From the Principal’s desk
Do you know a young person in your community who would benefit from a selective school education? The application processes for Years 5, 8, 9 and 10 for entry in 2021 commence soon.
Why a selective school/opportunity class?
Selective high schools and opportunity classes cater for academically gifted students with high potential who may otherwise be without sufficient classmates of their own academic standard. These educational provisions help students to learn by grouping them with students of similar ability, using specialised teaching methods and educational materials at the appropriate level.
Why Aurora College?
For over five years, Aurora College has been providing great teaching and inspired learning in a whole new context, by allowing students in rural and remote communities to connect locally and to learn globally. Aurora is committed to building relationships which foster in its students, a strong sense of belonging to Aurora and to their home school. Remaining in their local community, Aurora students benefit from the enhanced opportunities that come from belonging to two education communities.
Aurora College is dedicated to creating opportunities that will build each student’s capacity to become an autonomous, life-long learner. Aurora College embraces the philosophy of ‘personal best’, acknowledging that each student’s drive towards self-improvement in a curriculum rich in higher-order thinking provides a strong foundation for success in life beyond the school years. Aurora’s vision is to develop students who are not only at ease in the digital world, but who are empowered through their knowledge, skills and creativity to become influential contributors to the knowledge economies of this century.
When and how do I apply for entry in Year 5?
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Opportunity Class Placement Test has been rescheduled to Wednesday 16 September 2020. Parents must apply between Tuesday 9 June 2020 and Friday 26 June 2020. This process is conducted by the Department’s High Performing Students Unit and late applications cannot be accepted.
For this year only, changes have been made to the placement process to ensure students are placed in Year 5 opportunity classes across the state as early in 2021 as possible. Placement in an opportunity class in 2021 will be based solely on the results of the test. This year, principals will not be required to provide school assessment scores, but they will be requested to verify the information entered by parents. Offers will be made to successful students overnight on 1 December 2020.
The Aurora College virtual opportunity class will be based on the highly successful pilot program. Students will study mathematics, science and technology with Aurora College and they will study the balance of the curriculum with their home school peers. Aurora College lessons for our Stage 3 students will have a focus on STEM and will use an inquiry-based learning approach.
To be eligible for enrolment in the virtual opportunity class, students must also be enrolled in a NSW Government school which is classified as rural and remote. Students at schools with opportunity class provisions, or at schools within the drawing areas of existing opportunity class provisions, will not be eligible to apply. Click here to view the list of eligible host schools.
The first intake of Year 5 Aurora students will be in 2021. These students will comprise Aurora’s first Year 6 cohort in 2022 and there will be a new intake of Year 5 students in this, and in each subsequent year. For further information on the Opportunity Class Placement Process, please visit the Department’s Opportunity Class website.
When and how do I apply for entry in Years 8, 9 and 10?
Students who did not qualify and/or did not apply for entry in Year 7 have the opportunity to apply for the selective stream in Years 8, 9 and 10. To be eligible for enrolment, students must also be enrolled in a NSW Government secondary school which is classified as a rural and remote.
Applications for enrolment open on 19 June 2020 and close on 24 July 2020. Unlike the enrolment processes for other years, application for entry in Years 8, 9 and 10 is made directly to the school. A submitted application must include:
For further information, please visit http://www.aurora.nsw.edu.au/learn/secondary-students/enrol/.
Enjoy another great edition of The Auracle.
Chris Robertson | Principal
Deputy Principal’s report
Welcome back to Term 2. After what has been a very different start to the term for the whole of the state, I would like to extend my gratitude to all the wonderful staff here at Aurora College who have been able to adjust quickly to any changes necessary to ensure the support and delivery of quality education to our students. Many of our shared teachers were able to shine as online teaching experts as they were able to share their skills and knowledge with their home schools. Also, a big thank you to Virginia Cluff (Head Teacher Science), Serena McLean (Assistant Principal Stage 3) and Ben Hilllsey (Learning Technologies Support Officer) for work that they have completed with the professional development of teachers across the state, supporting them to navigate the new world of online teaching.
Semester 1 reports were issued to Year 12 parents on 11 May with parent interviews taking place on 20 May. We hope you enjoyed receiving informative feedback regarding your child’s learning. Semester 1 reports for Year 11 students will be issued on 5 June (Week 6) and Years 6 to 10 from 22 June (Week 9). These will be issued via email and the Sentral parent portal (https://aurora.sentral.com.au/portal). Unlike the Term 1 interim report, the Semester 1 report is a full ‘academic’ report. It will show the progress that each student is making towards achieving specific course outcomes.
Parent-teacher meetings will occur between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm on the following dates:
These meetings will allow all parents to discuss their child’s progress. Meetings will take place via telephone. Further information, including how to book an appointment, will be emailed to all parents.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s progress or well-being, please contact the coordinating office by phone on 1300 287 629 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Assessment handbooks and scope and sequences
Assessment handbooks and scope and sequences are now available in Sentral via the parent portal (https://aurora.sentral.com.au/portal). These resources allow parents to further support their children by accessing timelines for formal assessment tasks and topic outlines of their courses.
With students returning to full on-campus learning this week attendance is an area that will be monitored closely by the NSW Department of Education and Aurora College. All students should be at school unless:
As you would be aware, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has indicated that they ROSA, Preliminary HSC, and HSC will continue as planned in 2020 with some minor adjustments. Parents need to be aware that this means students still need to attend school regularly to meet the course requirements of the ROSA, Preliminary HSC, and HSC. Student attendance is recorded in each lesson at Aurora. The coordinator or parents/caregivers are required to inform the coordinating office of Aurora College within seven days if a student is sick, or:
The Aurora College coordinating office may be reached by email at email@example.com or by telephone on 1300 287 629.
If students miss more than 15% of class, letters of concern (for Years 7-9) or N-Awards warning letters (for Years 10-12) will be sent home. This informs parents that the student is missing work and/or is at risk of not fulfilling course requirements.
Students on leave for extended periods
A Certificate of Exemption must be obtained from the Principal of your home school if the student plans to be on leave for extended periods. An example of when this may be required is when travelling overseas. In the case where a student is granted a Certificate of Exemption, Aurora College requires a copy to be forwarded to the coordinating office via the ACC. In order to meet course outcomes, students will still be required to complete assessment tasks and classwork as negotiated by the Head Teacher for each subject.
Home school excursions or events
Students involved in home school excursions, such as sports or swimming carnivals, must notify Aurora College via their ACC or their parents. This also applies to special events in schools where the students will be absent from their usual Aurora classes.
Extensions for assessment tasks
An extension for an assessment task may be granted in exceptional circumstances where students are unable to complete the task by the due date, because of illness or misadventure (eg: accident, unforeseen event). The illness/misadventure form must be completed and signed by the student, parent/guardian, and the Aurora College Coordinator. The coordinator will then email a scanned copy of the form to the classroom teacher and the relevant Head Teacher Curriculum. The completed form must be forwarded within 2 days of the request for the extension. The Head Teacher will review the application and any supporting documentation before deciding to uphold or decline the application. Each application is assessed independently, so it is important to attach comprehensive evidence.
If a student is absent from class on the day of an ‘in-class’ assessable task, they should have a completed illness/misadventure form with them when they return to school and should expect to complete the assessable item on their first day of return to Aurora College lessons.
What’s coming up?
Carolyn McMurtrie | Acting Deputy Principal
Masterclasses and professional learning
The lockdown didn’t prevent amazing online events from happening at Aurora. We continued to engage a range of professionals to speak with staff, students and parents in various capacities.
Did you know that the moon has 4G internet? Astrophysicist and Cosmologist, Dr Brad Tucker, spoke with Aurora students via Zoom on Thursday 14 May to two groups of approximately 100 students each about an amazing array of space-related topics. Each topic was accompanied by equally fascinating images and videos. Students loved this masterclass and were highly engaged – they asked great questions too. Other topics included the future of space exploration, the composition of the universe, time travel, teleportation and alien life forms.
Another masterclass on Tuesday 26th May was delivered by Guy Webb, father of an Aurora student, who gave up his time to speak with year 7-10 students from his lab in Forbes. He shared interesting information about climate science, graphs showing exponential changes in carbon dioxide levels and what his innovative start-up organisation is doing about it. With global investment and interest from various governing bodies, SoilCQuest 2031, is looking to store carbon in soils by using fungus and actively slow global warming. Guy inspired Aurora students to make a difference.
We continue to provide widespread access to high quality professional learning events online for government school staff across NSW. Recently, Lisa O’Neill from NESA addressed 200 teachers and leaders about changes to assessment during the time of COVID-19 restrictions. Feedback indicated that 95% or participants thought it was excellent, very good or good, with engaging delivery and relevant content resulting in three quarters of participants feeling much more confident in this area. One participant commented, ‘I always enjoy Aurora’s professional learning [sessions], they are always engaging
We have hosted a few parent webinars this year, one of which was accessing students reports. For a quick ‘how to’ guide on using Sentral, go to the Sentral Parent Portal Guide here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UTEhY-wI64&feature=emb_title. If you get stuck or have any questions registering for Sentral, please contact the wonderful IT team.
Dr Kristy Goodwin spoke with parents via Zoom on Tuesday 13th May at 7pm about ‘Raising kids in a screen world’. She shared evidence-based research, a few of her own parenting tips, answered questions and provided resources. All parents were sent a link to the recording, and below are links to relevant resources she recommended:
Kate Thompson | Head Teacher, Teaching & Learning
Aurora College e-mentoring program
The beginning of Term 2 saw the commencement or Aurora College’s e-Mentoring program for 2020. The program allows students to pair up with professionals from the outside community based on their future career aspirations as well as their interests.
Our mentors give guidance on everything from how to enter the workforce in your interested field to stress and time management. Our students always look forward to their mentoring sessions which are typically conducted every 2-4 weeks, primarily in the iSee 3D virtual environment.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor then please visit our website and submit an application. You can find this by following the link here. If you are a student and wish to participate in the program next year (2021), please fill in an EOI found here.
Connor Boyko| Rel. Head Teacher, Teaching and Learning
Faculty news – English, HSIE and Languages
This term, the Year 7 assessment required students to write an original and imaginative narrative where they incorporated all the important elements of storytelling. Their stories also needed to convey a sense of a particular culture or subculture.
Students were assessed on their ability to construct an effective narrative that used elements such as setting, plot, character and narrative voice. They also needed to use appropriate language forms and features to write in an engaging way and write with clarity and control of expression. Year 7 produced some wonderful and highly creative pieces of work encompassing many different ancient and contemporary cultures and sub-cultures from around the world.
Enjoy this selection:
This term, Year 8 have been learning about ‘The Hero’s Journey’. For their Assessment Task, they wrote an original narrative which incorporated the stages and archetypes of ‘The Hero’s Journey’ in under 1100 words.
Students were also assessed on their ability to create a well-structured narrative and use language forms and features such as imagery, dialogue, and characterisation. Year 8 produced many creative and original work samples in a variety of settings both ancient and modern. Following is a sample.
For the first Year 9 assessment task, students were required to submit an imaginative response that was written from the perspective of one of the characters from their focus text – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or Night by Elie Wiesel.
Students worked on developing a strong narrative voice and learnt to consider how events and experiences would shape a character’s point of view. Students were assessed on their ability to construct an effective narrative that used literary devices and stylistic features with sophistication. Please enjoy reading this selection of highly creative pieces that reflected the culture, issues and themes that were evident in their novels.
What makes non-fiction so compelling to read? It’s real life, told in interesting and creative ways. Creative non-fiction can range from the tragic to the comic and is compelling because we are connecting through shared human experiences.
Year 10 studied a range of creative non-fiction writing, looking at life writing, performance poetry, and satirical texts. Students examined the mechanics of these texts and tried to apply the techniques used by some of the most talented writers in the world in their own pieces. They had plenty of inspiration to draw from, whether the topic was drought, bushfires or social distancing! What you’re about to read is a selection of some of the most unique and compelling pieces our students produced.
Year 11 Advanced English
What makes a great writer? This was the question Year 11 were asked at the beginning of term. All great writers have heroes they aspire to emulate, and our Year 11 students spent Term 1 exploring elements of quality writing. They also explored what inspires beautiful compositions and used these techniques for their own work.
Students undertook the intensive and close reading of quality texts to further develop their skills and knowledge necessary to appreciate, understand, analyse and evaluate how and why texts convey complex ideas.
What you’re about to read are excerpts of our students considered and thoughtful writing and judicious reflection of their developing skills and knowledge as writers. We’re immensely proud of their work.
English Extension 1
The first module of work being studied in Year 11 Extension 1 English is Texts, Culture and Value. Students explore the ways in which aspects of texts from the past have been carried forward, borrowed from and/or appropriated into more recent cultures.
Throughout our study of the module, there is an emphasis on introducing students to different texts with the same conceptual focus. For our current 11 Extension English 1 cohort, the conceptual focus is on the ‘archetypal quest’. For their first assessment, students were asked to compose an archetypal quest narrative that demonstrated their understanding of the social function of quest narratives and their capacity for reinvention over time.
Luisa McDiarmid (Simeonidis) | Acting Head Teacher English, HSIE, and Languages
Faculty news – Science and Agriculture
The Year 10 classes of 2020 have recently completed an assessment task focusing on vaccination in science. Please click on the link below to view a sample.
We hope you enjoy watching these videos and learn some interesting facts and figures about vaccination.
Virginia Cluff | Head Teacher Science and Agriculture
Faculty news – Mathematics, Software Design and Development
As we quickly approach the middle of second term, this is the first opportunity I have had to introduce myself as the Relieving Head Teacher Mathematics and Software Design and Development. As many of you are aware, Mrs Kathy Howard is currently working with for the Department of Education on a curriculum project with rural and remote schools.
During the time as relieving head teacher, I will be based in my substantiative school of Belmont High in the Lake Macquarie area of Newcastle. I grew up in Wagga and Orange and completed my teaching degree in Bathurst. I taught for 12 years in country New South Wales in the remote and rural towns of Broken Hill, Warren and Yeoval, before moving to the coast for family reasons. After some time as a Deputy Principal I returned to the classroom. The opportunity to work with rural and remote students again was too much to pass up and I look forward to seeing our students both online and at residential school (we hope) later in the year.
Our Years 7 -10 students have just completed their second assessment task for the year and the Mathematics faculty are busy marking them to ensure we can utilise these results as part of our semester one reports. After 6 weeks in this role, I can honestly say I have never seen a school where the staff (of all faculties) work so hard to help students by providing quick quality feedback to assessment and class work.
Our Year 11 students will shortly receive their next round of assessment tasks. I look forward to seeing the results and the progress these students have made in preparing for their HSC year. In reality, we have finished half of the Year 11 course already. Year 12 students are now thinking about how they best prepare for their final sets of tasks and getting ready for the final run into their HSC. Despite the difficulties of the last few months, I am very confident in the quality of results the students of Aurora College will produce.
Scott New | Acting Head Teacher Mathematics, Software Design and Development
Learning and support
According to the Cambridge English dictionary mindfulness is:
“the practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm”
What is mindfulness? https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/wellbeing/
When we are being mindful, we simply allow our thoughts to come and go. We don’t need to question or judge what’s happening in our thoughts. If we can cultivate this ability to observe our thoughts as simply thoughts without ‘buying in’ to them, we can free ourselves of our tendency to overthink and be critical of ourselves and others.
How does mindfulness help us?
Our lives are so fast and full of stresses and distractions, it’s easy to run on autopilot (mindlessly) and become agitated by all the conflicting thoughts and buzz in our heads. Mindfulness helps us stop getting caught up in thinking about the past or worrying about the future. It helps us slow down and be in the ‘now’.
Mindfulness can change the way our brain and nervous system function. It can allow our parasympathetic nervous system to take over and place us in a state of rest, healing and restoration. When people practice mindfulness, they are able to achieve lasting positive changes to their wellbeing.
A fact sheet on mindfulness in everyday life can be downloaded from here.
Bite Back, the Black Dog Institute’s mental health and wellbeing site for youth. https://www.biteback.org.au/Explore
This site allows teens to complete quizzes, explore mindfulness activities, and read real stories. Here you will find:
Did you know there are two ways you can practice mindfulness?
One for the younger students
Please explore some of these resources and see how practising mindfulness may be beneficial to you and your family.
Cathy Groth | Wellbeing Coordinator
Wellbeing tips and resources for senior students during COVID-19
The Aurora Book Club launched in iSee this term! Students in Years 7-10 are trialling this space to talk about books and meet with other keen readers.
During Book Club time we talk about our favourite books, new releases, and what’s new in the Aurora College Digital Library for ebooks and audiobooks.
Students are to meet in the iSee lecture hall on a Thursday from 1.20 pm.
Announcements related to the Aurora College Digital Library are being posted in the Aurora College Students Team. So far this term, there has been information shared with students related to digital resources we subscribe to, author readings, and writing competitions students may like to enter.
Please encourage your child to access the Aurora College Students Team to keep up to date with these announcements.
Aurora College Reading Challenge
The 2020 Aurora College Reading Challenge is open to all Aurora College students and staff. A total of eight (8) books are to be read, one from each of the categories listed here.
The Challenge concludes on Tuesday, 1 December 2020. All entries are to be emailed to our teacher-librarian: firstname.lastname@example.org
To recommend resources for our digital library, it is as easy as sending me an email (email@example.com), with a subject, book title or author’s name: this is our school library – student and staff contributions are most welcome.
Kaylene Taylor | Teacher Librarian
Makayla joins the NSW Youth Advisory Council
The NSW Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People advised Makayla (Year 8, Young High School) last week that she has been accepted to take part in The NSW Youth Advisory Council. The Council meets regularly throughout the year to discuss a range of relevant topics, as well as monitoring and evaluating youth-related policies and legislation which affect young people.
The 12 Council members, aged between 12 and 24, come from all over the state and are broadly representative of the diversity of young people living in NSW. Members of the NSW Youth Advisory Council:
Well done, Makayla!
Why saying sorry isn’t enough
Joseph (Year 10, Hay War Memorial High School) was selected by the NSW Department of Education to write about his feelings on National Sorry Day.
Published here on the Department’s website, Joseph explains why he believes National Sorry Day should have a higher profile in the community.
Joseph is a proud Wiradjuri man from Hay. In a very poignant article, he wrote “Reflecting on Sorry Day makes me think of my Elders and what they endured.”
Joseph was a welcome addition to our school in Year 9 in 2019.
Future Bright Lights
If your child has a passion outside of our virtual classrooms, please feel free to email us a few words and an image. It is always lovely to celebrate what our students are up to in their local communities! Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org, marked: attention The Auracle.
Spotlight on… Elizabeth Hooper
Most recently, I was teaching at Auburn Girls High School in Sydney’s Western Suburbs. It was a beautiful community with a lot of care shown for each other.
What is your local community like?
I have just moved to Lane Cove, where Mowbray Public School / Aurora HQ is based. I have only just moved here with my cat but so far I am loving how green it is and how easily I can walk to see the water. I rented my flat based solely on the beautiful gumtree I can see from my balcony.
What’s your favourite subject to teach?
I love English. I have also had the privilege of teaching History, Geography, Maths, and Science which I love as well and studied each at university in some capacity, but English holds an extra warm place in my heart. I really believe that the richest thing in life is learning from other people’s experiences and learning to express yourself. English as a subject teaches both these things. I believe that it is so special to be able to teach about how films, books, poetry, and other media tell people’s stories as well as teaching the skills for students to express themselves. I feel very lucky that I get to teach about humans as my job.
What do you like about teaching at Aurora?
I think it’s really special to be a part of a geographically diverse community. I have enjoyed the genuine warmth I have felt from all the staff and I think it’s exciting to get the chance to offer special learning experiences for students across all of NSW.
What are your other interests?
My favourite thing is to go to the movies. I love the excitement when the lights go down and the fun of getting to know some new characters and see how they develop and the anticipation of what could happen to them. My favourites are zombie movies and anything by Taika Waititi or Jordan Peele. I am also passionate about good pastry and love to go for a coffee and sweets.