Wayne Poole, Rural Access Gap Program Director:
It's about the uplift of the technology in the schools, but it's a lot more than that. It's about providing equal opportunity to rural and remote students. It's about putting them on the same digital footpath as the other students and giving them the same opportunity, so I'm really passionate about that side of the work.
Kerry Halley, Principal, Wattle Flat Public School:
We're at Wattle Flat Public School. We have currently 24 students and it's just an amazing place to be. I always said I would never retire until the internet was great at Wattle Flat, and now it's great at Wattle Flat and I'm not retiring!
Janell Cole, School Administration Manager, Wattle Flat Public School:
It's made a huge difference to my days and getting work done is just flying through the work. It's just absolutely amazing. I am so grateful.
Tyla Jenkins, IT Stem Coordinator, Dubbo South Public School:
It's been amazing being part of the whole process from getting the devices to setting them up to even seeing how the kids interact with them for the first time and how excited they are of walking in and seeing a whole new trolley of laptops and just saying 'do we get to use those? ‘Is that something that we get to see in our classrooms?’, and they're just so excited.
Lincoln McBroom, Digital Classroom Officer, Wongarbon Public School:
It's totally changed how we work. It has improved our efficiency (and) things seamlessly integrate.
I'm observing as well as my own practice. I'm observing within my colleagues increased collegiality and collaboration within our documents, and planning along with our integrating the devices into classroom lessons.
Jenny Lamborn, Principal, Wallerawang Public School:
We completed the Digital Maturity Planner, and we were able to actually identify our areas of strength in terms of the school planning process and look at what we needed to do in terms of working towards those excelling statements.
Tim Cassell, Assistant Principal, Dubbo South Public School:
Moving our teams through the cloud migration process and starting to use a cloud-based software for our programming has been a game changer, not only before lockdown, but then through lockdown. So the ability just to share documents with students and families has been great, but also to share it with staff.
Amanda Hupp, School Administration Manager, Dubbo West Public School:
Quick Reference Guides have been amazing. They have helped us to cover so many areas within the school system and they're a wealth of knowledge for our admin staff, for our teaching staff, and our non-teaching staff.
Beverley Nancarrow, Digital Classroom Officer, Wallerawang Public School:
We are super excited to just increase the number of devices that we have, to just expand that in greater ways and improve the students' learning.
Rural Access Gap Program – Today’s students for tomorrow’s world.
Brought to you in partnership with the NSW Department of Education and the Digital Restart Fund.
[End of transcript]
Creating a level playing field
The Rural Access Gap program was the first stage of the Schools Digital Strategy that ensured these schools were digitally transformed to match their metropolitan counterparts.
Program Director Wayne Poole said it was more than just a technology uplift for students and teachers.
"It's about providing equal opportunity to rural and remote students," he said. "It's about putting them on the same digital footpath as the other students and giving them the same opportunity. I'm really passionate about that side of the work."
Key outcomes for rural schools
The program covered 200,000-plus students across more than 1,000 rural, remote and regional schools delivering on four key areas:
- Leading digital improvements by giving leaders the tools to better understand their school’s digital maturity and invest in skills development.
- Enabling digital classrooms through upgrades to connectivity and learning spaces, and leveraging cloud technology.
- Accessing digital tools to support teachers and students for a more customised education experience.
- Making daily tasks easier by automating school management systems, and streamlining communication to parents and carers.
School outcomes and impact
Rural and remote schools have already benefitted from stronger, more responsive and reliable distance education platforms, quality and accessible teaching resources, expert digital support and training, and a reduction in administrative burden.
Fast, secure connectivity
Fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity was delivered as part of a multi-million dollar infrastructure upgrade of rural and remote schools.
More devices for teachers
More than 18,000 teachers across more than 1,000 schools now have access to a portable device to help them build digital skills and streamline lesson planning.
Digital Maturity Planner
The planner helped schools understand their current level of digital maturity, identify gaps, and help build and manage a plan that lifts their digital capabilities.
NSW Education Parent App
The NSW Education Parent App streamlined communication with features such as push notifications to your phone so you never miss any important news or events.
Digital Classroom Officer
The Digital Classroom Officer (DCO) program created more than 1,000 DCO roles improving teacher confidence in using digital tools and delivering better student outcomes.
Universal Resources Hub
The Universal Resources Hub provided a central place for teaching and school-based staff to access and share quality-assured resources.