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Students at regional schools will have more choice in subjects, high performing teachers will be encouraged to teach in the country and a dedicated education team will be based in the bush to drive better results.
A new regional education plan will be a key element of the NSW government’s revised 20-year economic strategy as it rebuilds after drought, bushfires, floods and COVID-19.
Students will have access to a greater range of subjects and resources.
An independent review into regional, rural and remote education in 2018 found 78 per cent of students in major cities completed year 12, compared with 43 per cent in very remote areas.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro will launch the education plan as part of the updated 20-year economic vision for regional NSW in the Clarence Valley on Wednesday.
An initial plan was released in 2018 but had to be significantly reworked in response to the impact of natural disasters and the pandemic.
The government says the updated plan will identify emerging sectors and future industries for investment, 50 new priorities to drive long-term stimulus and set out a plan for jobs and population growth in regional NSW.
Mr Barilaro said the government was committed to improving opportunities for country students.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro.
The government highlighted the need to address rural and remote education outcomes in 2013, but acknowledged more still needs to be done.
The strategy will increase the number of new graduates in rural and remote schools, and drive targets to attract experienced teachers from metropolitan schools and retain them in the bush.
High-achieving students will have access to a greater range of advanced subjects and resources through online classrooms.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell.
“As a regionally-based MP, I know that historically schools in the bush haven’t had the same
level of access to facilities and quality education as their peers in the city,” Mr Barilaro said.
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said more than 1000 public schools, including 22 preschools, would benefit from the dedicated education unit to be based in a rural centre.
“When we look at results, despite good efforts from our government and teachers, there is still a gap when you look at HSC completions, enrolments in early childhood education, the whole gamut,” she said.
“I want a policy unit that can drive that and make it happen, and I think it’s very important those people are based in regional NSW and not in Parramatta.”
Ms Mitchell said the strategy was designed to give all students the same opportunities.
Student attendance rates sit at more than 92 per cent in major cities, 89 per cent in regional areas and less than 84 per cent in remote and very remote areas.
The rural and remote education strategy was developed following more than 2200 consultations with teachers, school communities and education experts and will include a boost to infrastructure spending, digital intervention and greater Vocational Education Training (VET) for senior students.
The bush-based policy unit will oversee the strategies key objectives, including expanding partnerships with universities to increase placements of final-year teaching students in rural and remote schools.
Other strategies include improving student access to tailored careers education programs and embedding Aboriginal culture into classroom practice.
Ms Mitchell said the silver lining of the pandemic was that it had showed professional industries they could live and work remotely in regional and rural NSW.
“It’s about making sure people see education as an attractive reason to move to the bush rather than a deterrent,” she said.
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