Deputy Premier and Member for Dubbo Troy Grant and Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli today joined students from across NSW for a lesson at the State’s new virtual high school, Aurora College.
Mr Grant said the school has started with a Year 7 selective stream of 55 students, continuing Xsel students and Year 11 students in selected subjects.
“I have seen first-hand how technology can bridge the gap in educational achievement between city and country students,” Mr Grant said.
“Dubbo has long been a hub for delivering distance education, and I am pleased the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is increasing the opportunities available to rural and remote students across the State.
“Aurora College will work in partnership with 49 rural and remote schools, where the students are physically based. Specialist teachers have been handpicked for Aurora College and come from a further 30 schools across the State.
“Students in rural and remote NSW will have access to our best teachers, even if those teachers are based in the city.”
Mr Piccoli said the school would provide further opportunities for academically gifted students in rural and remote NSW.
“Attending a selective school is an opportunity that until now has only been available for students in metropolitan areas and larger regional centres,” Mr Piccoli said.
“Using the latest collaboration technology, we are addressing a major equity issue affecting talented students in regional areas — students who have previously been unable to access the subjects and resources they need.
“Aurora College is one element of the NSW Government’s $80 million education package for rural and remote schools, announced in 2013. Other elements of the plan include $30 million to attract and retain quality teachers, and $4 million to strengthen early childhood education.
“We have either achieved or are on track to deliver each of the commitments contained in the plan,” Mr Piccoli said.
As part of a technology collaboration with the Department of Education and Communities, Microsoft has supplied a range of productivity and collaboration software and training, and HP has donated 190 ultra-portable devices.
Microsoft Australia Managing Director Pip Marlow said Microsoft is thrilled to be selected as a technology partner for the launch of Aurora College.
“We strongly believe that all Australian students should have access to the same education opportunities,” Ms Marlow said.
“With the advancements in technology, it is now possible to bring together students in rural and remote Australia to collaborate and learn virtually with teachers, so that they receive the same education as students in major cities.”
HP Vice President and General Manager, Printing & Personal Systems, HP South Pacific, Rob Mesaros said HP is supporting the initiative because it recognised Aurora College as a great example of how technology can enhance learning.
“When access is combined with quality learning, social and economic outcomes result for students, for schools and for communities,” Mr Mesaros said.
“Aurora College is using technology to create better learning in rural and remote areas for students who may not usually have access to this type of enhanced education.”