Find the department’s latest advice on COVID-19 requirements in our schools throughout NSW.
As I write this article, our state is once again firmly in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NSW Government issued public health orders on the weekend, with stay at home rules now in place for all parts of the state.
All schools are currently operating under Level 4 guidelines, which include supporting a learning from home program. From the time of the first lockdown this year in Greater Sydney over seven weeks ago, Aurora College has been operating with varying combinations of staff and students connecting from school sites and from their homes. I want to acknowledge the incredible agility and resilience of the Aurora community in this difficult time. We’ve got this, Aurora!
Throughout the lockdown, Aurora lessons will run at their normal scheduled time in MS Teams. Tutorial support, literacy and numeracy coaching and wellbeing services will continue to operate as usual. If you are having connection issues, please contact our Technology Help Line on 1300 610 733 as soon as possible.
The pandemic continues to have a profound impact on all areas of society. By receiving a vaccine as soon as possible, by wearing a mask and following physical distancing, self-isolation and quarantine practices, we can all play an important part in preventing community transmission of COVID-19. It is natural to be worried about coronavirus and the changes it has forced on our lives. Too much concern; however, can impact on our ability to think clearly and to cope with daily challenges. If you experience anxiety or mood changes, feel overwhelmed, or find it difficult to sleep, it might be time to reach out for help. Our friends at Beyond Blue list a range of resources to help you manage your wellbeing and to support the wellbeing of others.
As informed and engaged citizens, I know that many of our students have read, and are understandably concerned by, the key findings of the sixth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Research quoted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), indicates that four in five young people are anxious about climate change, and three in four feel their opinions and fears are being ignored. APS cautions that dismissing young people’s climate anxiety, by denying or ignoring the issue, can adversely affect their mental health.
To help manage their feelings about climate change, it is important that young people talk about their concerns with family, friends, teachers and other trusted people in their networks. To “build a sense of self-efficacy, realistic hope and to increase the likelihood of environmentally friendly behaviour”, APS recommend that young people:
ReachOut.com has some useful advice for parents to help their children deal with anxiety about climate change. Of course, if these or other challenges are impacting on your child’s mental health and wellbeing, please contact the school for assistance via telephone on 1300 287 629 or email at email@example.com
Application processes to join the bright lights of Aurora are well underway. Early indications are that 2022 will see further significant growth in our total enrolment. By way of update:
For further enrolment information, please visit https://aurora.nsw.edu.au/our-school/enrolment-information/.
At the heart of every great school is a mutually supportive relationship between the school and its community.
The Aurora College Parents and Citizens Association (ACPCA) was voted into being on Wednesday 16 December 2020 and its formation as the state’s first virtual P&C has already strengthened Aurora College.
ACPCA is a group of dedicated and hard-working people who recognise the importance of connection and involvement with our wonderful school. ACPCA is an open forum for: forming relationships with the school staff; discussing important issues relating to our children’s education; formulating ideas that support the school; and conducting fundraising events to raise revenue for the benefit of students.
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of ACPCA will be held online (via Zoom) at 7:00 pm (AEST) on Wednesday 1 September, 2021. In the week before the meeting, a copy of the agenda and other relevant documents will be sent via email to all families. The AGM will be followed by a General Meeting of ACPCA.
If you would like to join ACPCA, please visit https://aurora.nsw.edu.au/pc/how-to-join/. The cost of membership for one year is only $5!
It saddens me to inform you that on Friday 30 July, our good friend and colleague, Jim Sturgiss, passed away following a battle with cancer. Aurora College was privileged to have Jim work with us as a casual teacher. He also worked closely with the science faculty and mentored a number of our teaching staff.
Jim and I go back a long way, having worked together as Head Teachers at Concord High School in Sydney. Later, our paths crossed through various roles we each held in State Office. Like everyone who worked closely with Jim, my work as a teacher benefited greatly from the experience.
Jim was an outstanding educator and a staunch defender of public education. His contribution to the profession went well beyond the classroom and included highly valued work with the Science Teachers Association of NSW and the Professional Teachers’ Council of NSW. Jim’s incredible intellect, his generosity of spirit, and irreverent sense of humour endeared him to a wide circle of friends and colleagues. We will all miss him.
Of course, Jim’s passing is being felt most acutely by his wife, Audrey, and by his children, Edward and Alex. Mercifully, despite the restrictions in Sydney at this time, I understand that his family were with Jim when he passed. Knowing the love that Jim had for his family, I know this would have brought him great comfort. Our thoughts are with Jim’s family at this difficult time.
In celebration of a life well-lived, here’s to you, Jim Sturgiss.
Chris Robertson | Principal
A big thank you to all Aurora staff and partner school ACC’s for going the extra mile to continue to deliver quality education to our students during extraordinary times.
Trial HSC exams were completed this week and for some students there was the added stress of having to go into lockdown in the middle of it. Thank you to Virginia Cluff and Scott New for their agility to come up with solutions so that students could still access and complete their exams. Understandably, with the daily changes with the HSC exams next term, having been moved back a week and some practical components of courses now being assessed via school assessment, this is placing extra pressure on what is already a stressful time for Year 12 students. For further information on coping strategies for exam stress, click on the following link https://au.reachout.com/articles/coping-strategies-for-exam-stress 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. We encourage students to continue working with their teachers to help facilitate this growth. 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.
Our leadership conference last term was able to be a face-to-face meeting in Sydney. The leadership conference allows us to welcome Aurora’s leaders and aspiring leaders from around NSW to focus on implementing the school plan. We were privileged to work with the talented Michael McQueen, looking at Learning for the Future and the way that we as a school could shape the things to come in education and drive innovation. During the second day, staff worked in teams on the school’s Strategic Improvement Plan which will guide the direction of the school for the next 3 years. Thank you, Serena McLean, for a relaxing session on wellbeing for staff as well as Silvia Rudmann and Trudy Spargo for an engaging session looking at High Potential Gifted Education.
In week 6, we will be returning to an online leadership conference focused on creating a culture of agility and innovation which is highly appropriate, given our current circumstances. There will also be a session on identifying and developing teacher leaders which will be delivered by Chris Brown from the School Leadership Institute. Again, more time will be devoted to the planning, implementation and assessment of our Strategic Improvement Plan.
The process of selecting subjects and developing timetables for 2022 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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn McMurtrie | Deputy Principal
Just a quick hello to everyone and to introduce myself as the new Careers Advisor for Aurora College, having started just this week. This is to let you know how excited I am to have this wonderful opportunity to meet students, parents/carers and work with you to plan your career pathways.
I have been a teacher for 27 years (so yes, I am a bit old) having taught in the areas of English, History, and Drama. I currently work at Southern Cross School of Distance Education located in Ballina and I am very lucky living near the beach. I still get to travel and visit students at Inverell, Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Tweed Heads and anywhere in between. My real passion though is student well-being,and over the last five years I have focused on guiding students in their post school options.
You can contact me via email at email@example.com or via phone on 02 6681 0482 (Thursdays). I am also available for advice in Teams, so feel free to tag me in a post in the Aurora College Students team!
We posted about the Subject Compass from UAC and how students can use it to help select their HSC subject. Check it out here: HSC subject selection made easy
If you have (or want to get) a job, then you need to do a couple of things to prepare for tax time. These are:
Watch the video below for more information.
Kim Morris | Careers Advisor
Our HSC Study Days continue with students dialling in via Zoom – lock down restrictions have not stopped our learning! We have shared our workshop recordings with schools who are still in lockdown to help their preparation for HSC Trial examinations and our presentations have been full of great tips and tricks for the exams.
As the HSC timetable has been impacted upon COVID restrictions in NSW, it’s great to continue to give our students and staff the support they need to achieve their very best. Our presenters, who had to change their presentations very quickly to Zoom, are highly appreciated by the participants.
Marnie Etheridge | R/Head Teacher Teaching and Learning
Our parent webinar with the Black Dog Institute was rescheduled from Tuesday 27 of July to Thursday the 5 August.
As the age group least likely to seek help when dealing with worries, concerns and unhelpful thoughts, teens are at prime risk when it comes to mental health issues. During adolescence, 50% of mental health issues emerge and these can have lifelong consequences. Being able to identify issues and intervene early on is critical.
Our presenter Stephanie Thompson will share her lived experience with mental illness and provide insight on how to spot early warning signs of mental illness, when and where to seek help and how to support a young person they care about.
If you would like to register for future parent webinars you can access the full program on the Aurora College website.
Marnie Etheridge | R/Head Teacher Teaching and Learning
Our Opportunity Class recently partnered with the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education at Richmond Agricultural College to deliver a series of masterclasses investigating bees and pollination. These fortnightly masterclasses have assisted students in exploring scientific and agricultural practices, through an investigation of pollinators and future food security. Students have been tasked with becoming ‘Citizen Scientists’ to investigate the pollination count in their school garden.
As part of this unit, students have collected soil samples which have been sent to Aurora College to be analysed. Thank you to our wonderful Aurora College Coordinators who have assisted with collection and postage of samples. We are all looking forward to hearing about what we can learn from these samples and how this impacts agricultural practices.
In the coming weeks, students will begin prototyping a mechanical pollinator, as well as designing a local solution to support the survival of pollinators and future food security. The iteration and communication phases of the design thinking process will be our focus this term as we continue to work through the iSTEM Design Process.
Students have made some creative and colourful logos using the design software CANVA and have created detailed maps of garden beds and other areas of their school that will attract bees. These beautiful maps are drawn to scale, labelled and will be used throughout the unit as we discuss the habitats.
Using creativity and demonstrating deep knowledge and understanding of fractions concepts has been explored by designing our own fractions gardens in Minecraft. Students eagerly rose to the challenge of modelling numerators, denominators with flowers, beacons and water features; and then creating 3D versions of equivalent fractions. There was endless creativity and interaction between students as they toured each other’s creations. Riding on llamas, visiting temples and floating gardens to see how fractions could be demonstrated was modelled. Be sure to ask your child to share their world with you!
We have also included a QR code so you can view a virtual fly over of our Minecraft world.
Before the holidays, my teacher, Emily Dennis at Nashdale PS, told me about an opportunity for passionate mathematicians with the University of Melbourne. My family looked into it, and were really excited, it looked great! I had to do a test to see whether I would qualify – it was a VERY hard test. I had to show all of my working for 15 factorial, (15x14x13x12…)
Not long after, I found out that I had been accepted, and would be joining online lectures with University of Melbourne for Micro Mathematics over the holidays.
My favourite part was making the Sierpinski square pyramid. I learned a lot of real life uses for complex mathematics. I also learned that I love pushing myself in new areas, and I would definitely recommend Micro Mathematics to other students.
Serena McLean | Assistant Principal
Year 8 are currently studying advertising, and below you will find some examples of 21st Century ad drafts that our students are developing for their advertising campaigns. They had to choose a futuristic mobile phone image and come up with a campaign that could be used on Instagram or Twitter.
Year 9 studied a range of Aboriginal voices in their last unit, engaging with a range of perspectives on Aboriginal culture and experiences. For their assessment task, students created a panel for a mural, representing the ideas from a poem studied in class.
This is a showcase of some of their work:
Year 10 have been studying comtemporary poetry and poetic forms this semester. Slam poetry and spoken word have been the focus area, as well as composing in different poetic forms.
Red dust in my face.
Angry clouds swirl around me.
The rain dance will begin.
The moon shines down
on the glittering water.
These floods must leave us.
Lost souls swept away,
dampened by twisting waves.
Constant worry pains us.
The water felt like
a floating hope over the
valley of ashes.
The course red rock loomed
over everything near it
a tall watchtower.
When the sun faded
past every barren field
all hearts were empty.
As the leaves fell near
the wind smelled of earth and dew.
Haiku about haikus
To freeze the moment
in seventeen syllables
is very diffic……
Couplet about a bed
I am impartial towards a shed
I prefer a cosy bed
Couplet about pets
Exercise, obedience, and affection
in that direction
Year 11 Extension English delivered mini-lessons last week as part of the multi-modal component of their assessment task. They were required to deliver a twenty-minute presentation with an activity for everyone to participate in that explored how a text revealed a quest narrative.
The samples below show their planning and some of their presentations. Their work was engaging, thoughtful and it was a fun way to spend the morning talking about the best subject, English!
In Term 2, Year 11 Modern History were very busy completing their Historical Investigation. This is a mandatory component of the course that allows students to explore a topic that they are interested in. For their investigation, students develop a key question that will drive their research. Next, they identify and analyse appropriate sources to come to a justified conclusion.
To assist students with their research, Mrs Taylor, our brilliant Librarian at Aurora, did two workshops with us. We learnt how to use the Oliver Library effectively, including accessing sources on Jstor and setting up an accurate bibliography. We would like to thank Mrs Taylor for her ongoing support of which we are very grateful.
To present their historical investigation, students have developed a virtual museum using Artsteps.com. Here, they are able to design a space that showcases their investigation process, including mounting their sources on the walls and communicating their finding. This allows them to display their hard work in a creative way on a digital platform.
Jowen Hillyer | Head Teacher English, HSIE, and Languages
All students in Year 7-10 should have received a copy of Assessment Task 3, due mid this term. Assessment Task 3 includes a creative component, and will require some preparation and time outside class to complete. The earlier topics can be attempted as soon as the task is received. We encourage students to begin preparation for the task as early as possible to leave themselves plenty of time to complete all the components of the task to a high standard.
Students are reminded that it is an expectation that they are completing all assigned classwork. Every class has a ‘Completion of Work’ or COW page, which clearly outlines the expected classwork. Please check with your teacher if you are unsure where to find this and regularly ensure your work is up-to-date.
Year 12 are currently undergoing their trial examinations. We wish them all the best with their studies and preparations. Year 11 examinations are scheduled for weeks 8-9 of this term. Examination preparation often includes creating summary sheets for each topic and attempting past HSC papers under timed examination conditions. Students are encouraged to ask their teachers if they are unsure where to find revision or study material.
Karen Bellamy | R/Head Teacher Mathematics and Software Design & Development
Year 12 Physics and Chemistry exams were held during weeks 3 and 4. Congratulations to all our students for completing those exams to the best of their ability. Teachers are marking the exams and feedback will be given in class.
Year 11 exams are getting closer now. They are scheduled for weeks 8 and 9 this term. Students should be getting ready for revision by creating summary notes and asking questions in class to clarify their understanding and to consolidate their learning. Notification for the yearly exams and exam timetable will soon be sent to all students, parents and Aurora College Coordinators.
Year 7 to 10 students are busy too this term, with the completion of assessment tasks. Here is a short summary of the assessments that students should complete by the end of this term:
The Validation of Assessment for Learning and Individual Development (VALID) is an online test linked to the science syllabuses, and assesses what students know and can do in science. It also provides useful information about student attitudes towards science and helps teachers to identify areas that students need more support.
The test runs during a two week window, from 23 August to 3 September. At Aurora College, the test will be done in class time on a day and lesson that your Year 10 teacher will choose.
The test consists of multiple-choice questions and short responses. If you are curious about the test, here is a sample: See sample test (username = testing, password = science).
Aurora College teachers work extremely hard to create, develop and deliver innovative lessons every week and to produce relevant assessment tasks for all their students. They have high expectations of their students with the aim to model effective learning habits to be translated into successful achievement.
Therefore, teachers expect that all students complete classwork and assessments in a timely manner so that productive feedback about the learning progress of their students may be given. Students can check their work in Stile. The platform tells students, as they open the class page, about the overdue work and what lessons were submitted, marked or incomplete.
Students, be proactive with your learning by taking charge of your own learning!
Science practicals in home schools and flipped lessons are compulsory components of the science course. Attendance at each scheduled practical and completion and submission of associated tasks in Stile is expected every fortnight.
Flipped lessons focus on the application of science in society. For example, in Year 7 one of the lessons asked students Do you dare to drink sewage? Students investigated how it is possible in a safe way by watching videos about how human waste is recycled and converted into fresh water.
Here are some answers from Year 7 students:
I would drink the water because I like to help save water and help the environment. I would be hesitant to drink it, though, if I did not know the processes involved and the tests to prove that it is safe – Will
The international space station has recycled water because they only have a set amount that they have to make last for months on end. They recycle by using a very complex machine that is kind of like reverse osmosis – Riley
Spiders can eat snakes 30 times their size! This is the case for our own red back spider – it can eat a juvenile eastern brown snake that gets stuck in the spider’s sticky web. As soon as the snake gets tangled, the spider subdues the reptile by rapping more sticky webbing around it and then it delivers a toxic bite that eventually kills the snake.
Here is the article is you want to read more – M. Nyffeler and J.W. Gibbons. Spiders (Arachnida: Araneae) feeding on snakes (Reptilia: Squamata). The Journal of Arachnology. Vol. 49(1), May 11, 2021. doi: 10.1636/JoA-S-20-050.
Dr Silvia Rudmann | R/Head Teacher Science and Agriculture
We are excited to announce the re-launch of the Aurora College SRC. The time has come to get Aurora College’s SRC back into action and make things happen.
The disruption caused by COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the importance of the SRC and the student voice it represents and supports. Student wellbeing, school improvement, and community-building need the constant advocacy of the SRC so that students can thrive and prosper at school.
Students have begun the Self-Nomination process with impressive leadership skills presented in each student’s application. Keep an eye out for their campaign videos and get to know your SRC representatives.
Julie Ruming | Learning and Support Teacher
Masterclasses continue to be a very popular and important part of the Aurora College curriculum. We have arranged an excellent line up of masterclasses in Term 3.
After each masterclass we ask all of the students to rate the class and also give us suggestions on future classes. One of the most popular requests is for masterclasses on careers in psychology and medicines. I am so pleased to report that we have been able to find presenters in both of these areas in Term 3.
Our first masterclass for Year 7 to 10 in Term 3 was on marine biology and we had an excellent class conducted by Jessica O‘Hare. Jessica is currently completing her PhD at Macquarie University on the genetics of the Sydney rock oyster, and is the lead geneticist on several projects investigating Australian bivalves. A conservation biologist at heart, her research explores the interface between industry and conservation needs to create a sustainable and efficient route to food security.
Current industry-partnered projects use genomic technologies to address issues of production efficiency, disease resistance and sustainable harvest. These themes are greatly important to an industry sector responsible for producing high quality protein for our growing population, while reducing our ecological footprint and facilitating healthy marine and estuarine ecosystems.
Jessica was able to share with our students a little of her research and past projects, including her studies on Heron Island and her current research on sharks.
Virginia Cluff | Instructional Leader
Hey Everyone, I’m Murray Rose and I live in Bathurst and work at Denison College – Bathurst High Campus.
Bathurst is mostly famous for Mount Panorama Race track and the Bathurst 1000 V8 race. I have really enjoyed the move out west after growing up in Sydney and experiencing the country lifestyle. Bathurst also has an amazing fossil and mineral museum and great local foods and markets.
I have been a teacher for 7 years now and have been involved with Aurora College for 3 years. I have had Year 8 sciences classes each year and really enjoy going on ‘res’ and meeting all the students face to face.
The best part of Aurora is all the new experiences I have had that I wouldn’t have done without this opportunity. Seeing Shakespeare plays and visiting locations like the library wouldn’t have been on my ‘to do’ list, but thanks to Aurora I have had the opportunity to develop my appreciation of concepts outside my specialty area.
As a science teacher, I take any opportunity to dress up as a character very seriously, and I enjoy making really bad dad jokes! I’m sure anyone in my classes would agree with that. I love random facts and that science is a continually changing subject with new discoveries made everyday. Thanks to the internet and our ability to access information, I’m a bit of a YouTube addict and highly recommend channels like “Vsauce2” and “Daily does of Internet” to keep up to date with the latest scientific discoveries and cool videos. Science is all about finding an area of passion and trying to make a difference in that field, no matter how big or small.
Murray Rose | Teacher Science
The Aurora College Learning and Support Team meet weekly to discuss each child’s wellbeing and learning needs. Part of this process is to monitor the attendance rates of all students to identify patterns of lateness to class and days absent. In the coming weeks, the Learning Support Team will contact families to support them in achieving the goal of 100% attendance. Studies have shown that students who have a high attendance rate, above 90%, set themselves up to be more successful in their adult lives.
Going to school every day is the single most important part of your child’s education. Attending and participating in school will help your child develop:
Children who attend school every day and complete Year 12 have:
There is no safe number of days for missing school. Each day a student misses puts them behind.
Lucy Jellema | Learning and Support Teacher
The Harding Miller Education Foundation Scholarship Program provides practical support to lift the educational and career aspirations of high potential Australian girls who are facing economic hardship. The Harding Miller Scholarship is open to female students currently in Year 8 in a public high school. Applications close on Wednesday 15 September 2021. For further information, click here.
The Agnes Borsody Scholarship provides financial assistance to refugee or immigrant girls, or daughters or granddaughters of refugees or immigrants in need attending NSW selective schools, specialist schools or schools with selective streams. There are up to 5 scholarships available across the eligible high schools, with each scholarship providing $1,000 per year for 2 years (total $2,000) to support the students studies whilst they remain enrolled in the broader selective/specialist high school setting. Applications close at midnight, Tuesday 14 September 2021.
The Public Education Foundation has other scholarships available to NSW public school students. Visit their website for information on all of the available scholarships.
We would like to pay our respects and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and also pay respect to Elders both past and present.