Education in Rural Australia Vol 14, No 1 (2004)
Some links between economic and social changes in rural area and the need for reform in rural education
John M Bryden
This paper discussed the principal economic and social changes taking place in rural areas of the OECD countries, identifies some of the key future challenges they face, and proposes some necessary shifts in the system of education of children and young people if these challenges are to be addressed.
Jack Shelton, Program for Rural Services and Research, University of Alabama
Giving All/Reaping Rewards: An Account of a new graduate teaching in remote Indigenous community schools
Christine Trimingham Jack, University of Canberra Heather Hitchon, Kulkarriya Community School
A number of remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory run their own independent schools. The communities are faced with a constant battle to recruit quality teachers to their schools and to attain a high level of literacy in their students. The 1996 National School English Survey reported that less than 20% of Year 3 Indigenous students met the reading standards with similar findings for Year 5 (Department of Education Science and Training, 1997). There is strong evidence that student achievement is significantly linked to committed and wellqualified teachers (DarlingHammond, 2000). The Commonwealth Government National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy (NIELNS) Report 2000 stated that recruiting ‘good teachers’ who are culturally aware and who can implement ‘best teaching methods’ are key elements in raising the literacy standard of Indigenous students (Department of Education Science and Training, 2000).
Excellent teachers are in demand and teachers tend to choose urban schools and the amenities they offer rather than remote schools (Department of Education Science and Training, 2000). The problem is exacerbated by the high attrition rate of early career teachers with up to 50% choosing to leave the profession in the first three to five years of service (Manuel, 2003: 140). There is a need for research on why good teachers stay (Manuel, 2003:141) even more so in contexts which are often seen as challenging settings such as remote schools with Indigenous students.
The NIELNS has resulted in the implementation of a number of projects designed to raise the literacy levels of Indigenous students. This paper is a narrative account offering insight into the inner life, experiences and decisionmaking processes of a targeted new graduate (coauthor Heather Hitchon) working in remote Indigenous community schools in Western Australia where one such project, the Scaffolding Literacy Program, is being used. It is a collaborative paper between the two authors, Heather and Christine who first met when Christine supervised Heather while she was completing her final professional experience subject (Teaching Internship) at the University of Canberra. The account indicates the deliate balance between an early career teacher in a remote setting wanting to rise to the challenge of teaching in a difficult setting and the ongoing tension between leaving and staying. It also illustrates the importance of a range of ongoing support as well as engagement in an effective teaching program to ensure successful teaching experiences in the early period of his or her teaching career.
Two cubed: A rationale for creating a community of professional learners at Charles Sturt University, Dubbo
Tony Loughland, School of Teacher Education, Charles Sturt University Daryl Healy, NSW Department of Education & Training
Teacher Education needs to move beyond the limitations of existing preservice and inservice courses. Instead, teacher education should be regarded as a career long process of professional learning ‘which takes place prior to and during preservice, and continues through induction and inservice’ (Gore, 1995). An important step in this direction is partnerships between schools and teacher education institutions in initial teacher preparation. Many such partnerships already occur across states and institutions. This paper outlines a rationale for a teacher education course that seeks to achieve a partnership between Charles Sturt University Dubbo and the Department of Education and Training (DET) in NSW within the framework of career long professional learning for teachers.
The existing political climate with the restructuring of the DET bureaucracy as well as the proposed NSW Institute of Teachers presents a serendipitous moment for the establishment of such a course. The course would follow what the author has termed the ‘two cubed’ model of teacher education. That is, the first two years of teacher education in the university, followed by two years in school based teacher education (SBTE) with the final two years as a beginning teacher mentored by both the training and employing institutions. The initial teacher education course will be the Trojan horse that makes professional learning a formal part of the teaching profession as the interaction between the DET and Charles Sturt University creates professional learning opportunities for existing teachers. This professional learning will be linked strongly to the bioregion of the MurrayDarling Basin, thus addressing both the ecological and social sustainability issues of this region. As well, the qualification gained will be for K10, addressing the needs of middle school students in central and high schools in the central west of New South Wales.