The Auracle – Volume 43, August 2020

From the Principal’s desk

The August edition of The Auracle is always a personal favourite, as it comes with our congratulations and salutations to the new Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 students who will be joining our school next year. Welcome! As we like to say at Aurora, you have found your tribe.

The NSW selective high school placement process for this year has concluded and I am pleased to report that our 2021 Year 7 cohort will comprise 100 students from 50 schools. A further 43 students from 30 schools were successful in gaining places in Years 8 to 10. Our students and staff look forward to working with you in the years to come.

The locations of our new (2021) Years 7 to 10 students. Welcome to Aurora!

The map at right shows the locations of our new students. At this stage in our enrolment process, our school will share students with 16 schools in 2021 that have not previously partnered with Aurora. I would like to thank our parent representative in this process, Tim Hart, father of Eden Hart in Year 7 at Bowral High School.

Applications for Year 11 are open now and close on Friday 23 October 2020. Students may choose to study one or more of the following Preliminary subjects with Aurora: Biology; Chemistry; Physics; Agriculture; Mathematics Advanced; Mathematics Extension 1; English Advanced; English Extension 1; Italian Beginners; Japanese Beginners; Korean Beginners; Software Design and Development; Economics; Geography; Modern History; and Legal Studies. For further information, please visit

The final enrolment process this year will be the selection of students for our first Year 5 Opportunity Class. In complying  with the latest advice from NSW Health to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmissions, I am advised that the Department’s Opportunity Class Placement Test will now take place at the current school of applicants, rather than in examination centres. To allow this change to be made, the test date is now Wednesday 18 November 2020. Only students whose parents have received a confirmation email from the High Performing Students Team are eligible to sit the test on the new date. The application portal will not be re-opened for new applications.

Education Week is an annual celebration of NSW public education and the achievements of local schools and students. This year, Education Week ran from Monday 3 August to Friday 7 August 2020 and the theme was ‘Learning together’. The theme reflects an incredible year for NSW public school students, staff and parents, and the partnerships that have been strengthened in response.

In a strong endorsement of our school, Aurora was chosen for the third time to feature in the annual video for Education Week. This year, Leo (Year 6), Cormac (Year 6), Anneliese (Year 7), Mali (Year 8) and Zoe (Year 11) were our stars. Enjoy!

The NSW Department of Education continues to work closely with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), NSW Health and other agencies to ensure our schools continue to operate in the safest ways possible during the COVID environment. Updated advice for families may be accessed at

In accordance with advice from NSW Health, parents and carers are reminded NOT to send children to school if they are unwell, even if they have the mildest flu-like symptoms. Schools will make arrangements for students who present as unwell or have flu-like symptoms to be sent home.

NSW Health have requested that schools encourage anyone who is unwell or has even mild flu-like symptoms, to arrange to be tested through their local medical practitioner or one of the COVID-19 clinics. Students and staff with flu-like symptoms will need to provide a copy of a negative COVID-19 test result before being permitted to return to school.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and following consultations with the Department’s Executive, last week I made the decision to cancel our Term 4 Residential School that was to be held in Canberra for students in Years 7 to 10. As per my email to all students and their parents, in making the decision, I considered the health risks that such an event would pose to students, staff and members of the public.

The Aurora team is currently planning an alternative virtual program for implementation in Week 3 of Term 4. This will include some scheduled Aurora lessons, masterclasses and special activities. I share the disappointment of our community that we won’t be enjoying a ‘res’ in Canberra, however, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by all that we will offer in replacement. Watch this space for further details on iRes 2020.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Carolyn McMurtrie and Serena McLean, who were successful in the merit selection processes for the positions of Deputy Principal and Assistant Principal, respectively. In addition, the following classroom teachers were successful in gaining permanent full-time positions with our school: Fiona Boneham (Science); Silvia Rudmann (Science); and Helen Spencer (Mathematics). Congratulations to our very talented colleagues!

Enjoy reading another great edition of The Auracle.

Chris Robertson | Principal

Back to top

Deputy Principal’s report

Trial HSC examinations and the HSC

Trial HSC exams are now in full swing in most schools and students are under considerable stress during this period.  For further information on coping strategies for exam stress, click on the following link to access some helpful strategies from REACH OUT.

Students and their parents should also note that an enormous amount of growth can happen following the Trial HSC examinations and how important this growth will be for HSC examination results. I wish all Year 12 students the best of luck with their examinations.

Please note: Preliminary Yearly Examinations begin in Week 8.  These examinations will be an opportunity for Year 11 students to further develop the necessary skills in preparation for their HSC year.

Star Aurora College Coordinator

This term the star ACC goes to William Zsigmond, at The Rivers Secondary College, Lismore High Campus, for his high level of communication and commitment to his Aurora College students. William has continued to go above and beyond in support of his students.

Leadership Conference

Our leadership conference last term needed to be moved to an online forum. The leadership conference allows us to welcome Aurora’s leaders and aspiring leaders from around NSW to focus on implementing the school plan. This conference focused on learning intentions and success criteria.

Learning intentions and success criteria are developed by the teacher and/or the student and describe what success looks like. They help the teacher and student to make judgements about the quality of student learning. Wide-ranging research shows that students who regularly receive this information in the classroom are:

  • more focused for longer periods of time
  • more motivated and active in their learning
  • better able to take responsibility for their own learning.

Faculties are now working on embedding learning intentions and success criteria into programs and lessons so that students and staff can clearly monitor their own learning and areas that may need further development.

Our next leadership conference in week 6 this term will again be online over 2 days and the focus will be on areas such as the SOLO taxonomy, the High Potential and Gifted Education Policy, as well as forward planning with the next school plan cycle.

Subject selection process

The process of selecting subjects and developing timetables for 2021 is now in full swing in most schools. Students in Year 10 will be making subject selection choices for Years 11 and 12. If your child is unable to study a subject or subjects in Year 11 or 12 at their home school, or if they wish to continue their studies through Aurora College, further information can be accessed on our website:

Communicating with Aurora

If any of our students are in need of support, their first point of contact is usually the Aurora College Coordinator. If students are absent for an assessment, not understanding assessment guidelines or not understanding classwork, they are encouraged to communicate directly with their teachers. Parents who would like to contact your child’s teacher to discuss any concerns can do so by contacting the coordinating office by phone on 1300 287 629 or email at

Finally, a reminder that parents are able to access their child’s attendance records via the Sentral portal. Please contact the office if there is a discrepancy that needs to be corrected.

What’s coming up later?

  • Year 11 Preliminary Examinations commence on Monday 7 September until Friday 18 September 2020.
  • Year 12 reports issued Monday 7 September 2020
  • Term 4 Aurora classes commence on Monday 12 October 2020.

Carolyn McMurtrie | Deputy Principal

Back to top

Opportunity class pilot

Our Stage 3 students recently concluded their unit in Science, researching the Australian Dairy Industry. They have investigated the sustainable approaches that have been used to bring dairy products from the farm to their plates. They were asked to design, create, and test an interactive educational product to inform the public about the sustainable efforts the Australian Dairy Industry is making. Sarah created a podcast to showcase her knowledge and understanding. Daisy and Sarah were able to use flowcharts in their ideation phase of the design thinking process.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


As we delved into the dark depths of the Solar System, we enjoyed a masterclass with Dr Brad Tucker, from the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Many partner schools joined our session to support their teaching of the science and technology syllabus outcomes linked to Earth and Space. Brad left us in awe as he shared his immense knowledge and expertise. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions or to ignite their passion. We all have a renewed love for our solar system and its hidden secrets.

Serena McLean | Assistant Principal

Back to top

Technology support

Absence notifications

Last year, we developed a Notification System to assist in collecting information on student absences. This system has now been enabled once again for 2020.

Any student who is marked absent for an entire class will have a message sent to their parents, either via SMS or email, with a request to explain the absence. This message includes a link to a web portal allowing parents to quickly reply with the reason for the absence, which then gets automatically emailed to our office staff. The attendance records are then updated with the correct absence reason. Under Department of Education policy, any absence not explained within seven days is automatically marked as unjustified, and could have further consequences for your child’s learning.

For absences that are for only part of a class, an email is sent to students requesting an explanation. The provided explanation is then sent to the Aurora College Coordinator for verification before it can be entered into our attendance records. Explanations that are rejected by the Aurora College Coordinator are forwarded to our truancy officer for investigation.

In all these situations, it is important to use the links provided in the SMS or email to provide a reason. Our system is unable to receive responses via SMS or email. If you are having difficulties with the links, please feel free to call the school on 1300 287 629 to provide an explanation for the absence, and let us know of the issue so we can investigate.  It is our aim to make this system as easy to use as possible for everyone, so we will follow up on all issues. We are aware that on some phones, the link does not allow you to click on it directly, but you should be able to copy the link and paste it into the browser yourself.

If you would like further information on the system, or have any issues you would like to discuss, please feel free to email us at or call on 1300 610 733.


Stocktake for 2020 starts this week. From Monday 24 August, all students will need to present their Aurora College devices to their ACC for checking. Due to changes in the Department’s asset management system, all devices must be sighted by end of school on Friday 4 September. Having your device checked for stocktake should take no more than two minutes, as your ACC only needs to verify the serial number or asset number, and report it to us.

Emails have been sent to all staff, students, and Aurora College Coordinators with instructions on how to complete the stocktake. If you have any questions about the process, or need some help with your checks, please contact us as soon as possible.

Ben Hillsley | Learning Technologies Support Officer

Back to top

Faculty news – English, HSIE and Languages

Year 7

In Term 2, Year 7 thoroughly enjoyed delving into the virtual world of Minecraft when creating their own unique fantasy worlds as part of Assessment Task 2. In preparing for their assessment, students’ time was split between composing perfectly structured essays, exploring the conventions of the fantasy genre and letting their creativity flow by crafting spectacular and otherworldly realms either in Minecraft or alternatively with Lego or in a diorama. Year 7 teachers were thoroughly impressed by the students’ talent, imagination, and ability to transport us to a fantasy world where anything can happen.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Students in Mrs Taylor’s 7ENG6 have been unpacking the delicacies and deliciousness of the English language as composed by William Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For many students, this was their first taste of the works of Shakespeare. His plays were designed for performance – so what better way to understand a play than to perform it?

iSee, the Aurora College Virtual Playground, includes a lecture theatre and we claimed it as our classroom while we virtually walked and worked through the play. As a small troupe, many class members had multiple character parts to deliver. We worked against the tradition of Shakespeare’s time and had male and female actors portraying The Athenians, The Mechanicals, and The Fairies. For a play steeped in rich mythology; Greek and English, we were able to quickly change settings via the screens in iSee to represent Athens and the magical forest.

Students improved on their skills in using iSee very quickly and were able to virtually interact with peers from across rural and remote NSW as part of core classwork. The ability to engage with a play on a virtual stage in real-time with students was also teaching first for me. It gave a greater insight into the staging of A Midsummers Night’s Dream, along with a deeper, personal understanding of the lines and how to deliver them for students.

7Eng 6 performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Aurora’s iSee lecture theatre


Year 8

In Term 2, Year 8 students enjoyed experimenting with a variety of different writing styles as part of their Writing Portfolio. These writing samples include fiction and non-fiction texts and have enabled students to practise persuasive techniques and use mood, tone and humour in fiction. Year 8 teachers have been very impressed with the developing talents of the students in their fiction and non-fiction texts.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Year 9

Throughout the Term, Year 9 students have been exploring the culture, values, and varied experiences of Aboriginal Australians through a focus on poetry and non-fiction texts. Through their study of a range of Aboriginal composers they have been able to develop their own perspective and insight, culminating in a multimodal representation that conveyed the ideas and values of a chosen poem. These highly engaging representations demonstrate the students ability to employ a range of techniques to effectively highlight ideas and enhance the depth of meaning.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Want to interact with these Multimodal texts? Have a look at the following:


Year 11 Advanced English

Narratives That Shape Our World

Stories and storytelling play a powerful role in reflecting the ideas, attitudes and values of a given context. Narratives have power in their ability to connect experiences, and expose, affirm or question cultural beliefs and practices. A speculative narrative is a form of storytelling that has the potential to shape our perceptions of our world. The focus of this unit for Year 11 was to explore how composers have used narratives to create speculative worlds as metaphors for the fears, desires, and concerns of their own contexts. We completed a comparative study of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaids Tale and the film V for Vendetta and our assessment was a multimodal text that embedded a discursive podcast on the relevance of speculative fiction.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Want to interact with these Multimodal texts? Have a look at the following:


Year 11 English Extension 1

In Term 2, Year 11 Extension English students worked tirelessly on their Independent Research Projects to produce excellent and thoroughly researched presentations. Students produced sophisticated and detailed multimedia presentations to accompany the oral component. Students had to address the concept of the ‘archetypal quest’ and explore how archetypal settings, characters and themes have been manifested within several texts from different contexts. Students compared the texts and sought to explain why certain ideas transcend time and remain relevant to audiences over time.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Year 12 English Extension 2

English Extension 2 requires students to create a substantial and original Major Work. Myka has decided to write a short story for her Major Work which requires 5,000-6,000 words, and she has based this on her exploration into the inquiry question of How do people’s environments shape their morality and application of ethics? Essentially, looking at people through a philosophical and anthropological lens to understand how people are impacted by external factors, and therefore react to them. As part of the process in writing the major work, Myka has had to critically review a variety of literature that has used influenced her short story. Below is the critical literature review that has influenced Myka and her writing.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Luisa McDiarmid (Simeonidis) | Relieving Head Teacher English, HSIE, and Languages

Back to top

Masterclasses and professional learning

Parent webinar

Dr. Ruth Phillips spoke to parents about evidence-based approaches to supporting their young high potential children on Tuesday night 11 August. She shared her own experiences and fielded relevant questions about gifted children and their need to be challenged, supported, and guided in ways that help elicit the best responses. Thank you to Serena McLean, Assistant Principal, who hosted the event.

If you are interested in learning more about parenting of gifted children, GERRIC at the UNSW School of Education has an eight-part series available over Zoom in September. You are able to participate in a live session or watch the recordings later if the time doesn’t suit. For more information, visit

Gifted Parenting Series

Click here to find out what’s in the series

Find out more about each presentation here.

Kate Thompson | Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

Back to top

Learning and support

Resources for HSC students, Study Skills and Self-Care tips

With 2020 rapidly passing us by and the HSC trial exams, final preliminary exams and course assessment tasks looming, it is a good time to reassess our approaches to study, finding a good study life balance and taking care of ourselves physically and mentally. In earlier issues we have covered topics related to mindfulness and its advantages. This issue will focus on resources to support our students as they navigate their way through this phase of their schooling.

Last week, our Learning Support and Wellbeing website was launched. Explore this site with your child – it is accessed through their DOE G Suite app. There is information relevant to all Aurora students, from OC through to HSC.


Study Skills

  • ELES Study Skills Handbook has some excellent resources for students to enhance their learning potential including time management, goal setting, home study environment and organisation. (User name and password: auroracollege)
  • Reach Out has some excellent topics to help with study tips and dealing with exam stress.
  • Kids Helpline also has some excellent pages for Kids 5-12 and Teens.

Self-Care Tips

Cathy Groth | Wellbeing Coordinator

Back to top

Library news

Premier’s Reading Challenge – Entries CLOSE soon

The PRC is offered at Aurora College for students in Years 6-9. All reading logs need to be submitted by 28 August 2020 to Mrs. Taylor for validation. All students who complete the PRC for 2020 with Aurora College, or with their home school, are asked to email a copy of their reading log, so an Astra can also be awarded as part of our school merit system. Email PRC reading logs to

Aurora Book Club

The Aurora Book Club continues for students in Years 7-10 in Term Three. During book club, we talk about our favourite books, new releases, and what’s new in the Aurora College Digital Library for ebooks and audiobooks. Students meet in the iSee lecture hall on a Thursday from 1:20 pm. Students have been encouraged to complete a short survey here to assist with future planning. If your child is an avid reader and would be interested in a virtual book club, please ask them to complete the survey.

Reading via OLIVER, SORA or ePlatform?

Has your child been reading more lately? I know, in these uncertain times, that I have been escaping into the worlds created by authors more often of late – I spent a few nights last week in Forks with the Cullens (Midnight Sun), went to Bayview to solve a mystery involving Bronwyn, Simon, Nate, Cooper and Addy (One of us is Lying), and then escaped to Queensland with Erin as she finished Year 12 and moved into the next phase of her young adult life (Please Don’t Hug Me).

Our digital school library can be accessed in its entirety via OLIVER in student portals. Students can also access parts of the collection via the SORA App (US-based) or the ePlatform App (NZ based). Access details were provided in the last issue of The Auracle. If your child needs support, please ask them to contact me via email.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Library guides

A collection of video guides is being curated for Aurora students on our website here. This is a great reminder of how to access resources in our digital library, such as ClickView and Cosmos Magazine. Our digital resources, including ebooks and audiobooks, are available to students and staff 24/7 – we are always open!

Recommending resources

To recommend resources for our digital library, it is as easy as sending me an email (, with a subject, book title or author’s name. This is our school library, so student and staff contributions are most welcome!

Kaylene Taylor | Teacher Librarian |

Back to top

The ‘res’ that never was

The cancellation of ‘the Term 4 Residential School has been hard for all of us here at Aurora. Year 9 student, Maya Wicks, composed this amazing poem about the ‘res’ that never was.

Back to top

Bright lights

Madeline Evans has recently had the opportunity to participate in the virtual NASA Space School. We hear she had an absolute blast! Congratulations, Madeline.

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:, marked: attention The Auracle.

Back to top

Spotlight on… Christianna Elliott

Where was your previous teaching appointment?

I started my teaching career at Willyama High School in Broken Hill in 2013, so I’m definitely not unfamiliar with the ‘wild west’ of NSW! Since that first year though, I have worked with Karabar Distance Education Centre and now Finigan School of Distance Education – both located in Queanbeyan, next door to the ACT.

What is your local community like?

My local community can be quite complex, as there’s so many layers! Queanbeyan is where my school is situated, and it’s your average river-fronting regional town, where many come through on their way to the mountains in the winter or the coast during the summer. However, I actually live in Canberra and make the commute across the state border every morning – think of images of Parliament House, Lake Burley Griffin, and many public servants! In distance education though, my students can be anywhere from around the corner to the furthest reaches of our globe. Needless to say, my local community has many layers – like an onion.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

English, of course! I’m also trained in History and Society and Culture though, so I always find a way to build-in aspects of humanities and our society into our study of language and texts.

What do you like about teaching at Aurora?

The students that I have the privilege to work with every day! They make me laugh, and they challenge my thinking, and they teach me more about niche pockets of our society every time we meet.

What are your other interests?

In my spare time, you’ll find me – trawling the internet for funny videos of cats, going on adventures here and overseas, watching too much reality television, listening to audiobooks, or eating really good food at local restaurants.

Back to top

Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts at Aurora College

Aurora College is excited to announce that three of our teachers have been selected as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEE) in 2020/ 2021:

  • Helen Spencer (Mathematics)
  • Trudy Spargo (Science)
  • Virginia Cluff (Head Teacher, Science)

This program is an exclusive global community that paves the way for peers to share ideas, try new approaches, and learn from each other. Microsoft describes the opportunity as follows:

You will be joining a group of some of the most amazing educators who are empowering the students of today to create the world of tomorrow. At Microsoft, we believe that technology alone cannot build 21st-century skills for students. It is an accelerator, but the power of change lies within educators. That is why we bring changemakers, like yourself, together to recognize and grow your achievements.

You have been chosen as an MIE Expert because you are self-driven, passionate about your work, have true collaborative spirit, and strive to inspire students with outside-the-box thinking on technology in education. We appreciate your resourcefulness and entrepreneurial spirit. As agents of change, you have achieved excellence in education, using technology and social media. We are grateful for the opportunity to tap into your enthusiasm and enable others to benefit from what is clearly your passion.

Aurora is fortunate to have such innovative teachers as staff members.  We are excited to see the new and exciting ways that technology can be used to enhance student learning across Aurora.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back to top

Me, My Culture and NSW Competition Years 7-12

Woke has partnered with Multicultural NSW to create the ‘Me, My Culture and NSW’ competition. This is an opportunity for young people to celebrate diversity, share their culture and join us in combating cultural stereotypes and racism.

General information
All entries must focus on the topics of celebrating diversity and different cultures and/or battling cultural stereotypes and racism. Competitors can do this in a variety of ways, such as by sharing personal stories about their culture, their own experiences with racism or their family’s or friends’ experience. Competitors can also talk about the harmful effects of racism and the importance of celebrating diversity as a whole.


  • Film: Short films between 1 to 2:30 minutes.
  • Writing: Poetry, creative writing and opinion pieces – max 600 words.
  • Photography: Single photograph, a collection of photos or a collage.

The competition is open to all high school students and/or any 12-19-year-old studying or living in NSW. All entries must be submitted with the approval of parents and/or guardians if under 18.

For each category: (film, photography, writing)
1st Prize – $300
2nd Prize – $200
3rd Prize – $100

All winning entries will be published on Woke’s website in a special edition.

Closing date: 3rd of October, 11:59pm (AEST).
More information: All the information can be found here, including conditions of entry and guidelines.


Back to top

Scholarship opportunities

Australian Youth Aerospace Leader Scholarship

Are you interested in the aerospace industry? Applications are now open for multiple scholarships for interested students in years 10-12. The Australian Youth Aerospace Leader Scholarships close on the 14th of September 2020. Applications are to be submitted through the AYAA website using following link If students have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact














St Andrew’s College Scholarship

Applications by Year 12 students for the St Andrew’s Scholars Program are closing on 31 August 2020. The scholarships offered as part of the Program provide full fee relief and are awarded for the entire duration of each student’s undergraduate degree. These scholarships have enabled many students to realise their aspiration of studying at the University of Sydney (or another university in metropolitan Sydney).

To be eligible, students must:

  1. Intend to study full-time at one of Sydney’s universities (including the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney and the University of NSW) next year;
  2. Be an Australian or New Zealand citizen/permanent resident or the holder of an Australian humanitarian visa;
  3. Be available for an interview with the selection panel in Sydney on 25 – 26 September 2020

COVID-19 exemption: Ordinarily, applicants are also required to have a predicted ATAR of 95+ to be eligible to apply for the Scholars Program. However, if an applicant’s Year 12 studies have been detrimentally affected by the pandemic, the Selection Panel may deem it appropriate to lower the ATAR threshold commensurate with the detriment suffered.

Applications for the Scholars Program will close on 31 August 2020. Students are also required to complete a general application for admission to College to be considered for this program.

Students can read about some of the benefits of collegiate experience (as distinct from living in high-density accommodation) here.

Public Education Scholarship: 

A range of scholarship opportunities are now available through the Public Education Foundation:

Primary Scholarships

Secondary Scholarships

Applications for Secondary scholarships close midnight 15th September, and for the Primary School Scholarships, 22nd September.


Back to top


Print Friendly, PDF & Email