South Australia’s first ever Country Education Strategy will improve the equity of opportunity for school students in the regions and help achieve our world-class ambition for South Australia’s public education system.
Backed by an initial $15m investment over three years, the strategy aims to improve access to support services for country students and remove some of the barriers to attracting and retaining staff.
The strategy will also ensure that country perspectives are given greater prominence in the development and delivery of Department for Education programs and policies.
Minister for Education John Gardner said the strategy sets some clear priorities for action in areas that will help achieve world-class education for every country student.
“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to improving opportunities for those who live and work in our regions and delivering world-class education for every child and young person, in every classroom right across the state.
“We have already made a significant investment in country education with our record infrastructure program including new schools and school upgrades, as well as the delivery of high-speed internet connectivity to our schools and preschools.
“There is still more work to be done, but we are confident we can support every student in country South Australia to be their best.
“We aim to get better at attracting and retaining staff, including making sure there is a stronger pipeline of teachers supported to transition from university to the country.
“We will do this by working with South Australian universities to support student teachers with teaching placements in our regions.
“The key is helping staff moving to a regional area to connect with the local community and their colleagues, so they’ve got a great network around them and can picture a future there.”
The strategy also aims to improve the availability of quality relief teachers and broaden speech pathology and psychology services in country locations.
“We are very conscious that we need to address all the needs of every child regardless of where they live,” said Minister Gardner.
“We will be expanding the way we deliver key services such as speech therapy and psychological support so that we can better address underlying issues that might be preventing students from reaching their potential.
“The strategy aims to give country students access to a broader range of subjects.
“It also has a strong jobs focus and commits to giving students greater exposure to pathways that will support their transition to further education and employment.
“Importantly we’re also going to address some of the administrative burden that falls disproportionately on leaders in our smaller regional schools, with improvements to ICT infrastructure and better business support so that principals and preschool directors can focus more of their time on learning outcomes.”
Minister Gardner said the strategy has been developed referencing the Marshall Liberal Government’s Regional Development Strategy and will put a strong focus on addressing some of the challenges presented by our state’s size.
“Our state’s great size and regional diversity is a strength, but it does present challenges to our education system that require special focus,” said Minister Gardner.
“The development of the Country Education Strategy will bring greater energy to addressing some of the underlying issues that have led to regional students sometimes not doing as well as those in the city according to key measures including literacy, numeracy and SACE completion.”
The strategy was developed in consultation with regional principals and students, including representatives from the Rural Youth Ambassador Program which will receive further investment under the new initiative.
“A key part of the development of this strategy was taking the process out of the CBD and putting it into the regions it will serve,” said Minister Gardner.
“We have listened to educators, families and young people in the country, and I believe we have landed on a strategy that will make a meaningful contribution to taking the standard of education in SA from good to great.”
Further information can be found at the Country Education website.