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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

Private Education Bias: The Role of Public Schools in Building Strong Rural Communities.

Name of Leader:

Rob Chattaway

Names of Participants:

Greg Mills, Megan McNichall, Kym McKage, Tonia Grundy, Liz Otto, Tony Nuram, Shane Flint, John Barker.

Main points of discussion

  • Schools have taken over a lot of the role of other institutions in community in relation to social development. I.e. churches
  • When students leave their local community to attend schools in large centres there is a loss of regional income, funds, talent etc…
  • Vibrant local public schools are very important. Funding of education in rural areas is ad hoc and focuses on short term solutions. Education needs to be valued at a local level.
  • Rural and regional schools are under resourced.
  • We need to ask “What are the things making people choose to send their children away to education” i.e. quality of education, hostels, boarding, school environment, calibre of staff,
  • School leadership is a major issue.
  • Increasing the critical mass in senior grades is important to increase the choice and potentially offer additional tertiary education choices at regional levels.
  • Perhaps private schools offer better leadership?
  • Supply teaching is a problem:
  • Due to lack of content, quality and continuity.
  • The role of School Councils was considered valuable and important, but has been undermined in many schools.
  • School Councils are based on having skilled people yet requires commitment and a strong underling philosophical base.
  • Stronger skilled communities are a major component of successful regional education. It needs dollars. It needs more than P&C Assoc. input. It requires empowerment of the school community, a sense of trust and can be complemented by “Building Rural Leaders” programs.
  • Some outstanding schools have enjoyed strong local political support in the past. I.e. Chinchilla, Kingaroy
  • Succession Planning in school leadership and staff changes has not been adequately catered for.
  • Glossy brochures seduce parents into a false sense of security about what a school is really offering.


  • How do we train teachers to live and work in rural communities
  • The profession must accept more responsibility and community needs to respond.
  • More teachers are staying longer, how do we improve this situation
  • Personal development programs for staff, students, community, parents
  • The 5 of people doing all the work. Need to identify ways to get rest of community involved.
  • Need for discrete rural education policy that acknowledges needs and differences, preparing teachers for service in rural areas. Recruitment of rural teachers, involvement of parents, community support.
  • Kids will do well where there is strong community and parent support regardless of the standard of resources.
  • More roles for technology in school programs. Use of community skills to supply teaching areas that are not available by school staff.
  • Engage local business experience.

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