There are many and varied opportunities for gifted and talented students in the Humanities and Social Sciences area. In Years 9 and 10, students are selected for inclusion in an extension class. Typically, these classes move at a faster rate and cover topics in greater depth. In History, the Australian Curriculum is followed. In Economics, Politics and Geography, students study more advanced topics and cover more international issues. In Year 10, students set their own inquiry topic, generate a hypothesis and present evidence to support their argument. This self-chosen, self-paced research is a major aspect of the extension programme.
Excursions and incursions
Where appropriate, the extension class is invited to participate in additional experiences, such as Festival of Perth events, relevant to the courses studied. When special guests, such as authors or illustrators, visit St Mary's, there are enrichment opportunities offered to gifted and talented students.
Selected Year 7 - 10 students are invited to take part in the National Geography Competition, as well as the National History Challenge. Both extension classes take part in this competition.
Year 9 extension students enter either the Simpson Prize or the National History Competition or, in some cases, both. Year 10 students are encouraged to enter the Simpson Prize. All three History competitions involve individual research essay writing. Within a general theme, students set and direct their own inquiry into an aspect of Australian history.
Students tackle a huge variety of topics, including the lack of recognition of indigenous ANZACs, nuclear testing in the Pacific and Australia’s banking history and response to the Global Financial Crisis. Students in Years 7 and 8 enter the Future Problem Solving Competition, an international contest based on responses to future scenarios involving issues of ethics, science, politics and economics.