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ECU Panning for Gold with Country Study Tour Initiative

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

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ECU’s School of Education is heading to the country to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing Western Australia’s education system.

From March 19 through to 23 this year, the school sent a delegation of nine pre-service secondary teachers to the regional mining town of Kalgoorlie for a study tour.

Rather than simply aiming to engage students and enhance their study experience, the study tour is part of a broader strategy for the School to provide a solution to a real-world problem.

Associate Professor Andrew Jones, Head of the Secondary education program at ECU, explained that universities have a tangible role to play in addressing the needs of country partner schools.

“A constant challenge faced by schools in the state’s regional, rural and remote areas is not just attracting quality teachers – it is retaining them in the long term,” he explained.

Many educators who undertake a regional teaching posting may only remain in the position for a year or two before returning to a metropolitan school, meaning country schools face a constant process of scouting for new talent.

Associate Professor Jones said ECU’s new approach aimed to play a part in changing this paradigm.

“If our students are more familiar with regional, rural and remote settings, especially early in their course, they may be more inclined to seek country placements in the later years of their degree,” he said.

“In turn, we hope this will build a pipeline to feed a steady stream of students to these locations and build meaningful relationships with schools.

“In short, this makes it more likely they will stay in the town and make a longer contribution to the local community.”

During the Kalgoorlie Study Tour, pre-service secondary teachers had the opportunity to shadow mentor teachers and engage with students from Eastern Goldfields College, Kalgoorlie Boulder Community High School and John Paul College.

Students also garnered cultural insights through experiences like panning for gold, searching for yabbies at Lake Douglas and visiting the Super Pit.

Further regional study tours are now on the horizon, offering students the chance to gain insight into professional practice while also helping country schools to attract the high calibre of teachers ECU is famous for.

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