Connecting rural, regional and remote teachers to high quality professional learning

Quick guide for teachers and leaders

Highly skilled teachers are critical to raising the achievement of learners in rural, regional and remote settings

Nearly a third of teachers work in rural, regional or remote settings, educating over a quarter of Australia’s students. Yet, according to a AITSL report (2018), only a quarter of these teachers described being able to access relevant or appropriate professional learning.

According to these teachers, a number of factors helped to support their learning:

  • Increased availability of formal options including structured, face to face, and online choices
  • Readily available informal learning opportunities including networks and on site activities
  • Supportive leaders who encourage teachers in their professional development.

For school leaders

Ideas to help connect your teachers to effective professional learning


  • Identify common goals with other educational settings in your area and share knowledge and resources to support their achievement.
  • Establish inclusive collaborative spaces within your education setting or network where all staff feel welcome and valued. These could be in person or virtual environments.
  • Consider recording and sharing professional learning sessions with staff from your setting or other settings in your network.
  • Involve teachers in ‘cluster moderation’ opportunities where teachers can meet with a network of settings online or face to face, to help make consistent and comparable judgements about student learning.
  • Access certified Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers (HALTs) in your region for mentoring opportunities.

Share resources

  • Organise input from or access to experts for your network.
  • Rotate hosting of network meetings which may be occurring amongst your settings in your local area.
  • Consider sharing casual relief teacher contacts with other local settings to enable professional learning opportunities for staff.
  • Investigate jurisdiction-based initiatives or grants to support accessing professional learning opportunities for your setting or network.

Utilise on site opportunities

  • Consider the expertise of your staff to lead professional learning in an identified area of need.
  • Showcase effective strategies or approaches already adopted by staff within your setting or network.
  • Factor ‘observation of/reflection on practice’ or ‘professional growth’ time periods into timetables to enable professional development to take place.
  • Work with staff to review existing administrative requirements, including data collection, reporting obligations and meetings, to see where targeted and planned professional learning can take place.

For teachers

Quick and easy ideas to improve access to effective professional learning

  • Offer to lead professional learning in your area of expertise in your setting or network.
  • Actively engage in professional conversations with contacts in your setting or network, either face to face or online.
  • Consider filming your lessons and seeking feedback from teachers within your setting or network.
  • Consider asking other teachers in your school to observe your teaching and focus on specific Teacher Standards for feedback.

Considerations for overcoming common barriers

Common barriers to participation


Rural, regional, or remote teachers can find it difficult to access effective external professional learning due to:

  • Cost associated with casual relief teachers and incurred by setting for transport and accommodation
  • Distance participants must travel to participate
  • Lack of access to casual relief teachers, preventing coverage of classes
  • Lack of access to adequate and consistent Information and Communication Technology systems
  • Lack of understanding around rural, regional or remote teaching contexts by external providers delivering professional learning online

Working toward a greater proportion of job-embedded professional learning will help remove some of the barriers rural, regional and remote teachers face.

The following questions may help:

  • What processes are currently in place for teachers in our school or setting to observe or mentor one another?
  • How can we create more opportunities for effective teachers to mentor and support their colleagues?
  • Which settings with similar goals, approaches or concerns could we collaborate with in our network?
  • How can we help teachers understand what high quality professional learning is in their unique contexts? A deeper understanding of this definition could lead to a reduced reliance on face-to-face external professional learning.
  • How is professional learning currently organised and timetabled at my setting?

Plan to move forward

There is a wide range of professional learning that a teacher can undertake. Take a look at these effective forms of professional learning, to consider how you might be able to involve CRTs in opportunities happening in your setting:

  • Observation of practice and feedback
  • Coaching/Mentoring
  • Professional reading
  • Professional learning communities
  • Inquiry/Action research
  • Collaboration based on learner work samples
  • Ongoing active learning and reflection opportunities
  • Online forums