Article published by Regional Australia Institute Australia’s 31 small cities are a diverse, growing and highly productive network of urban areas. They are already home to 4.5 million people and contribute 15 per cent of national economic activity as well as being the services hubs for the majority of regional Australians. Analysis of small cities’ […]

Five new frameworks that can drive teacher education reform

Written by Professor John Fischetti for The Conversation There have been more than 100 reports critiquing teacher education in Australia since the 1970s. These reports led to new tests and more accountability standards and measures of teacher behaviours. Today we have a regulated profession that has not changed the content of what is taught as […]

What’s so hard about teaching? Words of advice for new teachers

Article written by  Misty Adoniou for The Conversation The first term of the school year is coming to a close. For most beginning teachers the school holidays cannot come soon enough. All of them feel exhausted. Most will be anxious about the quality of their work – have their students been learning, are their colleagues […]

2016 ACEN Student scholarships

Eight scholarships of $1,500 for remote and regional Australia Applications are now open for scholarships to provide financial support for students undertaking a work integrated learning (WIL) placement in a regional or remote area of Australia as part of their 2016/2017 university studies. Once again eight scholarships to the value of $1,500 each are being […]

Innovation Watch

Innovation Watch is a national network of regional Australians that have come together to share ideas about successful community-led development. It is a platform to exchange ideas and learn from the experiences of others about what works in regional development. Discussions focus on practical initiatives that are driven by the local community. Regional Australia is […]

Julia Gillard to attend as Australia’s oldest continually running school in Newcastle celebrates 200 years

Article written by Jackson Vernon for ABC News Former prime minister Julia Gillard will be part of the upcoming bicentenary celebrations for Australia’s oldest continually running school. In February, Newcastle East Primary School will mark 200 years since it was opened in 1816. Back then 16 students made up the first class, including a mix […]

Remote Education Systems

About the project The Remote Education Systems (RES) project aims to find out how remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can get the best benefit from the teaching and learning happening in and out of schools. It is doing this by engaging with members of communities, schools, government agencies and other end users who […]

Closing the ‘digital divide’ for disadvantaged students

Thursday 21 January 2016 Joint Media Release from The Department of Education and Training Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham Minister for Education and Training The Hon Christopher Pyne MP Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Leader of the House   Australian students from rural, remote, disadvantaged and Indigenous schools stand to benefit from a $6.9 million […]

2016 Grant Opportunities

Happy New Year! To help you make the most of 2016, the following are some grant opportunities that may be of interest to you or your organisation. The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) currently has four grant opportunities available, as follows: Tackling Tough Times Together: Closing on Wednesday 27 January 2016, the Tackling […]

Inspiring Educators: An Interview with Mr Brian O’Neill

The Team at Faculty recently spoke with Mr Brian O’Neill, who is principal of Calen District College and President for the Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia (SPERA). This 45 minute conversation provides a fascinating insight into teaching in rural Australia. Continue Reading…

RUN welcomes changes to Youth Allowance to help regional students

The Regional Universities Network (RUN) welcomes changes to Youth Allowance which will make it easier for rural and regional students to go to university. The changes, passed by the Federal Parliament on November 12, will result in all dependent children being taken into consideration in the assessment for Youth Allowance eligibility, softening the reductions in […]

Thank You Deakin

Since the first SPERA National Conference was held 31 years ago, a great deal has been achieved, many innovative practices have been celebrated and ground-breaking research around the provision of education in rural areas has been published. All of these achievements have been designed to prepare teachers to undertake careers in these areas and to provide rural students with a smorgasbord of opportunities […]

Improving mathematics and science education in rural Australia: A practice report

Robert Whannell, Steve Tobias

There has been a steady decline in the number of secondary and tertiary students studying mathematics and science. Rural schools also report a shortage of qualified teachers in these disciplines. This paper describes the steps taken at the University of New England (UNE) to improve the provision of mathematics and science education (MS) in rural Australia. Initiatives such as the use of an online interactive digital classroom by rural NSW schools presenting MS contexts based on a SMART (sustainable, management, and accessible rural technologies) Farm will be presented. Research to improve teacher confidence and competence in these areas will be discussed along with the steps being taken to develop a Higher Education Research Facility (HERF) which will support research and engagement in the STEM domain.

Using virtual worlds in rural and regional educational institutions

Sue Gregory, Lisa Jacka, Mathew Hillier, Scott Grant

This paper presents four case studies from two regional and two metropolitan Australian universities, showcasing how 3D virtual world platforms have been used to connect, engage and motivate students in both co-located and non-co-located contexts. The case studies provide practical examples of how virtual worlds and associated applications have been operationalised in real teaching and learning contexts involving a range of different disciplines. For rural educators looking for innovative ways to enrich the student learning experience, the case studies offer first hand insights into the potential and the problems of using virtual worlds for educational purposes.

Comparing rural and urban education contexts for GLBTIQ students

Tiffany Jones

This paper considers the different experiences for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (GLBTIQ) students from rural and urban education contexts. It draws on data from three studies of GLBTIQ students I have conducted since 2010, including a 2010 online survey of 3,134 GLBTIQ students in which one fifth came from rural areas; a 2012 study of transgender people and a 2013 study of transgender and intersex students. The different studies repeatedly showed that GLBTIQ students from rural and remote towns experienced isolation, social discrimination and a lack of appropriate services and support. They were less likely to feel safe at school, at social occasions and on the internet than their urban peers. Many aspired to leave their rural and regional homes to become the person they wanted to be in an urban environment. The paper concludes by recommending specific training, resources and contacts to improve rural education services for these students.

Learning opportunities in the ‘Golden Years’ in a regional city

Bronwyn Ellis

Several projects relating to older learners have been conducted over the past decade or so, some involving the University of the Third Age (U3A) Whyalla, as well as other groups composed of older citizens. Here a wide range of learning activities, as revealed by survey data, publicly available information, and participant observation, are described. Some provide examples of engagement with the local university campus; others have this potential. Together with long-running group activities, new activities – a men’s shed and a music learning activity – have potential outcomes for participants’ health and wellbeing. Such opportunities help meet non-metropolitan lifelong learning needs. Maximising information sharing and cooperation can lead to mutual benefits, including for educational institutions. Increasing social inclusion benefits the whole community.

Preparing pre-service teachers for rural appointments

Kathy Jenkins, Linley Cornish

Pre-service teachers need to be prepared to teach in both rural and urban contexts. Preparation to teach multi-grade classes in rural schools is excellent preparation for teaching any class, including urban single-grade classes. Based on our previous research and experience, we designed a unit to prepare our pre-service teachers for the issues they may face in their employment and especially in rural schools, including multi-grade teaching, coping with isolation, working as a casual teacher, and communicating with parents and caregivers. There are significant issues that are distinct in rural and urban contexts, including how metrocentric departmental policies can emphasise the rural/urban divide.

Learner agency and assessment for learning in a regional New Zealand high school

Jennifer Charteris

Assessment for Learning (AfL) pedagogies can have a significant impact on student learning and achievement. This paper reports on data from a study of four teachers and 48 student participants within a regional high school. An inquiry approach to teacher professional learning is explored through an AfL lens, in particular, how teacher feedback for professional learning can be nuanced and dialogic. The research draws from one reflective dialogue interview where a teacher explores student voice data to consider her learners’ perceptions of how they learn and of the classroom learning practices of feedback, feedforward and self-assessment. The paper addresses learner agency as an important aspect of curriculum implementation for teachers and assessment for learning for students.

A partnership aimed at improving Health and Physical Education at a rural school: Impacts on pupils, university students, teachers and academics.

Judith Miller, John Haynes, Jim Pennington

Challenges and benefits arose when a rural school and a neighbouring university formed a partnership with the aim of improving the school’s Health and Physical Education (HPE) program. The HPE programs were enhanced through two joint research projects. The first research project had two facets, including an evidence-based curriculum for Physical Education in the school, and a remediation program for children identified through the coordination testing process. The second research project was designed to investigate students’ Health Education knowledge and explore any behavioural changes in and around nutritional choices. Both the projects were conducted as mutually productive partnerships within the school, resulting in beneficial changes for the school, the university and for the multiple participants. For the school, the Physical Education curriculum and pedagogies were modified and for students identified as requiring remediation, a multi-partnered intervention program was implemented. Students, teachers, parents and pre-service teacher education students benefited from the movement intervention program. The health education curriculum was enhanced when the school developed a social marketing approach to facilitate health-related decisions for pupils, teachers and ancillary staff. The university changed their pre-service teacher education curriculum, teaching methods, and achieved stronger research based outcomes by partnering with the school across both projects.


Welcome to the second edition of the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education (AIJRE) for 2015. We are pleased to offer our readers a range of articles to stimulate discussion and creative thinking around the issues facing rural and remote learners, educators and institutions broadly grouped into areas related to relationships, overcoming isolation and curriculum.

Rural Voices Gather in the City

A prominent K-12 Queensland school principal and a number of leading academics will this week attend a conference at Deakin University’s Geelong Waterfront campus to discuss the future of rural education policy in Australia. Calen District State College and Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia (SPERA) President, Mr Brian O’Neill, will be […]

City & Beyond

Written by Josh, Caitlin and Damien Boccamazzo, and Brent Kealy City & Beyond is a resource we created for rural students to help with the transition from high school to university. Rural students are at a significant disadvantage to their urban counterparts for primarily two reasons: Complete lack of information and resources, and Having no choice but […]

Advance Australia Fair

Written by Nathan Williams In 2011, I was offered a sponsored place to the Annual SPERA Conference in Adelaide. Now I’m back! I’d like to open the doors of my home to you and why the conference is so important to me. At the time, I was the first person in our family to attend […]

Notre Dame Pre-service Teachers contribute to the lives of the children in the Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community

Written by Glenda Cain, The University of Notre Dame Australia The Principal of the Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School, Daniel Havelberg, has great praise for the ten The University of Notre Dame Australia pre-service teachers and staff who recently spent a week in the school and contributed significantly to the lives of the children. Tjuntjuntjara is located […]

German debut for CQUni Music Theatre graduate

Obtained from CQUniversity Media newsletter and ABC Radio interview CQUniversity Music Theatre graduate Paul Tabone will soon make his German debut in a return season of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera sequel – Love Never Dies – in Hamburg’s Operettenhaus. The lyric tenor, who attended CQUni’s Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Mackay, has […]

Queensland State P-10/12 School Administrators’ Association – a brief overview

Written by Geoff Latta, State President, Queensland State P-10/P-12 School Administrators’ Association The 81 current P-10/12 schools are scattered across our great State and are a very important part of its education history. Our schools are some of the largest and smallest in the State. In 1957, the number of secondary departments, forerunners to what we […]

Update from the President – Aug/Sep 2015

Thank you for the positive comments regarding the July 2015 edition of the newsletter. Thank you to those of you who have contributed to this edition and to those of you who have indicated that you will be contributing articles in the future. My vision for SPERA is to reach out and to form partnerships […]

2015 Conference Update

Written by Jodie Kline, Deakin University – SPERA 2015 Conference Director Mapping education policy landscapes: rurality and rural futures Jo-Anne Reid (Charles Sturt University), Gary Fry (Charles Darwin University – Centre for School Leadership), Marie Brennan (Victoria University), Sabina Knight (Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health) and Jim Watterson (Director General – Queensland […]

31st SPERA Conference

Deakin University | Geelong Waterfront Campus: 4-6 November 2015 Confirmed speakers and guests include: Jim Watterston (Director-General, Dept. Education and Training – Qld) Jo-Anne Reid (CSU) Sabina Knight (Australian Rural Health Education Network) Josh Arnold (Small Town Culture) Bernadette Walker-Gibbs (Deakin University) Marie Brennan (Victoria University), and Gary Fry. A copy of the SPERA 2015 Conference […]

Update from the President – July 2015

A great deal has been happening with SPERA and I am happy to highlight these activities in the July edition of our newsletter. This year has heralded the introduction of our online journal – that is right, the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education (AIJRE) has gone online and our first edition was released on Wednesday 20 May 2015. […]