So, why teach rural? Smaller class size? A true community experience? Stunning scenery and the wide-open road on your doorstep? These are just a handful of the positives of choosing rural teaching jobs over inner-city areas. In this week’s post, we explore the unique challenges and opportunities available when choosing a school in the more remote areas of Australia and New Zealand…
Firstly, a quick glossary on the types of schools you are likely to encounter:
- Rural schools – generally situated in small towns within agricultural areas. For example, Katanning in Australia. Rural schools can refer to primary schools or district high schools.
- Regional schools – usually refers to schools in larger regional areas such as Northam in Australia, or Waipawa in New Zealand. Regional schools are senior high schools or primary schools, but also may include education support centres.
Teaching Jobs in Rural and Regional Areas
A number of factors need to be kept in mind when considering teaching jobs in rural areas such as Mildura, Australia, or Waipu, New Zealand. You should be prepared for a unique and rewarding experience if this is your first teaching post in a rural setting: Teaching teams look out for each other. School principals are always ‘on the job’, viewed as approachable pillars of the community. You may find yourself pitching in with a local fundraiser to help with repairs to playground equipment. You’re likely to attend professional development online, although the signal may occasionally drop out!
In short, teaching in rural and remote areas is a real adventure. Contact one of our team members with localised expertise located in Australia or New Zealand if you’d like to talk options.
Overcoming the challenges in rural schooling
There have been reports of ‘inequities’ in Australian education. Whereby schools in more remote or regional areas are seen as disadvantaged in terms of funding, resources and staffing. The flip side of this is that these schools are appealing to teachers who wish to have a real and visible impact on a smaller community; to contribute their expertise to the lives of students who need it the most.
So, how can rural schools overcome these challenges to successfully support their students and teachers?
1. Through Innovative Schooling
To rise above any ‘inequities,’ rural schools must do things a little differently to meet the needs of students…
High performing rural schools are characterized by innovative leadership, a commitment to the community, and a strong focus on teaching and learning. As a member of a school with an innovative mission, you would have opportunities to participate in and collaborate on creative new ideas for stimulating learning.
High school teachers, or primary subject leads, are much more likely to have greater ownership over their subjects. As long as you meet the requirements of the curriculum, teachers can plan to their strengths and develop their passion for the subject. One of the most satisfying aspects of rural teaching jobs is overcoming challenges of inequity to deliver high-quality lessons.
Furthermore, it is likely that principals and school leaders will be more transparent about their decision making. Typically, class teachers can have more of a say in school matters. Ultimately, career progression can happen at an accelerated rate when compared to inner-city schools.
2. With A Sense of Community
Rural schools offer a much stronger sense of community and a connection to the region’s cultural history than those in urban areas. We’ve heard about parents teaming up to carpool students to school when the bus driver was unwell; of local farmers supporting children to plant, care for and sell hazelnuts and walnuts from nearby tree plantations; of teaching teams turning up at a colleague’s back yard to help put up a new fence.
Staff will often socialise outside of school creating a strong support network. Due to the smaller number of students, it is also much easier to build positive meaningful relationships with local families. They are likely to also be your neighbours!
Connection to indigenous communities
Another core part of school life in rural areas would include connection to local indigenous communities. School leaders collaborate with indigenous elders ensuring that local culture and history are incorporated into the school curriculum.
Consequently, teaching jobs in rural areas have a unique nature. Teachers who move to rural Australia or New Zealand can immerse themselves in the area’s indigenous cultures and their history.
3. Offering Support with Accommodation
One of the major benefits of choosing to teach in a rural schooling community is that most, if not all, offer accommodation assistance. This will vary from school to school but is something you should absolutely factor into your budgeting and planning. There is more information relevant to specific areas below:
4. Access to Government Assistance & other Employee Benefits
If you choose to teach in a very remote area, you may also be eligible for financial government assistance. The Australian Bureau of Statistics divides the country into 5 classes or remoteness. Additionally, the Department of Education provides a benefits calculator to give you an idea of the type of assistance you can expect.
In general, the cost of living and rental bills are going to be much more affordable in rural areas across New Zealand and Australia. Therefore, a rural teaching job is a fantastic option when budgeting for the future or even planning to raise a family.