Rural and Remote
Education Inquiry Briefing Paper
5. Retention of staff
The stability of
a school is dependent to some extent on the stability of the staffing
arrangements. A constant turnover of staff can cause difficulties for
school curriculum programs and affect the learning outcomes for the children.
Curriculum is sometimes
repeated by staff who have no idea of what has been taught before. New
staff must adjust to new children and build trust, just as students have
to adjust to new staff members. Teaching styles and teaching strategies
must be relatively consistent. The development of literacy requires the
learning of literacy tools. When teachers change, so may the literacy
approach. One teacher may favour the phonic approach to literacy while
another may use the whole word approach. This can cause some confusion
for children as they learn the literacy tools. Continuity of staff is
therefore an important goal for rural and remote schools.
The challenge for
education bodies across Australia is to increase the retention rates of
staff in rural and remote schools. These teachers do not feel inclined
to stay past a minimum period when the conditions under which they operate
are isolating and under resourced.
cited concern that rural communities must acknowledge and address in their
recruitment and retention practices is isolation. Research conducted on
rural professionals who leave their communities after a short time clearly
establishes isolation as the main reason.
In some rural
communities, the professional will encounter other cultures and world
views to the one(s) they know. These differences can be exciting, challenging
and inviting to participate in the new rural culture, as well as being
sources of anxiety, isolation and alienation. In the more isolated and
remote rural locations where the rural professional interacts with the
dominant Aboriginal culture, the process of adjustment and socialisation
may be more difficult. Research by Crowther (1988) on teachers in Aboriginal
communities in rural Queensland and the Northern Territory suggested
that the differences in cultural perspectives were one of the main contributory
factors in the high turnover rate of these professionals.
of integration into the local community in which the rural teacher and
professional work is likely to exert an influence - possible consideration-
upon their preparedness to stay .. Boylan (1991) found that long-staying
rural teachers believed on the whole, their work was valued by their
communities, their contributions to the community were valued and the
community valued having the teacher living locally (Boylan & Bandy
1994, page 154).
updated 2 December 2001.