Virtual schools are being hailed as the opportunity to address an attainment and education divide in very geographically diverse countries, like Australia.
According to SBS, in Australia, fewer children from provincial and remote areas meet standard Year 7 milestones than their metropolitan counterparts. Less than 60 per cent of remote students complete Year 12, compared to 78 per cent in major cities.
Aurora College in New South Wales is delivering the vitual model to pupils and is already seeing huge benefits. According to Chris Robertson, principal of Aurora, ‘one of the advantages of the virtual model is that it keeps country kids in their communities, “where their social and emotional needs are best catered for”.
The school currently has 210 students, eight of whom are Indigenous. Robertson says that in five years, the school could accommodate up to 500 students.
Students log into the school’s online conferencing software and participate in classes led by teachers who can see and hear the students in real time, thanks to webcams and microphones. As network strength improves the system is set to get even better.
Robertson believes that virtual schools and the technology they use will become common place across the country and allow greater interaction, work sharing and expertise sharing.