Distance education program to expand

It’s official, Calrossy will be expanding its distance education program, eCalrossy, in 2023 offering the option for students from Years 5 to 9. 

The innovative program will allowing them to access a Calrossy education without leaving their home. It comes after unprecedented demand from far west families for eCalrossy, particularly an option for younger school students before they start high school. 

Mark Doran, Calrossy’s Deputy Principal, said “Parents and students are valuing the high quality of education and the strong connections formed between students and with the teachers. It is gratifying that eCalrossy has met a need in the community.”

The expansion means the program is now moving into the Primary year levels and it will use the same technology as the Secondary model but work a little differently.

“Similar to secondary, the shortened online days will have students finishing at lunch time. The Year 5/6 class will be taught by Calrossy teachers who will expect the same standards of the eCalrossy students as the day students. The interaction with the teachers and class mates for 100% of class time means students benefit from live explanations, the opportunity to ask questions and be involved in discussions. This is quite different to some other forms of distance education. The residential weeks are also a key part of connectedness within the eCalrossy students, as well as giving them a taste of boarding.”

The Tamworth-based Independent school has received the green light from the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and the Calrossy School Board which means it’s all go for 2023. It’s been a rapid growth for eCalrossy which was launched in 2021 for Year 7 students and now offers Year 7 and 8 classes. The model was always designed to grow to provide distance education for students from Year 7 to 9, with the view to those students then entering the boarding system.

eCalrossy currently has 23 students, predominately from across far western NSW, enrolled in the program. They have a normal secondary timetable with Zoom lessons delivered from specialist subject teachers into their home everyday. There are three week-long residential sessions every year, to ensure the students are able to cover the practical curriculum in subjects such as Science, PDHPE and Technology. The new Year 5/6 class will have activities in the residential weeks which concentrate on some of the ‘hands on’ parts of the curriculum which are hard to replicate in an online environment.

Families have described the program as a life changer. Mum Rebecca Pearce, whose daughter Charlotte is in Year 9 boarding at Calrossy and Ruby is in Year 7 at eCalrossy, describes the quality of learning happening in the distance education program as “exceptional”.

“It is face to face, the technology and the teacher connection is brilliant. You get full engagement of students and teachers,” she says.

“Distance education can be so demanding as a parent, but with this Ruby is 100% independent. It is setting her up her future schooling and providing a true reflection of where Ruby is at.”

The Pearce’s live at Gumpopla Station, Packsaddle, 285 kilometres north east of Broken Hill.  Ruby, who had been doing School of the Air, just finished her second residential week and is loving eCalrossy. 

“I like that you get to see the other students over the screen and it’s easier to communicate and harder to get distracted,” Ruby says.