Preparing teachers for rural appointments: Lessons from Australia
National Rural Education Association
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
Education authorities continue to experience difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers in rural and remote schools. In Western Australia (WA), a state noted for its vastness and number of schools located in rural and remote settings, a scheme developed by the Western Australian Department of Education and Training (DET) and the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy aims to address this challenge by offering financial support to student teachers who wish to undertake their final practicum in a remote or rural education district in which they hope to work after graduation. The Student Teacher Rural Experience Program (STREP) assists with return travel costs and a weekly stipend for the duration of the practicum. The DET specifies the particular districts to which the STREP will apply and applicants need to satisfy a number of selection criteria. In 2005 a survey involving 2004 and 2005 STREP participants was undertaken to ascertain their opinions about how effective the program was in preparing them to teach in rural locations. This article discusses the quantitative data and participant comments on issues not adequately covered by STREP and how the program might be improved.