From the Principal

The Regional Educational Disadvantage

In 2018 the federal government received a report on Regional, Rural and Remote Education.

At about 96 pages long, I doubt whether many parents in the regions it talks about have actually read it.

The report opened with this statement: “The key challenge for regional, rural and remote education is ensuring, regardless of location or circumstances, that every young person has access to high quality schooling and opportunities.”

Worryingly, the report acknowledged national statistics that showed there is a persistent relationship between where you live and your educational chance of educational success.

The results show that living and being educated outside metropolitan areas means students face significant disadvantage. That means that the 47% of Australian schools that are non-metropolitan face educational challenges that are not necessarily faced by those in metropolitan areas.

Finding: “Students from metropolitan schools achieved significantly higher scores than students from provincial or remote schools.”

That is the “bad news”.

The good news is that not all regional schools are willing to accept this disadvantage and through intelligent strategy, hard work and a refusal to accept second best they, in fact, are offering an education equal to the very best in the state.

An example of this is the fact that three schools on the Mid and North Coast, Emmanuel Anglican College, MacKillop Catholic College and St Columba Anglican School, were able to achieve 2021 HSC results that placed their students’ results in the top 100 in the state.

There is no doubt that regional, rural and remote schools have particular local, social and educational challenges to overcome, and the necessary changes and strategies from the various governments appear to be slow in coming.

The Halsey Report acknowledges that “Making major changes in education in Australia has historically been slow and typically highly contested.”  

So schools can either wait for our governments to act on this acknowledged disadvantage or they can take the reins and change the future.

Our advantage in the face of proven regional disadvantage is that:

  • As an independent school, St Columba does not have to wait to act. We are able to identify what our students need to make them competitive and gain access to further education without waiting for “head office” to make policies or decisions;
  • We are able to respond to local changes and challenges with agility and courage;
  • We are willing to do the research, learn from the best and take strategic steps that we believe will result in even better outcomes for our students;
  • As a school we have been able to attract and develop a cohort of exceptional educators and educational leaders, one of the significant hurdles identified for regional schools in the Report;
  • We offer a regional educational option to those families who would often need to consider boarding school as the only way to get their children a great education.

The Halsey Report acknowledges the existence of the old “truism”: “The country is a good place for a teacher/leader to start their career but not to devote their career to.”

Schools like ours do not accept this “fact” and will continue to offer our students a “world of opportunities” due to the professionalism and diligence of great teachers and educational leaders who love their students, respect their families’ aspirations for their children and refuse to offer a second best education.

So, there!

By the way, Welcome to the Year of the Tiger……

Terry Muldoon
Principal

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at principal@scas.nsw.edu.au

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