Student teachers embrace rural experience

Country communities and their schools have won the hearts of Macquarie University education students who spent a week learning about the advantages of teaching in regional and rural schools.

The Macquarie University students, most of whom grew up in the city, visited schools in the Orange, Blayney and Molong areas, around 250 kilometres west of their university.

Some were in 'bush schools' with just two classes covering all grades while five shadowed teachers at Molong Central which has students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

The Macquarie University students were the latest group participating in a successful Department of Education and Communities initiative, Beyond the Line.

Over the years Beyond the Line has encouraged teaching graduates to broaden their horizons to consider working in more remote and regional schools.

It does this by giving them an insight into the professional prospects and lifestyle options through spending time in schools and with teachers.

While feedback from the latest cohort to complete the program emphasised the friendliness and hospitality it had encountered, there was also appreciation of the quality of teaching and learning and resourcing of schools.

"It was a culture shock in a great way," said Marnie Wirth, who spent three days at Blayney Public School.

"(Blayney Public) is a wonderful school and there is amazing learning.

"The technology is phenomenal and well used by teachers in every classroom and there is a great support system."

Bridgette Kell-Clarke, who was hosted by Nashdale Public School near Orange, said her experience was the "complete opposite" to what she anticipated.

Her lasting memory would be Kindergarten/Year 1 learners sitting on the knees of students in the "middle class" who were mentoring them in Mathletics.

"It was really special," Ms Kell-Clarke said. "The quality of school life out here is something that is really amazing.

"These are engaged, active learners who loved being at school."

Natalie Howard, who was the only secondary trainee hosted by Molong Central School, said she would be thrilled to return to a country school to work as an English-history teacher.

"I was struck by the intense community feel that comes from having students from Kindergarten to Year 12," Ms Howard said.

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