GIFTED and talented students at Billabong High School have been given a chance to further their education with the establishment of a dedicated space for the Aurora College.
The college, a selective school for gifted and talented students run by the NSW education department, has accepted eight students from Billabong High.
The virtual secondary school is in its third year of operation, and has more than 200 students enrolled across the state.
Through the college, students are able to remain in their home town and study maths, science and English in an online environment.
Billabong High principal Kurt Wawszkowicz said the school had established the specialised spaces for Aurora students to ensure regional students were given the same opportunities afforded to their metropolitan counterparts.
“It’s critical, all of our students need to have access to the curriculum at the level they require,” he said.
“Whether that be a student with a learning disability or particular learning needs, a mainstream student or a student who is considered gifted and talented.
“It’s quite well known that those needs are often difficult to meet in rural and regional areas.
“I’m a big fan of the Aurora College initiative because it’s relatively ambitious but also quite a good idea in terms of addressing that issue.
“For students at Billabong High School and certainly others in our local area, while it isn’t a remote location, there certainly are issues of access.”
Mr Wawszkowicz said the impact the program had had on the students involved had been profound.
“Kids are very sociable, in the classroom sometimes they do need to associate with kids who are of the same sort of level as them.
“From very early on we were monitoring the kids and you could see the engagement.
“It’s not the most common thing to say you can see a kid really engaging with what they’re doing.
“I do have a look at other places around the area and think it’s an area of development for the Riverina.
“We’re probably underrepresented in terms of having opportunities for kids to study at the selective level, so I would certainly be in support of that.”
Aurora College head science teacher Virgina Cluff said the school had done well in establishing a specialised space for their students.
“The opportunities for students in rural and remote areas who wished to participate in a selective education was very limited,” she said.
“This allows us to cater to those students’ needs while allowing them to remain in their home communities, but also be with like-minded students, which gives them confidence.”