Improving teaching in rural schools – we need to stop borrowing approaches from overseas

Simon White wrote in The Conversation on 6th September 2016

While statistics might show Australia has an oversupply of teachers, this masks the reality that many rural schools find it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain teachers.

This has dire consequences for the life opportunities for rural students, and contributes to the widening gap in educational results and pathways for young people born in rural communities compared to their urban counterparts.

While some policymakers might tend to look to countries such as England and the US for solutions, such models require further investigation before being adopted in to the Australian context.

Stop borrowing approaches from overseas

Australia needs a new approach to solve the rural staffing churn, and a solution might lie closer to home in investing in teacher educators’ professional learning rather than borrowing approaches from overseas.

Fast track teacher “training” programs such as Teach First in England and Teach for America seem like an appealing solution to solve the rural (and indeed remote) staffing crisis. But the logic is somewhat flawed.

The model presupposes that some people need less preparation time before being placed in the hardest to staff schools. It also only requires these people to stay for a maximum period of two years.

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