I remember spending much of my high school education at Cowra High School staring out the window wondering when the content of the lesson would peak my interest. These days I suppose I would have ended up in the gifted and talented class if it existed at my school.
Everybody wants the best education for their children
I wasn’t gifted and talented at everything. OMG my maths teacher (the gorgeous Mr Hannah who ended up head teacher of Maths at Riverview) poured his heart and soul into me to no avail despite his best efforts but I certainly had the occasional champion teacher who recognised my strengths and did their best to progress them. Sadly at that time I wasn’t savvy enough to recognise how much these people could have opened my eyes to the career pathways I could have followed.
In my day bright students in rural and regional Australia were encouraged by Careers Advisors to become Doctors & Vets. With neither of these careers appealing to me (mainly because I just knew I couldn’t operate on living/breathing people /animals ) I decided my career pathway lay in becoming a lawyer or a pharmacist.
It appeared my destiny was determined when I got an early entry scholarship to do arts/law at ANU but when all of my friends chose Sydney Uni I decided pharmacy was for me (mainly because at the time it was the shortest degree that offered the best earning opportunities for women – see footnote)
Recently Adrian Piccoli Minister for Education in NSW announced
TEACHERS will be offered $10,000 cash, heavily subsidised rent and 10-week trial periods among incentives to get more staff into hard-to-fill classrooms in some of the most isolated regions.
The measures were part of an $80 million plan announced yesterday in a bid to lift results in struggling remote and regional schools.
But principals said better incentives were needed to attract and keep high-quality teachers to rural and remote areas after decades of government neglect.
More than $30 million has been set aside over the next four years for the teacher incentives, as well as $8 million for the creation of a “virtual secondary school” – offering online subjects and selective classes which would otherwise be unavailable in remote areas.
I have just spent the last fortnight travelling between ACT, western NSW to Trangie and Junee and to Rockhampton in Queensland with the art judge for the Archibull Prize and I can assure you those teachers Adrian Piccoli is hoping to attract with his incentive schemes are already in rural and regional Australia and Art4Agriculture has identified many of them.
Its time Adrian Piccoli and people like him went to Northlakes High School, Tuggerah Lakes Secondary School Berkeley Vale Campus, Shoalhaven High School, Junee High School, Boorowa Central School and Trangie Central School, Gunnedah High School and Theodore Primary School (ACT) to name but a few and talked to these teachers and listened. Like most things we need to listen to the best marketing advice – spend your time and money on retaining the customers you have rather than wasting energy and dollars on attracting new ones.
After visiting these schools I can assure you Adrian Piccoli champion teachers in Rural and Regional Australia can deliver the best and the brightest equally as any school you nominate in NSW. You just have to invest in their communities, their schools and them and their peers will follow.
Footnote: Pharmacy in my day was a wonderful career choice for people who really cared about people sadly today Federal Government policy often drives economics over community good outcomes