In 2014 xsel connects students and teachers from partner schools in western parts of NSW in a selective strand covering English, Mathematics and Science using sophisticated technology and personal contact to deliver the curriculum. Students are enrolled both in the selective school (xsel) and also in their local government secondary school; meaning that they can access a challenging academic program without leaving home and friends to do so. xsel partner schools 2014
xsel Virtual Selective High School Provision is coordinated by the Manager, xsel, an xsel Teaching, Learning and Technology Officer and an xsel Administrative Officer. xsel students are grouped into 'pods' of ten students with each pod allocated an English, Maths and Science teacher. Each partner school has allocated a staff member who acts as an xsel support person to give the students personal assistance. Science teachers at the base school also assist the xsel students with the practical component of that course.
How the school works
xsel provides teaching and associated support of English, Mathematics and Science, while the base school will provide the rest of the school curriculum and extracurricular activities. xsel programs, teaches, assesses and reports in English, Maths and Science KLA's. Students do not attend these subjects in their local school. Each partner school provides a supervised learning space where the student go for their xsel lessons. Each time English, Maths or Science appears on their local school timetable, students go to their allocated xsel learning space and participate in the xsel program using the laptop supplied by xsel. In this way, xsel connects via technology the gifted and talented students.
The students of xsel receive daily lessons (known as ‘synopps' -synchronous opportunities) delivered in real time by their xsel teachers. Students are in small groups (generally a maximum of 10) and use their inbuilt webcam and microphone to connect into the virtual classroom.
Students also have access to the xsel moodle website. It is at this site where students download weekly activities and assignments and upload their completed tasks for marking. The xsel moodle also has discussion forums, wikis, blogs and archival recordings of the xsel synopps. The full use of digital technology means students can fully participate in classes delivered by expert teachers from another location. Teachers and students communicate daily via email as well, which gives each student the individualised attention to support their individual learning needs.
Teachers are selected on merit from partner schools and work in both xsel and their local school. Teaching in virtual modes and other xsel activities are conducted from the teacher's school.
Each term, the xsel students meet for a residential school in Dubbo. This is an opportunity for the students and teachers to interact face to face and carry out a range of educational activities.
To gain entry into xsel, students need to have very high academic ability. However, as it is a virtual provision another range of capacities are also highly valued. These include:
· strong technology skills
· highly organised
· excellent time management
· high order problem solving and creative thinking
· highly productive (both in quality and quantity of work produced)
· Resilient, trustworthy and reliable
The 2014 application window for entry in 2015 is now closed.
Students seeking entry for 2016 should refer to the Virtual Secondary School website.