Following a number of COVID-19 imposed false starts, this week we were very pleased to welcome to our new office, a great supporter of Aurora, Sharon Ford.
Many of you will know that in 2014, I had the privilege of working with Sharon (then Director of Secondary Education) to establish and operationalise Aurora College. Sharon was our honoured guest on Monday at the Lindfield Learning Village in a brief ceremony to officially open Aurora HQ.
I am sure that many of our older students will also remember the keynote address made by Sharon at our Residential School in October 2019. Without Sharon’s vision, leadership and ongoing support, the enormous benefits that students and staff enjoy while learning and teaching at Aurora College would not be possible. The words of wisdom and sage advice that Sharon offered our students and staff on that occasion are as relevant now as they were in 2019. I invite you to enjoy Sharon’s keynote address here.
In the previous edition of The Auracle, I shared with you the excellent HSC results earned by our 2021 Year 12 cohort. You will recall that our top-performing student, Zoe Jenkins, studied 8 units of her HSC with Aurora and was rewarded with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 98.5. On Friday 18 March, I had the great pleasure of attending a ceremony at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to see Zoe inducted as a 2022 Co-op Scholar.
The UNSW Co-op Program (https://www.coop.unsw.edu.au/) is a prestigious and highly competitive career development scholarship for high potential undergraduate students. Co-op Scholars have the opportunity to see the world through international exchange, international placements, and international policy scholarships. Zoe received her scholarship for the Co-op Business Program. We wish Zoe and her peers from the class of 2021 every success in their tertiary studies and future careers. We also look forward to a plentiful supply of masterclasses in a wide range of endeavours, delivered by our growing Aurora alumni! Connect locally and learn globally.
Aside from providing a broad range of curriculum opportunities for Aurora’s own bright lights, our school’s purpose includes helping to support rural and remote education more broadly, by providing opportunities for students and staff in NSW public schools that would otherwise be difficult to access. We achieve this through a range of programs and initiatives, which include:
HSC Study Days: This program provides an opportunity for HSC classes in any NSW Department of Education school (rural, remote or metropolitan) to connect and revise with other students from across the state. A range of subject experts, experienced teachers and HSC markers help students in their final preparations for HSC examinations. The 2022 program will include study days for 13 HSC courses.
e-Safety Program: In collaboration with the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner, Aurora hosts regular webinars for primary school students on safe and respectful online behaviour. Each year we are joined by tens of thousands of public school students for presentations on topics which include: A Safer Internet; and the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.
Professional Learning: Aurora College teachers are regularly joined by colleagues from across the state as we connect with the highest-quality presenters and develop all aspects of our professional practice.
Rural Youth Ambassador Program: This program develops the aspirations and leadership skills of young people in rural and remote communities. As the Country Education Partnership’s partner in NSW, Aurora College has supported this highly regarded national program since 2020.
Each year since the program’s inception, Year 11 students at Aurora College have been successful in their nominations to join the Rural Youth Ambassador Program. Two of our 2021 Rural Youth Ambassadors, Dinara and Laura, recently returned from the National Forum in Albury/Wodonga. You can hear about their experiences here: https://youtu.be/EZyrV8A3jQo.
Do you know a Year 4 student in your local community who would benefit from Aurora’s virtual Opportunity Class program? The application process for Year 5 opportunity class placement for entry in 2023 is about to begin. Important dates in the application process are as follows:
Tuesday 26 April 2022: Online applications open
Friday 13 May 2022: Online applications close (Parents and carers must apply by the due date.)
Tuesday 17 May 2022: Principals' processing site opens
Friday 3 June 2022: Principals' processing site closes
Thursday 28 July 2022: Opportunity Class Placement Test.
As I write this article, extreme weather events continue to batter our state. Families on our North Coast, in particular, have experienced recent hardship and loss. I would like to remind all families that Aurora College can assist families in need with the costs associated with educating their children. Applications to the Aurora College Student Assistance Fund are highly confidential and may be made by contacting the office by telephone on 1300 287 629 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Robertson | Principal
Deputy Principal's report
Our thoughts are once again with the communities, families, students and staff who have been impacted by the recent flooding. Please be assured that Aurora College is working to support those who need it at this time. If you have any concerns in relation to your child and their studies being impacted by this event, please feel free to contact the appropriate staff or the Aurora College office.
Education in NSW is compulsory for all children between the ages of six years and below the minimum school leaving age. Once enrolled, children and young people are required to attend school each day it is open for students.
Student attendance is recorded in each lesson at Aurora. Parents/caregivers are required to inform the coordinating office of Aurora College within seven days if a student is sick, or:
has an unavoidable medical or dental appointment
is required to attend a recognised religious holiday
is required to attend an exceptional or urgent family circumstance
Aurora College Coordinators are required to inform the coordinating office of Aurora College within seven days if a student:
has a home school commitment including school excursions, school carnivals etc.
arrives late or leaves early from an Aurora lesson at a time which has not been negotiated and does not appear on his/her timetable plan.
If a student's attendance is unsatisfactory, Letters of Concern (for Years 5-9) or N-Award 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
Principals, Directors Educational Leadership and Executive Directors may grant exemptions from attendance at school due to:
exceptional circumstances (including the health of the student where sick leave or alternative enrolment is not appropriate)
the child being prevented from attending school because of a direction under the Public Health Act
employment in the entertainment industry
participation in elite arts or elite sporting events.
Parents are encouraged to travel during school holidays. Absences related to travel contribute to your child's total absences and may place at risk the award of relevant NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) credentials.
Home school excursions or events
Students involved in home school excursions, such as sports or swimming carnivals, must notify Aurora College via their ACC. 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 copy of the form to the classroom teacher and 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 must have a completed illness/misadventure form when they return to school and should expect to complete the assessable item on their first day of return to Aurora College lessons.
Residential school Term 4
Planning for our second residential school program is well underway. It will be held in Canberra at Canberra Park for Years 5 to 8 and Eaglehawk Ibis Styles for Years 9 and 10, from Monday 24 October to Friday 28 October. Details will be forwarded to parents and students early in Term 3.
These were issued via email for new students only on Thursday 7 April 2022.
This interim report indicates how your child has begun the new academic year, identifying areas in which he or she might require further attention or support. The report also provides an opportunity for parents to make contact with teachers in each subject about a student's progress.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s progress or wellbeing, please contact the coordinating office by phone on 1300 287 629 or email email@example.com
Assessment handbooks and Scope and Sequences
Assessment handbooks and scope and sequences are available via the school website. This will allow parents to further support their children by accessing timelines for formal assessment tasks and topic outlines of each subject.
What’s coming up next term?
School holidays begin Saturday 9/4/22
Term 2 Aurora lessons begin Wednesday 27/4/22
Parent webinar ‘Managing stress and anxiety – Kathryn Berkett’ 2/5/22 at 7 pm
Year 12 academic reports issued by 9/5/22
Year 12 parent teacher interviews pm 18/5/22
Year 11 academic reports issued by 3/6/22
Year 11 parent teacher interviews pm 8/6/22
Year 5-10 academic reports issued by 21/6/22
Year 5, 7 and 9 parent teacher interviews pm 27/6/22
Year 6, 8 and 10 parent teacher interviews pm 28/6/22
Carolyn McMurtrie | Deputy Principal
Communitiy liaison visits
Community liaison visits are back in 2022. With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and visitors being allowed back on school sites, we are planning and working towards visiting our partner schools across New South Wales.
So far this term we have visited Parkes High School and Narrabri High School with more visits planned soon.
Visits are arranged to allow us to meet with the Aurora College Coordinator and Science Practical Teacher, check on technology and check on th egeneral wellbeing of our shared students. We are also able to meet with parents (by arrangement) on the day of the visit.
We hope to visit many schools in Term2, so keep an eye out on our Facebook page to see the photos and stories as we travel across the state.
ICAS and Chem Quiz nominations
ICAS is an independent, skills-based assessment program. ICAS recognises and rewards student achievement in areas such as English, maths, science, spelling, writing and digital technologies. The series of tests are designed to match and test skills that are learned in the school classroom. These tests are updated annually to ensure that they accurately measure levels of understanding and capabilities in different subject areas.
An email was sent last week asking parents to nominate their child to participate in the competitions offered in 2022. If you have not yet registered, please use this link: https://forms.office.com/r/bgj1bcXTWq
Parent webinar - Platforms in use at Aurora College
In Week 7, I hosted a parent webinar exploring the platforms and technology our students access at Aurora College. We took a look at Teams, Outlook, Microsoft 365, OneNote, Stile, Canvas, and our online textbook library, Box of Books.
As we are still experiencing a range of disruptions, from floods to COVID-19, we will be continuing to host lessons using the Microsoft Teams platform for Term 2.
Virginia Cluff | Instructional Leader
Community - Bright Lights
Shooting Star - Shannen Gallagher
Shannen Gallagher in Year 11 had an amazing week of shooting at the Wagga Wagga Trap National Competition.
Achievements for the week were:
🏆National Double Rise Ladies Champion
🏆3rd B Grade - Double Rise
🏆2nd in Juniors - Double Rise
🏆National Point Score Ladies Champion
🏆National A Grade Champion
🏆National Junior Champion
Overall High Guns for the week:
🏆National Ladies High Gun
🏆National Junior High Gun
🏆Olympic Endeavour Award
Shannen qualified for the Australian Junior Mackintosh Team, where the top 5 Shooters to compete in a shoot off, and she went on to secure herself a position in the Australian Junior Team to travel to the World Cup in South Africa in March 2023.
She will now travel to Sydney this coming Wednesday to compete in the NSW ISSF Olympic Trap Carnival.
On a roll - Georgia Gardiner
This term, Georgia Gardiner (Year 10) competed in the Australian Junior Track Cycling Championships in Brisbane with the NSW State Team. Georgia was able to bring home a gold medal in the Team Pursuit, along with fourth place in both the Omnium and the Keirin, a fifth place in the Individual Pursuit, and an eighth place in the Points Race.
Well done, Georgia. We wish you the best of luck in the next event!
Making a splash - Kayla MacBeth
Earlier this term, Kayla MacBeth (Year 5) participated in the 2022 NSW Speedo Sprint Series Finals at Homebush. Kayla competed in:
Girls 10 Year Old 50 LC Metre Breaststroke
Girls 10 Year Old 50 LC Metre Freestyle
Girls 10 Year Old 50 LC Metre Butterfly
We are all proud of your achievements, Kayla!
Community - School visit
Parkes High School - 24th March 2022
On 24 March, I visited the lovely town of Parkes in the Central West of NSW to complete a community liaison visit and to conduct the HSC Chemistry practical day assessment task with Year 12.
The weather was lovely, but unfortunately a few students and relevant staff were at home with COVID-19. There were still plenty of students to visit; however, as we share 17 students with Parkes High School from Years 7-12.
For the majority of the day, I worked with HSC Chemistry student Jacob on his Titration practical assessment task. This involves using a neutralisation reaction to determine the concentration of an unknown substance, in this case we were looking at the acetic acid concentration of vinegar.
The Aurora College students have a wonderful bright open space in the school library where they are supervised by the Aurora College Coordinator, Tracy Dawson. Tracy has done a fantastic job with the space over many years and the students were all positive and working hard in their lessons when I dropped-in to say hello.
Aurora College has had a long and prosperous relationship with Parkes High School and we know this will continue well into the future!
Fiona Boneham | Science Teacher
Thank you to everyone who attended our program of Parent Webinars for Term 1. Our session with Dr Kristy Goodwin on Tuesday 29 March was especially well attended and I have received lovely emails from people responding to Dr Kristy’s timely and important message.
Dr Kristy advocates for negotiating screen time, not banning it, as well as having healthy boundaries around tech use at home and work.
Marnie Etheridge | Rlg. Head Teacher Teaching and Learning
Connect locally, learn globally
Ben Hillsley, Learning Technologies Support Officer
I work behind the scenes, and hopefully you don't need to hear from me that often! My role is to ensure that all our students and staff have the technology they need to fulfil our schools motto: Connect locally, and learn globally.
Aurora College is not my first role in the Department of Education. I have been working with schools to support technology for the last 18 years, in many different areas of the state. At various times, I've been based in the New England area, supporting schools; in the Central West, helping schools and TAFEs from Lithgow to Broken Hill; and in Western Sydney, supporting the Digital Education Revolution teams in schools. As you can guess, I am very fascinated by technology and how you can use it to solve problems!
My wife and I live in the Blue Mountains, along with our two children, Parker and Edison, and our dog, Cyril. We believe that it is the perfect mixture of a quiet, almost country town, with the close proximity of the "big city". It gives us the opportunity to have quiet weekends, or to enjoy a night on the town. We enjoy theatre, museums and art galleries, and good restaurants, but it's also important to have some peaceful time at home with each other.
I love working at Aurora because every day is a new challenge. Not only do I get different and interesting puzzles to solve from students and teachers, but I also operate and manage the schools broadcast studio for our livestreams and recorded events. No two days are the same, which means I can never get bored. I am even happy to have a chat with parents if they have any technology questions I can help with.
Student Support - Wellbeing
National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence
On Friday 18 March 2022, Aurora College acknowledged this day by discussing upstander behaviours in classrooms.
Our focus this year is to support students in understanding what they can do when they see a bullying situation play out.
Be a voice, not an echo!
Harmony Week 21 – 27 March 2022
Harmony Week celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
We celebrate the cultural diversity that Aurora College has to offer by having students contribute to the following word cloud: What is your heritage?, illustrating the bringing together of a rich tapestry of student experiences and values, creating a unique partnership of which Aurora College is proud.
Talk about being a supportive bystander/upstander
Bystanders can contribute to the problem - upstanders can stop the problem.
If other students are confident to take safe and effective action, there is a greater possibility that the bullying will stop. This is known as being an upstander.
Upstanders can use words and/or actions that can help someone who is being bullied.
Last week saw World Backup Day observed on Thursday 31 March. It's a good opportunity to check and make sure all your information, both school work and personal data, has been included in your backup strategy.
A reminder that the Department provides all staff and students with a OneDrive account, allowing you to upload school related documents to the cloud for storage and backup.
A good way to organise your backups is the 3-2-1 strategy. This means having at least three total copies of your data, two on-site, and one off-site. The data saved on your computer counts as one on-site backup. Having a usb drive with a copy at home would be your second on-site backup. Finally, copying your work to the cloud (e.g. your school OneDrive account) is your off-site copy. If your laptop isn’t available anymore, you still have the usb drive, and if in an unlikely (but still possible) situation where your laptop and the usb drive were not working, you would have your cloud backup. You can add more backups in either category if you like, but at a minimum this should keep you protected as much as possible.
Ben Hillsley | Learning Technologies Support Officer
Student Support - Careers
Cadetship opportunities in business
For Year 12 students who are interested in business, why wait until you finish university to launch your career? Apply for a cadetship under the Business Cadetships Program.
Cadets combine study at the university of their choice with paid work at a leading company. You may choose from a wide range of degrees, including economics, commerce, business, actuarial studies, computer science & technology, mathematics and the humanities.
Under the 2022 program, Business Cadets will be placed in Sydney at either UBS, or Barrenjoey Capital Partners or at Macquarie Group - leaders in the financial services industry. The companies offer cadets exciting opportunities in a range of business areas, including financial technology. You will work alongside world-class professionals and be well remunerated.
Only current Year 12 students can apply. Check out the video:
Applications are made to Professional Cadetships Australia, an Australian company that specialises in providing career opportunities for young people. Applications for the Business Cadetships Program are open now and close on 25 May 2022. By this date, both your Application Form and School Assessment are due in.
It is not possible to apply once you are attending university.
The goIT Girls program is a week-long work experience program aimed at female students in Years 10 and 11.
It provides insight into the various STEM roles that exist across the business spectrum.
GoIT Girls has four areas of focus:
Provide insight into the technology industry, and its application in business.
Challenge gender stereotypes by showcasing women in STEM as role models
Build technical skills by and applying technology to solve business problems
Enhance confidence and employability skills
This is a free program for students in Years 10-11 enrolled in Australian schools. The program is aimed at young women who are curious about a career in technology. Students do not need any prior experience with technology to participate.
Program dates for 2022 (held online from 9:30am – 1:30pm AEST):
JMC Academy - Animation & games work experience week
This is a 5-day program where you’ll be introduced to the workflow of animation and game design!
The JMC Academy animation and games work experience week is for Years 10 – 12 students and will be conducted at the Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney campuses.
There are a limited number of spaces available.
If you are interested in participating, please apply ASAP. JMC will review all the applications and will be in contact if you have been accepted into the program. Applications close Friday 29 April 2022.
A WEP student exchange is the opportunity for students to exchange their school, culture, family and possibly language for a selected time period in another country.
It could be more rewarding than simply being a tourist, as you’ll live like locals and acquire knowledge not available to the general traveller. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel and study at an overseas school with the support of a volunteer host family.
2022 marks the first year that Aurora College has both a Year 5 and Year 6 cohort and our full OC team. To build a sense of community that Aurora is so well known for, our Year 6 students were connected with a Year 5 student to talk, share and and get to know each other. Students were matched according to location, connecting students in neighbouring regions or communities.
From across the state, students are connecting through dedicated class time to work on a collaborative document, communicating, sharing projects and giving advice about dual school life and learning through a virtual platform.
We look forward to a time when our buddies can connect with each other at the Residential School in Term 4.
Our Year 5 students have been learning about WeVideo for their Perfect Promo unit. As a preliminary unit to assist students with learning a new platform and tips for editing, Year 5 was tasked with creating a video about a Hippogriff. As you can see, students had fun channelling David Attenborough in their videos!
Masterclass with Dr Khamis
On Tuesday 29 March, Years 5 and 6 participated in a masterclass with the dynamic and insightful Dr Khamis. Dr Khamis is the CEO (the boss!) of a company called Contactile, which makes robots that are used in medicine. Her robots are special, as they are designed to not just follow a program, but to LEARN. Imagine a world full of robots that can do the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs that we do not want to do!
Dr Khamis has worked with many different universities in Australia, and even ran a holiday workshop showing students how to break apart and recombine parts of a WII controller to make a biomechanical contraption.
Dr Khamis is on the cutting edge of robotics innovation, giving robots the human sense of touch, and opening up a brand new world of possibilities!
Serena McLean | Assistant Principal
Faculty - English, Languages and HSIE
This term, Year 10 have explored the genre of creative non-fiction by looking at a range of texts and analysing the language forms and features used to create meaning. What is creative nonfiction? Simply put; it is true stories, well told. Creative non-fiction encompasses various texts such as memoirs, personal essays, poetry, and narrative journalism. Creative non-fiction contains the true stories that make us laugh, cry, and reconsider the world around us and our place in it. Students were asked to consider how authors creatively represent their experiences through the realm of non-fiction and then brought those ideas and devices into their own ‘life writing.’ Their work ranges from thoughtful depictions of life as a teen in rural NSW to humorous takes on the trials and tribulations we all face in our daily lives.
Jowen Hillyer | Head Teacher English, Languages, and HSIE
Faculty - Mathematics and Software Design & Development
As we reach the end of Term 1, we want to thank all those who have supported students, with many requiring flexibility due to floods, COVID and the extra-curricular and sporting events often scheduled at the start of a year. It has been wonderful to see the Aurora College community come together to support each other.
Assessment Tasks for Term 1 should now have been submitted. Students have once again submitted outstanding work, with most tasks completed to an exceptionally high standard.
We have trialled the new Canvas submission platform this year, and students have adapted quickly to the new procedure.
Progress summaries and Mathspace homework tasks
Students have a progress summary for each topic and a weekly homework task assigned to them on Mathspace. The reason we encourage students to complete these, despite not being assessment tasks, is to combat the ‘curve of forgetting’.
The curve of forgetting is research that backs up the saying ‘use it or lose it’, suggesting that memories of what one has learnt will weaken over time, particularly after you have just finished learning it for the first time.
‘Spaced Learning’ – including revision, such as homework on past topics, or creating summaries of learning for use in future assessment tasks, can help combat the curve of forgetting. It has been shown to improve short- and long-term retention of mathematics knowledge, improve test scores, and reduce overconfidence:
A trial last year showed that our own students who did spaced revision tasks in the lead-up to an assignment had higher than expected growth. As such, these spaced revision tasks have been assigned to all students as homework this year. We want to encourage our students to attempt the homework and progress summaries earnestly and regularly.
Problem Solving Challenges
Congratulations to the current front-runners from each year group, who are putting up a fierce competition in the following challenges:
Year 7 (Parallel by Simon Singh): Kit Hardy
Year 8 (Parallel by Simon Singh): Emma King and Penny Longstaff neck and neck!
Year 9 (Numeracy Challenge): Team ‘Force’, having just overtaken ‘Assassins’
Year 10 (Parallel by Simon Singh): Krzysztoff Wierzejski, just ahead of Hayley Fraser
Points are being tracked and prizes awarded for our outstanding problem solvers!
Karen Bellamy | Rlg Head Teacher Mathematics and Software Design & Development
Faculty - Science
The end of the term is coming soon and what a term we had in the science faculty!
All our students and teachers worked hard and diligently to learn new things, to complete work and to submit assessment tasks on time.
We take our hats off to all those students and teachers, and their families, who despite the ordeals of COVID isolation and floods, trooped along and communicated with us to solve all the problems with a positive attitude. The resilience and the support given to each other in the Aurora College community is inspirational.
Here are photos of the Clarence River close to Mr Harrington's house.
Classwork in science was very engaging, relevant and challenging during the term. Here is an example from Mr Warren's 8SCI3 class. What a great way to learn heat transfer - using the typical aussie bbq!
Term 2 will be a busy term, as reports are coming. We highly encourage all our students to complete all the work required for Term 1, so we start with a clear canvas after the holidays. Parents, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us via email and we can arrange phone calls to discuss the progress of your child and put support in place.
Many of our schools have completed the practical tasks for this term. It is the student's responsibility to enter the results and complete the discussion questions into Stile for class teachers to give valuable feedback.
The practical days for our seniors in Term 2 are published in the AC-Partner Schools TEAM.
Practical days for our seniors were a great success. We understand that some of the practicals were difficult to work out, but those practicals are chosen to enhance the learning of the working scientifically outcomes, with a focus on critical thinking and problem solving.
Mrs Boneham went to Parkes High School to work with Year 12 Chemistry students. Her report about her visit is in the community liaison section of this newsletter.
Here are some challenging activities (adapted from science-sparks.com) that families can enjoy together during the Easter long weekend:
Can you build a harness to transport an egg down a zip wire?
Can you wrap an egg so well that it survives a drop down the egg chute?
How many plastic eggs weigh as much as a chocolate egg?
Can you make a magnet powered egg car?
Can you build a tower strong enough to support an egg using just toothpicks and plasticine?
Can you build a craft stick catapult to catapult a plastic egg?
Happy Easter egg hunting! Send us the photos of your challenges to be published in the next edition of The Auracle.
Finally, we wish all our students and their families a safe holiday.
Silvia Rudmann | Rlg Head Teacher Science and Agriculture