The Auracle – Volume 18, June 2017


Vol. 18, June 2017
In this issue:

Aurora College

3B Smalls Road
Ryde NSW 2112

Phone: 1300 287 629
Fax: 02 9886 7525

From the Principal’s desk

Image of a pearl

The pearl,  Omar Bariffi CCBY2.0

As Semester 1 draws to a close, staff at Aurora’s coordinating office have been very busy preparing support materials for the schools that will partner with us in 2018. Meeting the commitment we made to our State Reference Group, the 2018 Partner School Information page of our website went ‘live’ on Monday 19 June 2017.

Available on the Partner School Information page is the Aurora College timetable template for 2018 and a range of related support documents. Throughout Semester 2, Aurora staff will work with colleagues in our partner schools to plan for and support the curriculum of our shared enrolments. Once again, a range of initiatives will assist our partners in this endeavour, including timetabling workshops in Term 4, at a number of venues across the state.

The Partner School Information page is at I invite all community members to review the documents on this page.

On 6 June, your parent representative, Natalie Winter (mother of Charlie in Year 7 and Jackson in Year 8, Nowra High School) and Kathy Klados joined me at a meeting of the Selective High School Selection Committee. Held each year, the purpose of this meeting is to produce an order of merit list for students seeking enrolment in Year 7 in the following year. In determining the order of merit, the committee considers, for example, any special circumstances that may have affected how an applicant performed in the Selective High School Placement Test. Outcome advice for all applicants is sent by the High Performing Students Unit in early July. We all look forward to meeting our next intake of ‘bright lights’.

Students who wish to study with Aurora College and either did not qualify or did not apply for entry in Year 7 have the opportunity to apply for entry in Years 8, 9 and 10. Applications for entry into Years 8 to 10 (2018) opened 23 June 2017 and close on 25 July 2017. Vacancies will exist in all years in 2018, so we look forward to receiving applications from interested students. For further information on how to enrol, please visit

Of course, in making an application to study at a selective school, students and their parents first make a judgement about the relative merits of a comprehensive versus selective school education. In the wider education community, there are passionate views held on both sides of the argument about which educational setting best caters for the needs of gifted and talented students. The equitable access to a selective school and the impact on enrolments at neighbouring comprehensive schools are issues that are debated in educational communities everywhere.

An essay on the topic by Christina Ho, Senior Lecturer and Discipline Coordinator, Social and Political Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, appeared recently in the Sydney Morning Herald. Christina expressed the view that selective schools are “increasingly bastions of inequality, rather than simply havens for the gifted and talented.” In support of her view, she cited data sourced from the MySchool website, which shows the majority of successful applicants to selective schools come from the most advantaged groups in our society.

Chris Bonnor AM is a retired principal, education writer, speaker and advocate. Chris served with distinction as president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council and is currently a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development and a Director of Big Picture Education Australia. Responding to Christina Ho’s essay in an article he wrote for the Pearls and Irritations website, Chris said, “The way forward is to expand the Aurora College concept in both scale and reach.”

In a strong endorsement of the Aurora College model, Chris also offered the following pearls of wisdom:

“The benefits of serving gifted and talented students in this way are substantial. The model can also serve other students with specialist interests. In this way the power and social benefits of comprehensive and inclusive schooling can sit easily with the advancement of students who benefit from additional opportunities. In effect, the often conflicting views of education as a collective good or a private and positional good can be reconciled.”

Chris restated what our community knows to be the real strength of the Aurora College model: students can remain in their local community where their social and emotional needs are best catered for, but also join a cohort of like-minded and similar ability peers in a specialist program for gifted and talented students. Examples of the benefits to our students and teachers of belonging to two education communities are celebrated in this and every edition of The Auracle. Connect locally and learn globally!

Aside from providing a specialist gifted and talented students program for students in Years 7 to 10, Aurora also gives Stage 6 government high school students in rural and remote communities the opportunity to study subjects that are not available in their own school.

In 2018, Aurora College will be offering the Stage 6 subjects listed below.

  • Year 11: Mathematics (2 Unit); Mathematics Extension 1; English Advanced; English Extension 1; Agriculture; Physics; Chemistry; Economics; Italian Beginners; Japanese Beginners; Software Design and Development.
  • Year 12: Mathematics (2 Unit); Mathematics Extension 1; Mathematics Extension 2; English Advanced; English Extension 1; English Extension 2; Agriculture; Physics; Chemistry; Economics; Italian Beginners; Software Design and Development; History Extension.

Applications for enrolment in:

  • Year 11 open Monday 24 July 2017 and close Friday 27 October 2017
  • Year 12 open on Tuesday 18 July 2017 and close on Friday 25 August 2017.

For further information on how to enrol, please visit

Enjoy the school holidays!

Chris Robertson


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Deputy’s report

We have had a very busy few weeks as staff completed reports and conducted parent interviews. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all parents who made appointments to speak with teachers about their child’s progress this semester. If you missed out on this opportunity, please feel free to arrange an interview by contacting the coordinating office by phone on 1300 287 629 or email

EduTECH 2017

On 8 and 9 June, Aurora College was honoured to feature in the NSW Department of Education’s Futures Learning Spaces exhibition at EduTECH 2017. Held this year at the new International Convention Centre Sydney, the EduTECH International Congress and Expo is the largest education event in Asia-Pacific and the Southern Hemisphere.

Pictured at the department's Futures Learning Spaces exhibition at EduTECH 2017 (Kathy Klados, Virginia Cluff, Chris Robertson and Owen Brown)

Kathy Klados, Virginia Cluff, Chris Robertson and Owen Brown at EduTECH 2017

Over two days, many of the 6500+ delegates had the opportunity to view live Aurora lessons and to talk with staff about what it takes to work in NSW’s first virtual school. We were very pleased to share the exhibition space with students and teachers from a number of future focused NSW government schools, displaying their talents in areas that included coding, robotics and 3D design and printing.

For further information, please visit

Coordinator of the term

The Term 2 ‘Star Aurora College Coordinator’ goes to Elizabeth Myburgh from Young High School who supports students from Year 7-12. Elizabeth is very thorough and always ready to help out. She has a real interest in her Aurora students and in the welfare of her students in her home school. Elizabeth can always be relied upon to respond to requests for information in a timely manner. Thank you for doing a great job, Elizabeth!

Who do I contact if I have concerns?

For concerns related to their learning and assessment, students should always make their first approach to their class teacher. Students and their parents also have the option of contacting the relevant Head Teacher.

For most other concerns, the best point of contact for students and their parents is the Aurora College Coordinator (ACC). Your ACC has access to a range of information via Aurora College’s ‘home school’ portal on Sentral, including attendance rolls, details of assessment tasks, timetables, merits and reports. Your ACC can also provide advice about who to contact if you have concerns they cannot assist you with.

All other correspondence to Aurora College should be directed to or via phone on 1300 287 629.

Expectations of all students

When a student enrols with Aurora College, they become a shared enrolment of two schools. It is an expectation that our students will behave in a manner that reflects well on Aurora College and their home school at all times.

All students in NSW government schools are expected to:

  • attend every school day, unless they are legally excused, and be in class on time and prepared to learn
  • maintain a neat appearance, including adhering to the requirements of the school’s uniform or dress code policy
  • behave safely, considerately and responsibly, including when travelling to and from school
  • show respect at all times for teachers, other school staff and helpers, including following class rules, speaking courteously and cooperating with instructions and learning activities
  • treat one another with dignity and respect
  • care for property belonging to themselves, the school and others.

Behaviour that infringes on the safety of others, such as harassment, bullying and illegal or anti-social behaviour of any kind, will not be tolerated. [Source: Core Rules – Student discipline in NSW Government Schools.]

Our students should:

  • be prepared to engage in learning, by:
    • showing a positive attitude
    • having the correct equipment for every lesson
    • doing their best at all times
    • arriving to class on time
  • respect themselves and others, by:
    • accepting responsibility for the choices they make
    • treating all people with respect
    • using appropriate language and actions
    • following teachers’ instructions at all times
    • being responsible for looking after their own property and school property
    • respecting the property of others
  • behave safely, by:
    • following class rules
    • caring for themselves and others
    • behaving in a way that does not put themselves or others at risk
    • negotiating and resolving conflicts

As heavy users of the internet and online communication services provided by the NSW Department of Education, all Aurora College students must abide by the Department’s conditions of acceptable usage. Online Communication Services: Acceptable Usage for School Students lists three key areas of responsibility for students when working in the college’s virtual learning environment. These relate to:

  • Access and security
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Intellectual property and copyright.

Kathy Klados

Deputy Principal

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Connect locally, learn globally

My name is Molly, I’m 13 and in Year 8 at both Aurora, and my home school, Richmond River High. I live on the far north coast of New South Wales, in Lismore, which is 50km inland from Byron Bay. I love living in Lismore, because I get the best of both worlds. I get to have the convenience of having shops, cafés, cinemas, theatres, galleries and a library within walking distance of my house, while still having the small-world feel of country living. You’ll see someone you know every time you walk down the street, adding to the feeling of belonging and security that you get when living in a country town. In a matter of ten minutes I can go from driving through streets of café’s and shops, to beautiful rain forest and water holes.

About 40,000 people call Lismore home. Known as “the heart of the Northern Rivers”, Lismore is mostly known for its strong sense of community and rich cultural diversity. All walks of life gather in the CBD each year, for annual events like The Lantern Parade, The Lismore Show, Tropical Fruits and Eat the Street Food Festival. I love Lismore’s community because new opportunities always arise from meeting new people and experiencing new things. I am constantly being exposed to so many different arts: music, visual arts and theatre, which I am really interested in. I particularly love drama, and have been part of a youth theatre company for over 8 years now, working alongside other young actors of Lismore. I have performed in numerous shows and also been part of a web-series, produced by my theatre group.

Lismore during the floods this year

Lismore was recently devastated by a major flood, a result of Cyclone Debbie. Due to the torrential downpours that lasted for several days, the rivers that run through Lismore burst their banks, flowed over the levee and flooded the town. The water rose so quickly and no one had any time to prepare. Every single business in the town was affected, along with many people’s homes and my school. Lismore came together as a community to clean up and repair the damage, both physical and mental, and help others to rebuild their lives. This is a great instance of how community-orientated the town is and how everyone genuinely cares for one and other.

In my home school, there are approximately 130 people in my year and about 1000 at my school. My school, however, is just one of three campuses of the new ‘super school’: The Rivers Secondary College. My favourite subjects at school are History, English and Science, but I enjoy most subjects. There are so many things I would like to do when I finish school, it’s just a matter of making a decision. I have been exposed to so many different occupations, with, medicine, politics, education and photography (just to name a few!) all having history in my family. But I would also love to pursue something in law or politics as I have a very strong commitment to social justice.

I love attending Aurora and all of the challenges it brings. I like to extend myself and my learning, and Aurora helps me to do this. I love going to classes and also enjoy attending masterclasses and e-mentoring sessions. I get along well with my peers and much prefer being in an academic environment, working alongside like-minded people who have similar interests to me. I am so lucky to be able be taught by such incredible teachers, to have met so many people from all across the state and to have formed great friendships. No matter what I choose to do in the future, Aurora has helped me to develop so many skills and gain so much knowledge, and I know it will continue to do so. I am excited to see what the future brings for online learning and see where it takes the Aurora community next.

Molly Oquist

Year 8, The Rivers Secondary College Richmond River High Campus

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HSC study days

Once again, Aurora College is hosting a series of HSC Study Day events. These events provide an opportunity for any HSC class in a rural or remote Department of Education School to connect and revise, in real time, with other students across the state. Both Kate Thompson and I have sought a range of experts, experienced teachers and HSC markers to present HSC examination advice and up to date information on course content.

This year we look forward to offering more course and topics and involving an even greater variety of presenters.

During week 8 we kicked off the series with English Advanced and Extension 1. This involved:


Based on the feedback from both the schools who participated and the presenters, this was a very successful event.

Upcoming HSC Study Day events in the series include:

  • Physics – Wednesday 19th July
  • Mathematics Extension 1 – Friday 21st July
  • Mathematics Extension 2 – Monday 24th July
  • Mathematics 2 unit – Wednesday 26th July
  • Economics (featuring Ross Gittins & Jessica Irvine from the Sydney Morning Herald) – Thursday 27th July
  • Chemistry (featuring Australian National Maritime Museum) – Wednesday 30th August
  • Software Design & Development – Wednesday 6th September

Sharleen Mulawin

R/Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Spotlight On… Alana Ragen-Harrison

Alana Ragen-Harrison at her desk

Alana Ragen-Harrison at her desk

Where was your previous teaching appointment?

For the past 13 years (up until this year) I was an Italian/Japanese/EAL/D and Learning Support Teacher at Holsworthy High School, which is in South West Sydney.

What is your local community like?

I live in Willoughby, on the north shore of Sydney, about 5 minutes from the Harbour Bridge. It is very green and leafy but at the same time very busy which I love. I enjoy living just a ten-minute bus ride from the city.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

Learning and Support is not a subject per se, but I must say that it is my favourite role out of everything I have ever done as a teacher. I love helping and supporting students to be the best they can be and devising strategies to cater to all the diverse needs of our students.

What do you like about teaching at Aurora?

I love teaching with the latest innovative technology. I am constantly learning from everyone around me which makes it a very stimulating and exciting environment to work in. I also love working with students in rural and remote areas as I learn so much about different areas of the state and different lifestyles. I have come from an extremely different school environment so it is a joy to teach new students.

What are your other interests?

I love studying the latest research on behaviour interventions and Autism. It is a real passion of mine. I also love spending time with my children and exploring new things with them.

Alana Ragen-Harrison

Teacher Italian & Learning and Support Teacher

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Bright lights

Duke of Edinburgh endeavour

This year I am participating in the Duke of Edinburgh award through my home school. The award requires me to do 3 months of community service, which is volunteering at the Child Care Centre, 3 months of physical recreation, which is playing netball on a Saturday, and a major section that is 6 months. For my major section, I have chosen to do a new skill, which is embroidering squares to make a quilt. I must complete an hour a week for each section.

I also have to complete a practice journey and a qualifying journey. Last week the other Bronze participants and I completed our practice journey in the Mathoura Forest. We started the journey by driving to Mathoura on Monday morning and hiking 10km to our campsite. The second and last day we hiked 8km, however, 3km into the hike we realised that we were going the wrong way. Our teachers had a 45 min rule where they would let us go in the wrong direction for 45 min before telling us. Because we went in the wrong direction, we ended up having to cut through the bush and cross many creeks and mud patches to get back onto the home track.

Throughout the hike, we had to carry everything we needed. This included our camping, cooking gear, food and clothes.

Term 4 is our qualifying journey, which is going to be at the Grampians National Park in Victoria. I’m excited to see the views in the Grampians but nervous for the hike up to the top.

Georgina Mildren

Year 9, Deniliquin High School

Connecting with my Aurora friends

Emily pictured with (L to R), The Premier of NSW, The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, her father Greg and the Mayor of Griffith,

Emily pictured with (L to R), The Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of NSW, Emily’s father Greg and the Mayor of Griffith, John Dal Broi.

This term, when Dad had to go to Broken Hill for a conference, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see just how different our education really is. For a long time, I have wanted to see my friends in Broken Hill. Texting and snap chatting for hours at night isn’t the same as talking in person. So I arranged with Mr Sheppard at Willyama High School to attend their school for 2 days while dad was at a conference.

During this time, I had the opportunity to study in the same classes as I do at Wade High School, but I also got to talk about my work with my Aurora friends who I don’t usually get to see. I had the chance to have a sleepover, go to the movie and go shopping with my friends in Broken Hill – Jordan Fisher, Lauren Fisher and Maggie Zanon.

It made me realise just how awesome Aurora College is. I can follow dad to a conference hundreds of kilometres away from home, I can do the same work that is expected of me in my normal school – but most importantly, study in a school where I already have friends, who I have spent hours talking to.

What the whole trip really showed me was that when in the classroom, you can easily forget just how expansive our classroom really is. It’s not until you sit in the car for 10 hours (a long 10 hours with dad pumping Metallic) you really start to appreciate how different our classroom really is.

Thankyou Mr Sheppard (Principal, Willyama High School), Mrs Dixon (Principal, Wade High School), Mr Robertson, Jordan (and her parents), Lauren and Maggie for allowing this to happen.

Emily Adamson

Year 8 , Wade High School

Emily Adamson also had the opportunity at a recent ‘meet and greet’ to briefly chat about her studies with the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of NSW, and John Dal Broi, Mayor of Griffith. Great to see you flying the Aurora colours, Emily!

Maddison Gay (Year 8, Jindabyne Central School) performed as ‘Satin Rose’ with her sister, Kayla, and her dad, Brett, at the recent Peak Music Festival held in Perisher over the June long weekend. We would all like to hear you play at the next residential school, Maddison!

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Opportunities to shine

What problem would you like to see scientists solve for the future of our society?

The ANSTO Big Ideas Forum will bring 22 students and 11 teachers from across Australia to Sydney to meet world-class researchers and get hands-on with amazing technology. ANSTO are looking for people who are creative and passionate.

Young people using STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) are the ones who will take our society into the future, so tell us your big idea for a chance to spend an exciting week with our researchers.

This event is free – flights, travel, accommodation and meals are covered by ANSTO. For more information, visit

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Parent Masterclass

A Parent Masterclass will be held on the afternoon of Tuesday 25 July at 3 pm on the topic of Empowering parents to reinforce study skills at home.

Elevate Education has been providing students at Aurora with a range of study skills, exam techniques and organisational tips over the past few months. We would like to consolidate this information with a parent masterclass. A senior presenter will share Elevate Education’s key research and skills, plus answer questions so parents can help their children navigate their final years of school.

For more information, please see our flyer.

Register online at Registrations close Wednesday 19 July 2017.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Mentoring program

The e-Mentoring Program at Aurora is progressing well. The Year 8’s have had 5 e-mentoring sessions so far this year, reaching the halfway milestone in their program.

We have established further contacts through the Department of Education Sponsorship unit, which will help us to expand our network of mentors and industry partners.

Next term we will call for student nominations from other year groups to participate in the e-mentoring program. Keep an eye out for further details about how students can participate in the e-mentoring program.

Sharleen Mulawin

R/Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Student work samples

Year 10 creative non-fiction

Earlier this semester, Year 10 explored creative non-fiction texts from a range of cultures covering a variety of topics that reflected the composer’s context. This is an area of writing, which many of the students had never delved into, but the results from the students display the skill, range of topics and styles that this mode of writing can allow them to express.

Carolyn McMurtrie

Head Teacher English

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Library report

Too busy to read? Try an audiobook and listen on the go! A number of new audiobook titles have been added to the Aurora College Digital Library – keep an eye out early next term for the next issue of our new resources newsletter Ex Libris Aurora. Each of the new audiobook titles will be featured.

The Aurora College Digital Library is available 24/7. Ebooks, websites, audiobooks and apps are included in our library, along with access to subscriber services such as Worldbook Online, Clickview Online, Cosmos Magazine Online and SpineOut. Access our Library via your student portal homepage.

Have you visited the federated search option in OLIVER recently? Clickview online has been embed in this function, so you can now view educational videos, mapped to specific content being taught at Aurora College.

Entries for the Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider short story competition close on 15 August. Alex Rider is a 14-year-old secret agent who works for MI6, the CIA and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. He is the lead character in Anthony Horowitz’s novels from the Alex Rider series. Write your own Alex Rider short story and enter via Anthony Horowitz will select the winning story. We have a number of the Alex Rider books in our Aurora College Digital Library for you to borrow.

Happy reading!

Kaylene Taylor

Teacher Librarian

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From the engine room

Contacting Aurora College

When you need to contact us,  you have a few choices.

  • You can contact us by telephone, on 1300 287 629 (new contact number). Please update your contact records to this new number.
  • You can contact us by email, at It’s always best to use this email address when sending email to our administration team, as direct email addresses can change as our staff change and we don’t want your email to get lost.
  • You can send us a fax on 02 9886 7525. This number will change at the beginning of next year, and we will publish the new number as soon as it is available.

Denise Deaves

School Administrative Manager

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A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft

You may have heard of the term STEM and it’s applicability in modern teaching. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and Microsoft has a vast range of STEM tools available to parents and students.

Click the poster above to download a brochure with links to resources for embracing STEM with Microsoft!

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Aurora College; 3b Smalls Road, Ryde, NSW 2112
Phone: 1300 287 629; Fax: 02 9886 7525; Email:
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