$80m to boost student results in rural and remote schools

7 November 2013

The Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli today announced $80 million over four years to improve student learning in rural and remote public schools across the State.

Mr Piccoli said the NSW Government's Rural and Remote Education Blueprint for Action aims to bridge the gap in educational achievement between rural and remote, and metropolitan schools.

The key actions in the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint include:

  • Over $30 million over four years to provide new incentives to attract and retain quality teachers and school leaders in rural and remote schools;
  • $15 million over four years to support student wellbeing by establishing 15 specialist centres to offer coordinated inter-agency health and wellbeing services;
  • $8 million over four years to give students in rural and remote schools access to a broad range of curriculum opportunities, including for gifted and talented students, through the creation of a virtual secondary school;
  • $4 million over four years to strengthen early childhood education for children in rural and remote communities.

Mr Piccoli said funding for the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint is in addition to the $35 million in capital works recently directed to the 15 Connected Communities schools in rural NSW.

"Over $30 million will be allocated over four years for new incentives to attract quality teachers and school leaders to rural and remote areas," Mr Piccoli said.

"Principals in our most remote schools will now be able to permanently employ high performing temporary teachers and staff; they will be able to offer 10-week trial programs; $10,000 recruitment incentives, as well as rental subsidies.

"Incentives will also be provided for teacher education students who take professional experience placements in rural and remote schools. These incentives are in addition to the new 20 teach.Rural scholarships, and 10 cadetships and internships to start in 2014.

"$8 million has been provided to establish a new ‘virtual' secondary school, giving high school students in rural and remote areas the opportunity to study specialist subjects not available in their own school. The new virtual school will also offer selective classes to cater specifically for gifted and talented secondary students wanting to study courses such as extension mathematics, science and engineering studies.

"In addition, the Department will establish more opportunity classes for gifted and talented Year 5 and 6 students in rural and remote primary schools."

Mr Piccoli said the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint also aims to give children in rural and remote areas more opportunity to access quality early childhood education.

"A further $4 million over four years will be allocated to rural and remote preschools to improve access for ‘hard to reach' children through transport options and other outreach initiatives," Mr Piccoli said.

"$15 million over four years will be allocated to support the establishment and operation of specialist centres that will co-ordinate interagency health and wellbeing services, drawing on the particular expertise of school staff, and other government and non-government agencies.

"In 2014, existing centres in Dubbo and Wagga Wagga will be extended to provide expertise in such areas as education psychology, school attendance and student health, and new centres will be established in Broken Hill and Tamworth. By the end of 2016 there will be a total of 15 specialist centres operating in rural and remote NSW."

Mr Piccoli said the NSW Government recently announced that $100 million in additional equity funding would be distributed to public schools in 2014 on two new funding loadings for low socio-economic and Aboriginal backgrounds.

"Schools in Western NSW alone will receive an extra $21 million under these loadings, and for the first time, all 49,000 Aboriginal students in NSW public schools will receive funding support.

"Schools on the North Coast will receive an additional $9.3 million under the RAM; schools in the Hunter will receive an additional $19.9 million; and schools in South East NSW will receive an additional $6.3 million under the two new loadings."

"It is principals, teachers, school staff and parents who know students best. This is why, on full implementation of the new RAM, schools will manage more than 70% of the state public school education budget, compared with just 10% now."

Mr Piccoli said the actions in the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint are based on consultation with principals and student leaders, along with evidence from Australia and abroad.  

"They complement and build on the broad reform agenda already commenced under this Government with initiatives such as Local Schools, Local Decisions, Great Teaching, Inspired Learning, Connected Communities and Every Student, Every School," Mr Piccoli said. 

Find out more information about the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint for Action.

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