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ECU working to alleviate teacher shortages in regional schools

Thursday, 10 April 2008

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Staffing rural, remote and regional schools is an increasing concern for education departments around Australia and researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) are working to alleviate the problem.

ECU, in collaboration with Charles Sturt University, the University of Ballarat and Deakin University, is studying successful strategies for preparing, attracting and retaining high-quality teachers in regional schools.

The project, TERRA nova ('new ground' in Teacher Education for Rural and Regional Australia), is seeking the views of rural communities where new teachers come to live and work.

Dr Graeme Lock, ECU's Program Director of Primary Education, says the role of communities in retaining their teachers is important, and is generally overlooked in studies of this nature.

"The TERRA nova project will examine current incentive schemes that attempt to lure teachers into regional areas, and will also study measures within universities to equip new teachers with skills to address the specific needs and circumstances of rural areas" Dr Lock explained.

As well as attracting teachers to these areas, retaining quality teachers in rural areas is also vital according to Dr Lock.

"We are looking to identify rural schools with successful recruitment and retention strategies," he said.

"We hope community members and parents will nominate schools where they feel the teachers are staying long enough to really engage with students and achieve successful outcomes. We will then study these communities in order to determine both individual and general characteristics of the locations that provide good educational and social well-being for new teachers."

ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox, said as one of the largest teacher education institutes in Australia, ECU consistently works to help address teacher shortage issues.

"ECU's School of Education is committed to working with government, communities and schools to share expertise and research and to contribute to the development of a quality education for Australia's children" he said.

The TERRA nova project has received $245,000 in funding from the Australian Research Council and is due for completion in 2010.

Nominations close on Friday, 16 May and are welcome from all sections of the community. To nominate your local school, please contact Dr Lock on 08 9370 6529, or email g.lock@ecu.edu.au.

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Media contact:

Corporate Communications
(08) 6304 2131
0402 016 344
pr@ecu.edu.au
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