Education in Rural Australia Vol 13, No 1 (2003)

Volume 13 (2) 2003sized

Journal Papers

Quantifying Access Disadvantage and Gathering Information in Rural and Remote Localities: The Griffith Service Access Frame

Dr. Dennis A. Griffith, Rural Education Research and Development Centre, James Cook University of North Queensland


This paper argues that a purely geographic classification is not the best way to determine objective measures of rural disadvantage in Australia. What is required is an objective, accurate, research­based and independently validated classification that can be used to inform policy decisions and strategies to improve the lives of rural and remote Australians, especially Indigenous Australians in these areas. The Griffith Service Access Frame (GSAF) was developed by the author, specifically to quantify the service access of population centres in rural and remote areas of Australia. The model allows any population centre in the nation to be scored according to its Population Size; the Time, Cost and Distance factors associated with accessing a given level of services; and the Economic Resources that the population can apply to the task of overcoming access disadvantage.

Responding to Isolation and Educational Disadvantage

Don Squires


A good deal of the rural education literature from the twentieth century routinely associates geographic isolation with educational disadvantage. As analyses have become more sophisticated, more attention has been given to the understanding of differences and specific needs exhibited by isolated communities and of ways of responding to these in a more focused way. This paper will provide a way of conceptualising the relationships between components of isolation (the concrete, tangible and actual, as well as the subjective, perceptual and constructed) and will examine ways in which various responses to isolation can impact on educational practices and outcomes. The paper will argue that there is, within this matrix of responses, a ‘sweet spot’ or optimal site for educational interventions that are designed to address disadvantage.

Whose School? Which Community?

Dr Andrea Allard, Faculty of Education, Deakin University Dr Von Sanderson, Aboriginal Research Institute, University of South Australia


In this paper, we take up the theme, ‘The School as a Centre in the Community’ in light of a research project that we conducted in a remote community in South Australia in 2001. In this project, ‘Engaging Students In Education Through Community Empowerment’, we set out to explore with Aboriginal parents, Aboriginal students, teachers and representatives of the various agencies operating in the area how groups within the community understood the issues of early exiting Aboriginal students.

Where to for Place-­Based Learning?

Ivan Searston


What role has ‘place’ in education? School at the Center, a U.S. initiative that falls into the category of ‘place-­based education’ has demonstrated significant improvements in educational outcomes while, at the same time, contributing to rural community development. To explore the transferability of the program to Australian conditions, The Rural Education Research and Development Centre at James Cook University, assisted with Federal funds, undertook to trial the School at the Center ideas in North Queensland. The trial showed that the ideas were transferable and had significant impacts on educational outcomes and student engagement; generated a deal of public interest in the media and in local communities; and promoted closer relations between teachers, students, their schools and their communities.

Following comments from some teachers involved in the trial about the lack of introduction of beginning teachers to such effective educational strategies, consideration turned to making the results of the trial available to institutions involved in pre­service training of teachers.

But teacher training programs do not have much room for new content to be added and, for new material to be really considered, there must be a strong academic and theoretical base for the initiative as well as the evidence that ‘it works’.

School at the Center is an example of place­based education. Therefore there should be a strong academic and theoretical understanding of what ‘place’ means to education. However, while place is considered in other disciplinary areas, its meaning for education appears to be largely unexplored.