2021 AREAs

The 2021 Australian Rural Education Awards were announced at the National Conference for Regional, Rural and Remote Education Webinar on 24 May 2021. Since 1994, the Australian Rural Education Award (AREA) has been awarded annually to an institution, organisation or industry to recognise excellence in rural education in Australia.

2019 SPERA Annual General Meeting

The 2019 SPERA Annual General Meeting took place on: Thursday, 3rd October 2019.   The following members were nominated and elected to the Executive Committee: Serena Burnett Joel Davis Chris Ronan Carol Steel Melyssa Fuqua Samantha Avitaia Nina Fotinatos Ian McIntosh Monica Davis Sue Ledger Jane Downey Jaimey Facchin Brian O’Neill Bronwyn Relf Chris Reading […]

2018 Annual General Meeting

Attracting Teachers to Schools in Rural and Remote Areas in Australia

Region-related disparities are among the main factors that explain differences in access and equity in education (Lee, 2001). Schools in remote and rural areas often have difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff with certain qualifications and experience, and preparing them to address the educational complexity in these areas, such as multi-grade settings and specific student […]

Attracting Teachers to Schools in Rural and Remote Areas in Australia

  Region-related disparities are among the main factors that explain differences in access and equity in education (Lee, 2002). Schools in remote and rural areas often have difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff with certain qualifications and experience, and preparing them to address the educational complexity in these areas, such as multi-grade settings and specific […]

2018 SPERA Annual General Meeting

SPERA Annual General Meeting 2018 was held at Curtin University Perth on 30th November 2018 The following were nominated and accepted for Executive. President: Brian O’Neill Vice President: Sue Ledger Treasurer: Chris Reading International Liaison: Jayne Downey Meeting/Minutes: Bronwyn Relf Membership and Social Media: Sonal Singh Website: Samantha Avitaia and Jaimey Facchin AAAE representative: Melyssa […]

Media Release: Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education

13th April 2018 The report on an extensive review to guide efforts to overcome the educational divide between capital cities and regional and rural areas is now available to the public. The Coalition Government today released the final report of the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education, led by Emeritus Professor Dr John […]

May 2016 Newsletter

From the President Mr Brian O’Neill Welcome to the first edition of our newsletter for the 2016. A great deal has been happening with SPERA and I am happy to highlight these activities in this edition. Highlights featured in this Newsletter include the 31st National SPERA Conference which was held at Deakin University’s Waterfront Campus […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

July 2015 Newsletter

From the President Mr Brian O’Neill Welcome to the first edition of our newsletter for the 2015/16 financial year. A great deal has been happening with SPERA and I am happy to highlight these activities in this edition. This year has heralded the introduction of our online journal – that is right, the Australian and […]

October 2013 Newsletter

From the President Karen Noble Welcome to the final newsletter for 2013. Following the recent AGM it is my pleasure to welcome new members to the SPERA Executive team and to thank those returning for another year of service. As you will see from my Presidential report included in full in the newsletter, 2012/2013 has […]

June 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of the SPERA Newsletter for 2013.  Our sincere apologies for the lateness of this.  We will endeavour to have the next newsletter out on schedule. In this edition: ISFIRE 2013 Pre-Service Educator Scholarship Winners Comments ISFIRE Photographs What Delegates thought of ISFIRE WACUTS Program AITSL Illustrations of practice Innovation in […]

November 2012 Newsletter

Welcome all to SPERA’s November 2012 newsletter. In particular I would like to note that Dr Karen Noble (University of Southern Queensland) is now the elected President of SPERA. Karen has included a welcome message for members. Highlights include: From the President: Welcome Message SPERA Annual Report 2012 ISFIRE 2013 (note dates to 13-15 February […]

August 2012 Newsletter

From the President SPERA once again has much pleasure in forwarding the August edition of our newsletter to you.   We trust you are all keeping well. The main focus of the last three months has been finalising the organisation the 28th National SPERA Conference. SPERA is partnering with the School of Education, University of Southern […]

March 2012 Newsletter

Welcome all to SPERA’s first newsletter for 2012. Already the year has been busy for SPERA with the Executive continuing or taking on new portfolios. In particular I would like to highlight the role taken on by Dr Karen Noble (University of Southern Queensland) for hosting the 2012 28th SPERA National Conference at the University’s […]

Newsletter November 2011

The last 12 months have been busy ones for SPERA. This brief report attempts to capture the highlights and directions of our small but growing organisation over the past year. The report concludes by highlighting a number of areas that need attention as SPERA moves forward over the next 12 months. Thank you to the […]

Newsletter August 2011

From the President SPERA has much pleasure in forwarding the August edition of our newsletter to you. We trust you are all keeping well. I hope you will be able to participate in the SUMMIT as the agenda looks extremely interesting. Download the program: SUMMIT 2011 Rural Futures Matter: A Sustainable Australia. The main focus […]

Newsletter April 2011

From the President It is difficult to believe we are almost half way through April already. I hope the year is going well for you. The planning for SUMMIT 2011 is keeping the SPERA Conference Planning Committee busy as we head towards the SUMMIT dates 21 – 23 September 2011. There is an article in […]

Newsletter October 2010

President’s Welcome Summit 2010 Eye’s Wide Open – Meghan Clarke (Pre-Service Teacher Scholarship winner – sponsored by ICPA Queensland Small Schools Matter – Prof John Halsey Conference 2010 Photos Dr Bruce Flegg – Conference 2010 Opening Address Membership Form 2010-2011 SPERA Executive Continue reading SPERA Newsletter October 2010 (2MB)