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a bar of sand or shingle joining an island to the mainland. 

A tombolo is a bar of sand deposited by sea waves linking a close offshore island to the main land.  

When we were thinking of a new and original name for a school that caters for twice exceptional students, we visualised it as being a place of safety separate from the mainstream schools yet noticeably linked to society and the world.  The idea of an island, the school, providing skill training, learning and personal growth becoming gently linked to the mainland of work and family via a tombolo, a bridge, a pathway is a crucial image to the directors of the school. Tombolo students will be equipped with the capacity to undertake the final years of schooling and beyond, on the mainland of society.

As with the depositing sand which is built up over years by waves, the link between the twice exceptional student and the bigger world will be built consistently and gradually. The base will be vulnerable at first but as the sand stabilises the strength of the student and the sand will grow and create a genuine tombolo.

The students attending the Tombolo Academy are twice exceptional

Twice-exceptional learners are students who demonstrate the potential for high achievement or creative productivity in one or more domains such as math, science, technology, the social arts, the visual, spatial, or performing arts or other areas of human productivity AND who manifest one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria. These disabilities include specific learning disabilities; speech and language disorders; emotional/behavioural disorders; physical disabilities; Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD); or other health impairments, such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These disabilities and high abilities combine to produce a unique population of students who may fail to demonstrate either high academic performance or specific disabilities. Their gifts may mask their disabilities and their disabilities may mask their gifts. 

In Australia twice exceptional students are those with a gift as identified according to Gagne’s model but also have a disability as identified by Disability Standards for Education 2005. Gifted students are those who achieve in the top 10% of the age population in any recognised domain for the culture they live in.  

At Tombolo Academy we acknowledge that twice exceptional students often have different cognitive, social, emotional and even physical needs to their age peers. Asynchronicity will be accepted. The student’s physical capacity to manage tasks will be scaffolded and supported. Strong emotions will be respected, and facilitation will happen to encourage a positive action developing from the emotion.

Enrolment eligibility

Defining twice exceptional students is a very complex process. There are many possible variations in indicators which need to be considered. Making a check list of specific qualities is too hard to define. The opinion of suitably qualified people should be sought but there are some indicators:

  • an IQ test performed by a recognised psychologist – A Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), a Stanford-Binet, a Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI)
  • a series of awards in a field recognised by a professional registered organisation – for example Gymnastics Australia, Water Polo Australia Ltd, Australian Parkour Association, St John Ambulance Australia, Hand knitters Guild
  • certificates of achievement, above that expected for age, from external assessments – for example music, chess, writing awards
  • certificates, awards or references indicating involvement in social, charitable, voluntary ventures which imply an advanced social or entrepreneur skill 
  • recognition in newspapers or other public documents of a level of service beyond age expectations
  • medals for events won in competitions that have governing bodies 
  • pieces of art, writing, mathematical solutions that are recognised as being in advance of age by professionals who can genuinely assess such items
  • publication of a piece of work
  • the creation of a unique solution, piece of work, business, organisation in the public domain

A disability is any recognised by the act. A disability is not restricted to a specific type of child. A certificate of ‘disability’ from a relevant practitioner must be provided before enrolment in the school.

The combination of ability and disability may result in either being hidden, exaggerated or neutralised by the other. We acknowledge that giftedness frequently enables compensation to occur. Though the success of compensation strategies can be significantly reduced when stress, tiredness or anxiety kicks in. 

Great care must be taken to ensure the gift is recognised by the interviewer before the child is offered a place in the school.

Restrictions of enrolment

    • The well-being of all students and staff is paramount. No student is to be admitted who is likely to be violent, in any manner, towards another person or themselves.
    • Applicants must be of the correct age.
    • Students who can be satisfactorily accommodated in their local school are encouraged to attend that school.
    • Currently the Tombolo Academy building is not set up for the use of hoists, lifts or other high level supports for movement and toileting.
    • Students for whom English is an additional language will be required to demonstrate their level of oral proficiency in English. Limited written literacy skills will not cause a student to be excluded.
    • Students are recommended to enrol for the beginning of a term.
    • The student has the right to appeal to the Board, in writing, if their application is not accepted. After investigation the decision of the Board is final for all parties.

Expression of interest

Enrolment Process

In accordance with Tombolo Academy’s Philosophy and Strategic and Business Plan, Tombolo Academy must only seek to enrol students who are have been assessed as being twice exceptional and are in need of the flexible and tailored learning environment that Tombolo Academy provides to engage with education.

Application: The initial step is to complete the expression of interest form (found on website ) accompanied by relevant documentation to indicate that the parent, or specialist professional, considers that the student is twice exceptional.

Tour: Following receipt of the expression of interest form, the Principal decides if the school wishes to progress the application. If need be further evidence will be sought from the family or a letter will be sent informing the family that a place will not be offered and will outline the rationale for this decision.
The family and student are then invited to tour the school. These two steps, the form and the tour, are able to be reversed where requested from the family. 2e students often need to see the school before they are willing to agree to any further steps.

Completion of full application form: The Tombolo Academy enrolment form (found on web site is completed and returned.

Invitation for interview: An invitation will be sent to the parent(s)/guardian of the student to attend an interview where all students are required to show good cause as to why they should be admitted to the school. This hurdle may be modified to be a video piece, a letter or some other manner if the student has issues that would cause this situation to be discriminatory. However, the student should attend the interview even if this is uncomfortable for them.

Placement decision: Once both the application form has been received and the interview has been conducted, then the school staff assess the capacity of the school to support the student based on:

  • Academic needs 
  • Physical and emotional support needs
  • Availability of places at the target academic year level

Placement decisions will be made by 1st November where a student is applying to commence at the start of the academic year. Where an application is received during an academic year then placement decisions will be made as soon as possible following the interview in order to allow the student to start school the next term. It is possible that a letter will be sent informing the family that a place will not be offered and will outline the rationale for this decision.

Enrolment advice: Following the placement decision, the family of successful applicants will be notified in writing that a position is available and will be informed of the start date.

Acceptance of placement: Parent(s)/Guardians must formally accept in writing, the offer of a student placement within 7 days of receipt of an offer.

Formal written acceptance can be by letter or email to [email protected].


The building is a traditional single story red brick primary school with interconnected classrooms. The building is situated in open grounds surrounded by open space, ovals, and tennis courts and adjacent to a council reserve. The buildings have been refurbished to meet the specific needs of Tombolo Academy. The site is secured by a fence and the grounds contain sensitive sustainable landscaping.

Submit your applications

Expression of Interest
Enrolment Application


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