Issues and fixes raised at forum

Professor John Halsey heard from Dubbo stakeholders at a forum on Wednesday. Photo: JENNIFER HOAR
Professor John Halsey heard from Dubbo stakeholders at a forum on Wednesday. Photo: JENNIFER HOAR

Stakeholders from the Mudgee region and across the state’s west gathered at Dubbo College Senior campus on Wednesday for a forum as part of the government’s Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education.

Review leader Professor John Halsey chaired the forum, which explored a range of issues with the delivery of education in rural and remote areas.

More than 20 forums are being held nationwide, and Prof Halsey said the issues raised by teachers, parents and other stakeholders were consistent with those raised at others.

“One of the things that came up today are teachers and teacher quality and teacher capacity to really engage with students and lift learning,” Prof Halsey said.

“That speaks to not only what happens to teachers during the years of training but also, once they’re in positions, how you can get the most effective, ongoing, focused professional development.”

Some people raised the difficulties faced in attracting experienced teachers to rural areas, while others highlighted the difficulties faced in retaining teachers.

“Another one that came up again today is the complexity around voc ed (vocational education) – what’s available, to whom is it available, issues to do with quality,” Prof Halsey said.

Some schools have operated vocational training programs, he said, only to find their students weren’t industry-ready, possibly due to a lack of industry involvement in the training.

“We need to address things like that,” he said. “We also need to … ease the transition of young people from quite remote locations into larger population centres. The pragmatic cost to that as well as the emotional well being and support.”

Most of the solutions put forward were based on the premise that education was key to ensuring vibrant and productive rural communities. But some went further, suggesting that government investment in rural jobs could improve the aspiration and educational outcomes of rural students.

Professor Halsey’s report is due to be delivered to the government by the end of the year.