Hundreds of teaching students at university will be given a unique opportunity to get a taste of country life every year through a week-long tour of selected regional, rural, and remote NSW public schools.
A re-elected Nationals Government will double, to 400, the number of undergraduates given the chance to participate in the relaunched Beyond the Line program each year.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the commitment was part of a dedicated strategy to encourage more teachers to work in the bush as part of The Nationals long-term economic plan for the state.
“Having worked as a regional teacher previously, our regional, rural and remote communities are fantastic places to live and work and we want to be able to showcase that to the next generation of student teachers,” Mr Toole said.
“While we have the most comprehensive financial incentives on offer to encourage teachers to move to the bush, a tour of our country schools is the best thing we can do to give them first-hand insight into what it would be like to work in these great towns and school communities.”
Nationals’ Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said she was pleased to expand the Beyond the Line program to more students than ever before.
“I recently met with a principal who grew up on the coast, but after visiting a remote school in far western NSW while on the Beyond the Line tour, fell in love with the local community, moved there, and never looked back,” Ms Mitchell said.
“That is an incredible Beyond the Line program success story and it’s not the only one. To be able to give more aspiring teachers the opportunity to experience country life for themselves is incredibly exciting.
“While we have a plan to get more inspiring teachers into our regional classrooms, NSW Labor has nothing to offer our regional students or families.”
School tour locations for Beyond the Line will be based on availability but could include Lithgow, Dubbo, Coonabarabran and Tamworth. Applications will open in July ahead of the tour in September.
The application process will prioritise those studying in subject areas of higher demand, such as technological and applied studies, mathematics and science.
Participants will be encouraged and supported to complete a future rural work placement through the Rural Experience Program or to commence employment in a rural setting following graduation.
NSW has the most comprehensive rural and remote incentives scheme in Australia and, subject to eligibility, teachers can access up to $40,000 on top of their base salary annually, plus an additional $20,000 recruitment bonus. The NSW Nationals have also invested more than $20 million in teacher housing in priority areas. In 2022, the incentives program supported 1,700 teachers in regional, rural, and remote schools.
In addition, the NSW Nationals Government is making sure we have the best teachers in our classrooms by supporting our students with a guaranteed six per cent pay rise for teachers over the next two years, and a $100 million commitment to pay excellent teachers’ salaries of up to $152,000.