and intellect and is not dependent on what students have been taught. Again, this test is ‘point in time’ and we understand that for whatever reason, a student might be having a bad day and not perform in line with expectations. No single one of these sources gives a perfectly accurate picture of a child’s ability and it is for this reason that we collect as much information about them as possible and look for commonalities across them. Please, if you have any additional supporting documentation, particularly from external sources (eg ICAS results, subject specific competition results, psychometric testing etc) attach it to your child’s application. 

Students will also be assessed on their ability to engage with others in a problem solving task and on an individual interview with one of the Academic Excellence staff members.

Don’t be concerned if you don’t have all of the information that we require. We are able to make a judgement based on what is supplied to us but of course, the more we have, the more accurate that judgement will be. 

Merit based selection

A small number of students may be made an offer based on merit. The three sets of information collected (NAPLAN, HAST results and Report Card) are used to triangulate  data in order to make an informed decision regarding each applicant's suitability for the program. Triangulation helps validate data through cross-verification from more than two sources. It tests the consistency of achievements obtained through different instruments.

Students who have recent psycho-educational testing reports showing their ability level across a range of domains, are encouraged to share the report to support their application.

Years 8 - 10

Entry into all year levels is by application at any time throughout the year, subject to places being available. 

Maintenance of Position in Program

Student performance is monitored regularly. Students must maintain high academic achievement as well as display suitable behaviour and effort and attendance across all subjects, whilst in the program. The school reserves the right to withdraw students from the Academic Excellence program at any time. 

Special Provisions

Where necessary, measures will be undertaken to accommodate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students from non-English speaking backgrounds, and economically disadvantaged students. Please contact the school if you believe that your child identifies with any of these categories. Where such students satisfy entrance requirements, we will endeavour to assist their pathway if required. 

Program Costs

A fee, additional to the textbook and equipment hire charge, is payable upon acceptance into the program and in each subsequent year that the student is part of the program. These funds are used to provide additional resources and enhancement exclusively for students within the program. Such funds provide greater curriculum resources and specialised training for teachers, master classes, entry fees to competitions, online subscriptions and some excursion costs.


For further information or applications forms ​​​please contact the Excellence Enrolments Officer or phone 07 5525 9418.


Last reviewed 28 March 2023
Last updated 28 March 2023