Rural revival: Bringing teachers bush
Teachers are the most important factor in improving our children’s academic success and as a Party whose sole focus is to represent regional, rural and remote Australia, The Nationals have long campaigned for improved standards of teaching in our electorates.
Thanks to our continued push, the NSW Government has created a $59.4 million initiative to boost the number of experienced and quality teachers in over 150 rural and remote NSW schools.
The Rural and Remote Teacher Initiative addresses the shortages of highly accomplished teachers in the bush by building upon already successful scholarship programs, boosting incentives, better promoting rural career and lifestyle opportunities, and creating a new teacher exchange program for urban and provincial teachers.
Since it was first implemented in 2013, demand for places in the "teach.Rural" scholarship program has increased year on year. Under the new initiative, "teach.Rural" scholarships places will increase to 60 a year (up from 50) as will their value, from $6,000 a year to $7,500. Recipients who achieve a credit average or above will also have their HECS fees paid for.
There will also be benefits for temporary and permanent teachers working in rural or remote public schools.
Whilst creating the Initiative, researchers determined there was a strong link between tenure in remote schools and the duration of the retention benefit, hence for permanent teachers, the $5,000 retention benefit will be paid for up to 10 years where it currently stands at five and the program will expand for an extra 150 teachers a year.
As well as this, permanent teachers will be eligible for the new $30,000 Base Incentive Package that allows teachers choose how their incentives are allocated – through rental subsidies, cash or further learning.
To ensure temporary teachers who go bush, stay bush rental subsidies will also be established for eligible teachers and their transfer into permanent teaching positions will be fast-tracked.
A Rural Teacher Experience Program has also been developed as part of the Rural and Remote Teachers Initiative that will allow teachers from metro regions to get a taste of country life by providing them with the opportunity to teach at a rural or remote school for up to four school terms.
Mixing city-dwelling teachers with country educators will not only increase diversity and breadth of experience in these schools but provide a professional learning experience for both the teacher on exchange and those already at the school.
Together with the Department of Education’s current initiatives, the Government’s new Rural and Remote Teacher Initiative hopes to create a larger pool of educators looking to teach in rural or remote areas which in turn will give schools greater choice in candidate selection and benefit thousands of country kids.