Rural Experience Program Guidelines
1. Program outline
The Rural Experience Program (the program) is an initiative of the department's NSW Teacher Supply Strategy.
The program provides an opportunity for teachers to experience teaching and living in a local rural setting.
Principals at the rural experience schools have the opportunity to identify full-time temporary placement opportunities (fully or co-funded by the initiative) for a minimum of one to a maximum of four terms in a school year. Permanent teachers have the opportunity to apply for these initiative-funded rural experience placements at their current substantive level. Temporary and casual teachers can apply at teacher level.
Rural experience placements are aimed at providing a unique opportunity for teachers to experience working in a rural setting, thereby allowing their consideration of rural teaching as a longer-term option. The placements provide a quality professional development experience for preschool, primary and secondary school teachers. It is the intention of the program that the Rural experience school benefits from the differing skills the Rural experience placement teacher offers.
School Workforce directorate manages the administration of the program and supports principals and teachers with the program's implementation.
2. Initiative-funded placements
2.1 Principals at the rural experience schools have the opportunity to identify temporary full-time placements for a minimum of one to a maximum of four terms within a school year. Placements can be at teacher, head teacher, assistant principal or deputy principal level. These are initiative funded placements. The Rural Experience Program, through the NSW Teacher Supply Strategy, will fully fund placements for the length of the experience, with schools co-funding as required.
2.2 In addition to their substantive salary, teachers participating in the Rural Experience Program will receive a program allowance consisting of $500 at placement commencement and $500 per week during their placement period. The allowance is subject to tax.
2.3 When identifying rural experience placement opportunities, rural experience principals need to take into account:
2.3.1 accommodation options available to the incoming teacher (no placement will be possible without the principal identifying potential accommodation options for the incoming teacher).
2.3.2 the ideal duration of the placement (minimum of one term and maximum of four terms in a school year).
2.3.3 whether the placement teacher will have a classroom teaching load or will a new opportunity be created which could temporarily support and extend curriculum, student welfare programs or teacher professional learning.
2.3.4 whether the placement teacher needs specific expertise to support and/or extend current school programs e.g. a teacher experienced in establishing sports programs.
2.3.5 the possibility of a placement being shared between local schools e.g. a teacher mentor to support beginning teachers across two schools in close proximity.
2.4 This program provides for temporary placements. It does not refer to a temporary position as described in the Teaching Service Act 1980. Placements fully or co-funded by this initiative are not intended to replace existing temporary or permanent positions in the school.
3.1 Rural Experience schools: The 155 rural experience schools - or other identified rural experience schools as approved - are the only schools eligible to request initiative funded placements.
3.2 Teachers: To be eligible for a rural experience placement, teachers must have:
3.2.1 a current full approval to teach with the department, with a permanent substantive position (or temporary or frequent casual role) in a non-rural experience school, with both school and residence located more than 150 kilometres from the rural experience placement school to which they apply.
3.2.2 two years of cumulative teaching experience with the department.
3.2.3 the endorsement and support of their substantive principal (or current / supporting principal for temporary and casual teachers).
3.2.4 satisfactorily met performance and conduct probity requirements.
3.2.5 Proficient Teacher accreditation (minimum), with priority given to those with Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher accreditation.
3.2.6 no open workers compensation claims/cases that affects the applicant's ability to undertake the placement in the present context of the placement school.
3.2.7 not previously undertaken a rural experience program placement.
4. Duration of Rural Experience placements
4.1 The rural experience placement needs to be within a school year and can be for a minimum of one term and a maximum of four terms.
4.2 Placements are available to commence from Term One of the advertised school year.
5. Application Process
The application process will be managed by the School Workforce directorate in collaboration with rural experience school principals, as follows:
5.1 Principals of rural experience schools submit placement opportunities. Note: principals will be required to assist with identifying accommodation options when submitting placement opportunities.
5.2 School Workforce review placement opportunity submissions.
5.3 Applications open for teachers to apply. Permanent teachers can apply for up to five placements at their substantive level. Temporary and casual teachers can apply for up to five placements at teacher level.
5.4 School Workforce collate applications and forward those meeting eligibility within the intent of the program to the principals of the applicable rural experience schools.
5.5 Rural experience principals review applications and liaise with the applicant's current and / or substantive principal to discuss relevant details and negotiate any variations that may be required (for example, a four term placement may have been advertised but a three term may be more beneficial for the particular experience).
5.6 Rural experience principals:
- confirm applications in priority order and decline unsuitable applications.
- confirm accommodation options.
- forward recommendations to School Workforce.
5.7 School Workforce prioritise the principal's recommendations based on:
- educational priority as advised by Executive Directors, School Performance
- 8, 6, 4 transfer point schools
- teacher preferences
- available budget
5.8 School Workforce will:
- make the verbal offer of placement to the teachers.
- email the formal offer to the teacher and confirmation of the placement to the rural experience principal and the teachers substantive principal.
- create the temporary placement in the personnel system.
- manage the payment of allowances.
6.1 Permanent teachers can only take up a placement opportunity at their substantive level e.g. Head Teacher can only take up a placement at Head Teacher level. Temporary and casual teachers can only take up a placement opportunity at teacher level.
6.2 Permanent teachers retain the right of return to their substantive position following the completion of the placement period. Temporary and casual teachers do not have right of return to their previous temporary and casual positions.
6.3 Teachers on placements will be eligible for a program allowance consisting of $500 at placement commencement and $500 per week during their placement period. The allowance is subject to tax. This is paid as part of the teacher's salary as an allowance.
6.4 Allowance of $500 per week is only payable during teaching weeks and excludes school holidays unless the placement is for two or more consecutive terms within a school year and will cover the school holiday period within the placement period.
6.5 Teachers will not be eligible for any further incentives or benefits (eg, rental subsidy, locality allowance, transfer points etc) attached to the school during the duration of the placement.
6.6 Placements do not interrupt service for the purpose of salary increments or other service based recognition.
6.7 Allowances that do not constitute an inherent part of salary are not paid during the placement period.
6.8 Teachers are to ensure that no planned leave occurs during school terms falling within the rural placement period, and must understand that requests for unforeseen leave during the placement will be considered only in exceptional circumstances and may lead to early placement cessation.
6.8.1 Requests for unforeseen leave of up to 15 days per year during the placement will be considered by the placement school principal, with any resulting relief teacher costs borne by the placement school.
6.8.2 Unforeseen leave of more than 15 days per year during the placement will impinge on the ability of the teacher to fulfil the placement role, and therefore require an early cessation of the placement (including related program salary and allowance). The official cessation date will be day 16 of leave, or an alternative date as advised by School Workforce. From that date, permanent teachers will be returned to their substantive school, noting that the school may assign the teacher different duties than usual, or consider additional leave as appropriate. Temporary and casual teachers will be responsible for securing their own employment.
6.8.3 School Workforce may at its discretion consider alternative cessation arrangements or a short-term suspension of program participation (including related program salary and allowance).
6.8.4 Where leave will impact the beginning or end of a placement, the placement commencement or conclusion dates may be altered (with related program salary and allowance adjusted accordingly).
6.9 Teachers should discuss any job applications, outside the rural experience placement, with the rural experience principal. If successful, a start date should be negotiated so that the rural experience placement can be completed. If a successful job application requires a start date that falls within the rural experience placement period, then the rural experience placement (including related program salary and allowance) will be ceased accordingly and the teacher will be returned to their substantive school position or into their new job position as appropriate.
6.10 Where the teacher withdraws from the program prior to placement commencement, the teacher must discuss with their rural school principal, and provide advice to the program. For permanent teachers, discussions must include their substantive principal as the teacher's substantive role will remain at their substantive school. Temporary and casual teachers will be responsible for securing their own employment.
6.11 After the placement commences, early cessation of the program (including related program salary and allowance) may occur for a number of reasons, including but not limited to; misconduct; performance concerns; placement no longer required by the school; or personal circumstances of the teacher. If the program is ceased prematurely, this may be sought with four weeks' notice (or other mutually agreed timeframe) by the teacher, by the rural experience school principal, or by the substantive school principal. Negotiation must occur between these parties, with the rural experience principal informing School Workforce of any changes to the placement. Permanent teachers will be returned to their substantive school, noting that the school may assign the teacher different duties than usual, or may consider leave as appropriate. Temporary and casual teachers will be responsible for securing their own employment. School Workforce may also facilitate early cessation where it determines that successful participation in the program is compromised.
6.12 A post evaluation is to be completed by the participating placement teachers.
7. Roles and responsibilities
7.1 Executive Directors, School Performance and Connected Communities - with responsibility for Rural Experience schools
7.1.1 Provide School Workforce with advice regarding the educational priority order of placement schools as required.
7.1.2 Support Directors, Educational Leadership in program participation
7.2 Directors, Educational Leadership
7.2.1 Promote the rural experience program to raise awareness and to maximise engagement of rural experience schools, non-rural teacher applicants and support from their substantive school.
7.2.2 Support Principals of rural experience schools as they participate in the program in communicating the purpose and benefits of the program.
7.3 Rural Experience Principals
7.3.1 Submit rural experience placement opportunities which will support student learning and outcomes. Any placement opportunity must identify possible accommodation options available to the teacher for the duration of the placement.
7.3.2 Assess the suitability of any teacher applicants and discuss as appropriate with their substantive and/or current principal.
7.3.3 Negotiate attendance with the successful teacher and their substantive and/or current principal prior to placement.
7.3.4 Inform rural experience school staff of induction processes prior to the teacher's arrival.
7.3.5 Provide a welcome and orientation for the teacher.
7.3.6 Provide initial payment to teacher of salary and Rural Experience allowance, on the understanding that reimbursement to the school will occur from School Workforce (Rural Experience Program) funds. Principals will be notified of reimbursement amounts for fully or co-funded placements.
7.3.7 Discuss school plan, policies and procedures with the teacher.
7.3.8 Discuss local information and cultural issues related to working in a rural community.
7.3.9 Ensure teacher is treated as part of the teaching staff community.
7.3.10 Make opportunities available for the teacher to undertake professional learning connected to the teaching role and the school community.
7.3.11 Review the teachers Performance and Development Plan (PDP) to make it relevant for the duration of the rural experience period.
7.3.12 Allocate a supervisor and provide an overview of class allocation.
7.3.13 Allocate a mentor and initial allocation for support.
7.3.14 Contact School Workforce to discuss early cessation of the program.
7.3.15 Maintain contact with the teacher and their substantive principal as required.
7.3.16 Liaise with School Workforce as required.
7.3.17 Complete a post evaluation.
7.4 Non Rural Experience Principals
7.4.1 Encourage and support eligible teachers to apply for the rural experience program.
7.4.2 Discuss suitability for specific rural experience placements with the rural experience host principal.
7.4.3 Be willing to release teacher during the rural experience placement, and in the case of permanent teacher participants, to facilitate their return during (if early cessation occurs) or after the placement.
7.4.4 Arrange for appropriate backfilling of the temporary vacancy position to ensure continuity of school learning processes.
7.4.5 Maintain contact with rural experience teacher and school principal as required.
7.5.1 Review rural experience placement opportunities and research rural experience locations prior to applying for a placement to make an informed decision.
7.5.2 Liaise with substantive or supporting school principal to discuss and seek support for application for the Rural Experience Program.
7.5.3 Discuss application and suitability for a placement with the rural experience principal as required as they assess available candidates for the rural experience opportunity.
7.5.4 Consider acceptance of any offered rural experience placement within the context of the terms and conditions of the program.
7.5.5 If offered a placement opportunity, make initial contact with the rural experience school principal. During the initial conversation ask any questions about the school and confirm the starting date.
7.5.6 Comply with the Department of Education's Code of Conduct.
7.5.7 Ensure that no planned leave occurs during school terms falling within the rural placement period.
7.5.8 Discuss any job applications, outside the rural experience placement, with the rural experience principal. If successful, a start date should be negotiated so that the rural experience placement can be completed.
7.5.9 Recognise that when teaching in a rural location, you are also living in the community so your professional obligations may extend beyond the school. The types of cultural issues in the community may be complex. Not understanding a community's cultural norms could result in unintended breaches of community protocols which could cause offence. Talk with colleagues and Principal at school about the local community expectations. Seek support for personal/professional issues.
7.5. 10 Complete a post evaluation.
7.6 School Workforce
7.6.1 Coordinate the Rural Experience Program.
7.6.2 Manage the application process.
7.6.3 Manage the payment of allowances and initiative funded placements.
7.6.4 Make the final placement decisions and offers.
7.6.5 Provide a school support package and a teacher support package.
7.6.6 Initiate a Rural Experience Program network for the professional and social dialogue of all teachers on a rural experience.
8. Support Packages
8.1 Teacher Package - School Workforce will make a teacher package available to support teachers to achieve a successful placement. Rural Experience School Principals will make school specific information available to support rural experience teachers who achieve a successful placement.
8.2 Rural Experience Schools Package: School Workforce will make a school package available to support schools to achieve a successful placement.
9.1 Teachers participating in the program will be provided with possible accommodation options by the rural experience principal. However a teacher is ultimately responsible for the accommodation they agree to occupy.
9.2 Teachers participating in the program may rent a property at market value through the Teacher Housing Authority (if available) or other avenues as desired.
9.3 Teachers participating in the program are not eligible for rental subsidies which might otherwise apply in rural locations.
10.1 Teachers participating in the program are required to make their own travel arrangements and are responsible for fares and expenses associated with travel and temporary relocation.
10.2 The rural experience teacher's package includes suggestions and support for ensuring safe travel to the placement school.