Teachers at schools in Katherine would not be eligible for the Federal Government's new offer of wiping uni debts to lure more teachers to "very remote" areas.
According to the ABS, Katherine is classified as "remote" as distinct from "very remote".
Schools within the region would fall within the government's target area.
Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a new plan to attract teachers to removing all or part of the uni debt for 3100 students to encourage more teachers to work and stay working in very remote areas
They would need to commit to stay for four years to qualify.
Education Minister Dan Tehan said the government wanted to support teachers who choose to make a long-term commitment to teaching in remote schools.
"The evidence says that improving the quality of teachers is one of the ways to make the biggest improvements in student outcomes."
The Prime Minister's package also includes:
- $200 million extra support to give more Indigenous students the support and mentoring they need through their secondary studies
- Working community by community and school by school to invest $5 million in remote and very remote areas for projects that support and promote school attendance
Education experts welcomed the announcement.
Associate Professor Philip Roberts is an expert in rural and remote education at the University of Canberra. He welcomed the announcement to wipe the HECS debt of new teachers who spend four years in very remote communities as a "positive first step in addressing the intergenerational disadvantage faced by remote communities."
"The attraction and retention of teachers in Rural Regional and Remote communities has been a problem since the advent of compulsory education," he said.
Dr Roberts cautions that "attention also needs to be given to the conditions teachers experience, as resourcing, access to professional development, quality housing, and limited support staff are amongst the most cited reasons teachers leave these settings".
Further, Dr Roberts highlighted the importance of attracting teachers into the profession from rural and remote areas. "All major studies show that teachers from rural regional and remote areas often return to, and remain, in these communities," he said.
"Perhaps more importantly, they also understand the students' backgrounds and can better connect their teaching to those students' needs and pre-existing understandings". This counters the sense of being "out of place" that many metropolitan raised teachers experience when moving to rural areas – something which they report makes them feel disconnected from communities and encourages them to leave.
Dr John Guenther of the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education agreed, while highlighting that the need for local instructors who understood local needs was "amplified" when it came to remote Indigenous education.
In this context, he said, "the importance of having Aboriginal staff, Aboriginal teacher assistants and Aboriginal teachers, particularly local ones, becomes really, really important for the outcomes of students."
Australia’s Closing the Gap targets will be redeveloped in partnership with Indigenous Australians for the first time with a direct focus on education as the key to unlocking the potential of this and future generations.
The Prime Minister said the 2019 Closing the Gap report highlighted successes across the country but that refreshed targets were an opportunity to work together to accelerate progress.
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