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Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper

Rural and Remote

Education Inquiry Briefing Paper

4. Composition of rural and

remote recruits


An ideal staffing

situation in a school should include a mix of both new and experienced

teachers. In rural and remote schools, however, young and inexperienced

teachers make up the majority of the staff (Tomlinson 1994, page 70).

A combination of experienced and new staff provides an opportunity for

mentor relationships to develop. The transfer of experience and knowledge

from established staff to new staff can assist in the acculturation process.

New staff bring with them information about the current pedagogical theory

and innovative teaching strategies. This makes for a good mix of experience,

knowledge and innovation.

In WA the majority

of staff in positions outside of the metropolitan areas have less than

five years teaching experience (Tomlinson 1994, page 70). Across Australia

women make up the majority of teaching staff. In fact, women constitute

70% of the teaching profession and only 30% of the management positions

(Lisa Heap, Australian Education Union, Darwin public hearing, 10 May

1999). In rural and remote schools this gender demographic changes slightly.

There are increased numbers of male teachers in rural and remote schools

though women still constitute the majority (Tomlinson 1994).

If we were to build

a picture of the rural and remote teacher it would be that of a young

female with limited teaching experience. This raises some questions about

access to professional development, support and professional enhancement.

Distance and isolation are barriers to these resources and so many staff

in rural and remote placements work in professional isolation. Unless

the school has excellent leadership, this can be quite a hardship for

the beginning teacher.


to the Inquiry

In the

Northern Territory, as Australia-wide, there are few women in leadership

positions, albeit with a recent couple of noted exceptions in the Northern

Territory. This is not unique to the Northern Territory. Australia-wide,

women make up 70% of the education workforce and make up less than 30%

of those in leadership positions.

I'd like you

to ask to look, when you're going through your inquiry to some of the

remote locations in this system, at the number of young women who are

in teaching jobs in these communities (Lisa Heap, Australian Education

Union, Darwin public hearing, 10 May 1999).

Research indicates


The importance

of induction and mentorship programs for beginning professionals has received

attention in both urban and rural areas. Mentorship has long been recognised

as even more vital to beginning rural practitioners to overcome the tremendous

feeling of professional isolation that they experience in their first

year. The literature lends overwhelming support for induction and mentorship

programs for the beginning teacher (Hirsh). Not only does the induction

program benefit the beginning teacher but it also contributes to the professional

development of the more experienced teacher who acts as a mentor (Killion

1990) (Boylan & Bandy 1994, page 156).


updated 2 December 2001.