A record number of Australian Catholic University pre-service teachers have headed into regional, rural, and remote areas nationally to complete their teaching placements this year.
More than 250 teaching students will have travelled far and wide to learn on the job by the end of 2022, compared with 122 in 2018, and 134 in both 2019 and last year.
ACU National Head of the School of Education Professor Donna King said the increase was due to a combination of students wanting to experience teaching in regional and rural areas, as well as successful ACU-led initiatives and new partnership programs.
“ACU and our students themselves recognise the importance of having placements in regional, rural, and remote areas, which aligns with our mission to educate pre-service teachers who are ready to serve communities most in need,” Professor King said.
“We have established successful partnerships with local communities, departments of education, schools, and Catholic dioceses across the country to boost these numbers.”
This year, ACU’s NSW School of Education has worked closely with the Armidale and Bathurst dioceses, as well as the NSW Department of Education, to encourage more students to complete their placements outside of metropolitan areas.
ACU’s Victorian School of Education has focused on providing rural and regional placement opportunities through Swan Hill and Horsham placement hubs in the state’s north-west, with students also currently heading to areas including Bendigo, and Gippsland.
In Queensland, partnerships with dioceses located in Rockhampton, Townsville, Toowoomba, and Cairns have led to placements in rural, regional, and remote towns located up to 950 kilometres away from Brisbane.
Last year, 45 NSW and ACT-based pre-service teachers did placements outside of metropolitan areas, compared with about 76 this year. In the same timeframe, the numbers have also increased from 30 to about 64, and 104 to about 117 in Queensland and Victoria respectively.
“It’s a wonderful outcome and we are committed to continuing this trend nationally,” Professor King said.
Queensland Head of the School of Education Dr Tracey Sanders said having placements at schools in regional and remote areas was an exciting opportunity for pre-service teachers.
“For students to travel more than 900 kilometres away from Brisbane to work in schools provides them with quite a different opportunity to their city experiences,” she said.
“We are hoping they will love it so much they will want to return to these regions as teachers on graduation.”
NSW Deputy Head of the School of Education Dr Chrissy Monteleone said having increasing numbers of NSW and ACT students who wanted to have experiences in rural and regional schools was a win for all.
“We are building diverse teachers. It’s important for these communities to see diversity in the profession. The students in those schools also see the possibility of being a teacher, and our students see opportunities to work in different environments,” she said.
Victorian Head of the School of Education Dr Matthew Zbaracki said students were thrilled to potentially establish their careers and learn more about the profession by working in such settings.
“We have purposefully created placement hubs in areas that can be hard to staff to the benefit of our pre-service teachers and the wonderful schools in these communities,” Dr Zbaracki said.
This article originally appeared as a media release from the Australian Catholic University.