Of the 9,620 schools across Australia, more than one-fifth are in outer regional, remote, or very remote locations and nearly a third of Australia’s teachers reside in these locations.

Ensuring that all 4 million Australian school students experience quality teaching in every classroom, every day, no matter where they are located is critical to Australia’s success. This starts with the beginning of the teaching journey, and an important part of that is quality placement experiences for pre-service teachers whether in metro, regional, or remote.

Successful regional and remote placements are particularly important when you consider the teacher shortages being reported in the media, and shortages in regional and remote areas seem most pronounced across more disciplines. As I said in my blog last month, there is no quick fix to this issue - which is why it’s incredibly important that we continue to set pre-service teachers up for success.

Over the last fifteen years, initial teacher education completion rates for pre-service teachers from regional and remote areas have been up to eight percentage points lower than their metropolitan counterparts. Why this is the case merits investigation: what role does the initial teacher education program itself play in these differences?

When it comes to placing our pre-service teachers in regional and remote settings, it’s important that the school, local community, and the initial teacher education provider have a strong relationship – we want them to feel supported and know they are supported.

Our latest Spotlight report Pre-service teacher placements beyond urban settings examines the importance of building a pre-service teacher’s knowledge, expertise, and cultural awareness, which can assist them when placed in school settings that are outside our city limits.

Doing placements in outer urban areas isn’t easy. There are logistical barriers, like arranging accommodation and travel. Expenses can be a factor, even with an allowance, and there are personal challenges like being away from family and friends for some time.

But what we find is that the pre-service teachers who immerse themselves in the school and local community, who learn about the culture and foster strong working relationships, enjoy a much more positive placement experience. And the students they teach benefit from this too.

Working beyond urban areas provides great opportunities to develop as a teacher and to explore different roles while feeling supported and encouraged.

I encourage you to read this Spotlight and learn more about the programs and partnerships featured. They demonstrate the benefits of preparing, supporting, and facilitating pre-service teacher placements in our outer regional and remote Australian schools.

We also have many free tools and resources to assist initial teacher education providers, their students, and schools with their education journey.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Northern Territory Department of Education for their collaboration on this Spotlight and acknowledge the valuable contribution from academics and initial teacher education professionals across Australia.

You can read the June Spotlight here.

Mark Grant, AITSL CEO