In 2009 a group of tertiary educators from four universities in Western Australia with an interest and experience in rural, regional, and remote education, and especially in improving the attraction and retention of quality teachers to non-metropolitan locations, formed the Tertiary Educators Rural, Regional and Remote Network (TERRR Network). In 2010 the TERRR Network was successful in obtaining a grant from the Australian Council of Teaching and Learning (ALTC) now the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) to undertake a project titled: Developing Strategies at the Pre-service Level to Address Critical Teacher Attraction and Retention Issues in Australian Rural, Regional and Remote Schools.
The project started with the following broad outcomes and deliverables:
- Develop pre-service courses rural, regional and remote studies curriculum modules across four universities that can be used by other universities;
- Develop models of rural, regional or remote experiences for pre-service teachers who may be teaching in a variety of different locations such as a small rural farming community; a regional mining community; or a remote Indigenous community;
- Link theoretical and practical teaching and learning processes: e.g. practical field experiences into the curriculum and reflective journals;
- Document ways in which the participation rates of regional students and especially Indigenous Western Australians in teacher education programs can be increased;
- Develop tools to assist with the implementation of the institution based and field learning experiences, such as a practicum placement tool, modelled on the Queensland Rural and Remote Educators Network rural placement data base and in conjunction with the Society for the Provision of Education for Rural Australia (SPERA), an online networking tool to link pre-service teachers with an interest in rural experiences;
- Embed collaborative strategies between rural, regional and remote teacher educators across four universities in Western Australia;
- Improve communication between teacher educators and regional authorities;
- Provide opportunities for school students in rural, regional and remote locations to improve their knowledge about teacher education programs and becoming a member of the teaching profession;
- Expand the research associated with rural, regional and remote education;
- Provide an interim report, including a financial and progress summary at the end of year one; and
- Provide the final project report following the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Grants Scheme Guidelines.
The outcomes have been made available on the SPERA website and in electronic format on a CD. The report reviewing the project outcomes and the development of the Training Framework for Producing Quality Graduates to Work in Rural, Regional and Remote Australia contains seven chapters.
Support for this publication has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.
The project team also put forward the following four recommendations. These recommendations were first put forward at the Summit 2011- Rural Futures Matter- A Sustainable Australia held at Flinders in September 2011. The project team were well represented at the Summit and believe the four recommendations are highly relevant to the continuation of the work started by this and other project.
- That the Australian Government makes resources available comparable to that which occurs in medicine to prepare rural GP and other health professionals, so pre-service teacher education students have the option of taking a fully funded semester length rural/remote/regional professional placement and appropriate resourcing is allocated to support teacher educators to properly prepare, support and debrief teacher education students who take a rural/remote/ regional placement.
- That pre-service and early career Country Teaching Scholarships be available to all candidates willing to do a practicum or internship in non-metropolitan locations.
- That the Australian Government makes available resources to RRRTEC, the TERRR Network and other similar projects for the development of rural, regional and remote curriculum materials to be used by universities in their teacher education courses.
- That the Australian Government encourages all universities to incorporate in their teacher education programs an understanding of the importance of the rural, remote and regional context especially for the development of strategies to engage with parents/care givers, local businesses and local communities.