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You are reading: Developing strategies to address critical teacher attraction and retention issues in Australian rural, regional and remote schools

OLT Report written by Don Boyd, Emmy Terry and Professor Sue Trinidad


The following report documents the journey, deliverables/outcomes and recommendations of the project Developing Strategies at the Pre-service Level to Address Critical Teacher Attraction and Retention Issues in Australian Rural, Regional and Remote Schools.

In 2009 a group of tertiary educators from four universities in Western Australia with an interest and experience in rural, regional, and remote education, and especially in improving the attraction and retention of quality teachers to non-metropolitan locations, formed the Tertiary Educators Rural, Regional and Remote Network (TERRR Network). In 2010 the TERRR Network was successful in obtaining a grant from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) replaced by the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) to undertake a project titled: Developing strategies at the pre-service level to address critical teacher attraction and retention issues in Australian rural, regional and remote schools. The project aimed to strengthen the capacity and credibility of universities to prepare rural, regional and remote educators, similar to the capacity and credibility that has been created in preparing Australia’s rural, regional and remote health workers.

The project achieved the following broad outcomes and deliverables:

  • Developing a pre-service training framework and rural, regional and remote studies curriculum modules linked to the National Professional Standards of Teachers
  • Developing models of rural, regional or remote experiences for pre-service teachers who may be teaching in a variety of different locations such as a small rural farming community; a regional mining community; or a remote Indigenous community
  • Linking theoretical and practical teaching and learning processes for example practical field experiences into the curriculum
  • Documenting ways in which the participation rates of regional students in Western Australian teacher education programs can be increased
  • Embedding collaborative strategies between rural, regional and remote teacher educators across four universities in Western Australia
  • Improving communication between teacher educators and regional authorities, and
  • Expanding the research associated with rural, regional and remote education.

The development of the Training Framework for Producing Quality Graduates to Work in Rural, Regional and Remote Australia provides an overview of the processes and products created during the project. The ten components are grouped into two categories, the ‘lens’ and the outcomes/products which promoted discussion about the training needs for those about to embark on an appointment to schools beyond the metropolitan fringes. The training framework and teacher guides have been made available on the SPERA website and in electronic format on a CD so that universities can upload/embed these files to their Learner Management Systems for pre-service students.

The Training Framework for Producing Quality Graduates to Work in Rural, Regional and Remote Schools is available here.

The National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST): Graduate Professional
Knowledge for Rural, Regional and Remote Context for Graduate Teachers is
available here.

The resource package comprising of seven teacher guides is available here, containing:

Teacher Guide Overview
Teacher Guide 1: Understanding the Impact of Remoteness on Student Learning
Teacher Guide 2: Learning in the Remote Context
Teacher Guide 3: Teaching Students from Diverse Backgrounds in the Remote
Teacher Guide 4: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students
Teacher Guide 5: Engage in Professional Learning in the Remote Context
Teacher Guide 6: Engaging Professionally in the Remote Context
Teacher Guide 7: Engaging Professionally: Teaching and Living in the Remote

Three recommendations have arisen from the research and development undertaken in this project. These recommendations formed part of those National recommendations developed at the Summit 2011 – Rural Futures Matter – A Sustainable Australia held at Flinders University in September 2011. With the ongoing partnership with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) the project was influenced by the National reform agenda in education especially the work of the AITSL and the Australian Government’s Quality Teaching initiatives and in particular the National Partnership Agreement on Improving Teacher Quality.

Key Recommendations from this Project

  • The Australian Government makes resources available comparable to those which are provided in medicine to prepare rural GPs and other healthcare professionals, so that pre-service teacher education students have the option of taking a fully funded semester length rural/remote/regional professional placement, and that appropriate resourcing is allocated to support teacher educators to properly prepare, support and debrief teacher education students who take a rural/remote/regional placement
  • That both State and Federal Governments provide pre-service and early career Country Teaching Scholarshipsto all candidates willing to do a practicumor internship in non-metropolitan locations, and
  • Continue to promote the resourcesfrom the two projects, RRRTEC and this current project completed by the TERRR Network,to universities to be used in their teacher education courses to better prepare graduates for teaching in rural, regional and remote Australia.

Read more here: Developing strategies to address critical teacher attraction and retention issues in Australian rural, regional and remote schools (2.1 Mb)

Support for the production of this report has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.

Boyd, D., Terry, E. and Trinidad, S. (2013), “Developing strategies to address critical teacher attraction and retention issues in Australian rural, regional and remote schools.” Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching Council, Strawberry Hills, Australia. Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.
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