xsel (Western NSW Region Virtual Selective High School Provision) is a selective virtual school located in Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia, providing a selective strand covering English, Mathematics and Science to high-ability high school students.
Established in 2010, xsel is the Department for Education and Communities' selective virtual high school strand of strand of English, mathematics and science for high-ability students from 16 schools across Lithgow to Broken Hill in Western New South Wales, Australia. The xsel virtual provision commenced in 2010 with an intake of thirty Year 7 students only. The school aims to grow until its first Year 12 graduates in 2015.
Students use a variety of online, collaborative and interactive tools in what is said to be Australia’s first virtual selective high school.
The xsel program allows academically gifted students in rural and remote areas to stay at home, rather than having to travel to metropolitan areas to attend selective schools.
Students study face-to-face with teachers and peers across the Department’s Western region which covers 385,000 square kilometres – an area greater than the size of Germany.
Students still go to their local high school but divide their time between the standard curriculum and the xsel program.
Its website is http://www.xsel.schools.nsw.edu.au
The Western NSW Region Virtual Selective High School Provision, (xsel), connects students from across the region into 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 secondary (base) school; meaning that they can access a challenging academic program without leaving home and friends to do so.
xsel Virtual Selective High School Provision is coordinated by the Manager, xsel, an xsel Teaching, Learning and Technology Officer and an xsel Support Officer. In 2010, the first Year 7 intake occurred of 30 students drawn from 16 secondary schools across Western NSW region. xsel students are divided into 'pods' of ten students with each pod allocated an English, Maths and Science teacher. Each base 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
Western NSW Region schools have for many years successfully used innovative technology to connect students and teachers in different locations. xsel builds upon and extends this experience into an exciting new range of opportunities for students.
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 base school. Each base school will provide a supervised learning space where the student will go for their xsel lessons. Each time English, Maths or Science appears on their base 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 from across the region.
The students of xsel receive daily lessons (known as ‘synopps' -synchronous opportunities) delivered in real time by their xsel teachers. Students will be in small groups (generally a maximum of 10) and use their inbuilt webcam and microphone to connect into the virtual classroom.
Students will 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 across the region and work in both xsel and their base school. Teaching in virtual modes and other xsel activities are conducted from the teacher's base school.
Each term, the xsel students meet for a residential camp. This is an opportunity for the students and teachers to interact face to face and carry out a range of educational activities.
Student Profiles 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
Selection Process The xsel virtual provision commenced in 2010 with an intake of thirty Year 7 students only. The school will grow until its first Year 12 graduates in 2015.
In Year 7, students are selected for placement in xsel via the Selective High Schools Placement Test. An intake of thirty students will be applied for the 2012 cohort. Future intakes may rise to sixty students per year but that will be decided after the first three years of full operation. To apply for the program students in Western NSW must complete the standard selective high school application form plus the Virtual Selective Class- Report of academic merit and sit the standard Selective High School Placement Test.
For Years 8-12, should a vacancy arise, the xsel selection committee chaired by the School Education Director, will determine the students to be offered places and will determine a reserve list in priority order.
Applicants for entry into xsel for Year 8 for 2012 must complete the Entry to Years 8-12 Selective Schools Application form and the xsel Year 8 Application Form and supply all supporting information to the Manager of xsel by the closing date. The call for applications commences in late June, 2011 and closes in late July, 2011. Details will be published on this website
Source of the above section: http://www.xsel.schools.nsw.edu.au
- xsel Virtual Selective High School, http://www.xsel.schools.nsw.edu.au
- Annual school report, http://www.xsel.schools.nsw.edu.au/our-school/annual-school-report
- "Virtual school breaks new ground", NSW Department of Finance and Services - Broadband Taskforce, 7 November 2011, http://broadband.nsw.gov.au/news-events/featured/virtual-school-breaks-new-ground, December 2011