Just like most year 7 students, the highlight of Ashley Sher's school day is often hanging out in the playground with her friends.
The only difference is that when it’s time for Ashley’s English, Maths or Science classes she leaves her mates and enters a virtual learning classroom.
There she catches up with her other friends, her classmates from the most remote corners of NSW that she is connected to via the internet.
The 11-year-old is one of a small group of elite students at Eden Marine High School who are also enrolled at Aurora College, the state's first virtual high school.
Aurora College caters for gifted and talented students who have superior to very superior academic ability matched by exceptionally high classroom performance. The virtual schools bring together gifted and talented students who may otherwise be isolated from a suitable peer group.
When Ashley was in year 6 at Pambula Public School she was planning on attended Lumen Christi Catholic College which would have allowed the Pambula Beach student to walk to and from school each day.
However, through a family friend she heard about Aurora College and decided to sit the Selective High School Placement Test.
“Since I was in year 1 I have always been working really hard, and always working a year ahead. School wasn’t easy but it wasn’t challenging,” Ashley said. “The test was hard and I didn’t think I would get in. When I found out I knew it was a good opportunity for me.”
At only 11-years-old Ashley decided to put her education first and change her plans and enroll at Eden Marine High School as Aurora College is only offered at public schools.
Recently Aurora students travelled to Sydney for a week-long residential, giving Ashley the chance to meet her teachers face-to-face for the first time.
“It was fun meeting everyone in real life I made lots of friends.”
Ashley said she is really enjoying the challenge of Aurora and the new way of learning, but her dad, Larry Sher, said it definitely isn’t for everyone.
“It works for Ashley because she has always loved being in a room by herself without distractions.”