Rural and remote education

The Rural and Distance Education unit is based in the Bathurst State office and supports schools in rural and remote areas and those providing distance education.

Rural and Remote Education


Explore the new Rural and Remote Education Strategy (2021-2024).

The Rural and Remote Education: A blueprint for action (PDF 1520.28KB) is a detailed plan to improve student learning in rural and remote public schools across New South Wales.

The blueprint aims to:

  • improve early childhood education in rural and remote communities
  • provide incentives to attract and retain quality teachers and leaders to rural and remote schools
  • offer coordinated interagency health and wellbeing in rural and remote areas
  • expand curriculum opportunities for students in rural and remote areas through the establishment of a virtual selective high school, Aurora College.

Scholarships and allowances

A range of allowances and scholarships are available for students in rural and remote locations who live away from the family home to attend school.

Living away from home allowance

The Living Away from Home Allowance (LAFHA) provides assistance to eligible NSW families whose children must board away from home to access secondary education. Pre-conditions for eligibility relate to income and distance from the nearest public secondary school or school of preferred religion. Applicants must also meet a further criterion such as a medical condition or impassable roads. See LAFHA information for further details.

  • Check the closing date for the current year on the LAFHA application before completing.
  • Applications must be received before 30 June each year.
  • Applications received between 1 July and 30 September, if successful, will only be paid for half a year.
  • Applications received after 30 September cannot be approved for that year.

Boarding scholarships for isolated students

Boarding Scholarships for Isolated Students (BSIS) assist eligible students from rural areas who are required to board to attend NSW public specialist high schools – including agricultural boarding schools – or those required to board at a school term hostel to access a NSW public secondary school. Scholarships are available for students in Years 7 to 12 who are disadvantaged by a low family income and geographical isolation. See BSIS information for further details.

  • Check the closing date for the current year on the BSIS application before completing.
  • Applicants must:
    • have been accepted either at a NSW public specialist school or agricultural boarding school
    • need to board at a school term hostel to access a NSW public secondary school.

Australian Government assistance

The Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme (AIC) is an Australian Government program that targets students who cannot attend a public school because the family home is geographically isolated or the students have a disability or special needs. It is managed by the Department of Human Services – see the AIC guidelines for further information.

Check eligibility and make a claim for payment through the Department of Human Services.

The NSW Department of Education is required, in specific cases, to support an AIC application. All requests for a statement of support are considered on a case-by-case basis. A statement may be provided if applying under '4.3 students with special needs':

  • 4.3.5.4 student needs to be removed from local school environment
  • 4.3.5.6 student needs learning support
  • 4.3.5.7 student would suffer serious educational disadvantage at local school.

To request a statement of support from the rural and distance education team:

Please note these applications do not meet WCAG 2.0 requirements. If you require an accessible format please contact the Rural and Distance Education team.

Distance and Rural Technologies Team

The Distance and rural technologies team (DART) assists students and schools with technologies to improve rural and distance education schooling.

DART also operates a satellite service for remote communities where traditional broadband is not an option. This allows isolated students to participate in distance education.

Virtual excursions

DART coordinates virtual excursions and educational experiences for schools through the Connections program. Videoconferences allow students to engage with experts across the globe. Excursions are designed to enrich and supplement the curriculum across all stages and key learning areas.

Visit DART Connections for further information about upcoming experiences and how to participate.

Rural and Remote Network Initiatives

The Rural and Remote Network Initiatives provide individual and communities of rural schools the opportunity to develop innovative curriculum programs for their students. Funding is allocated to schools on an annual basis through an Expression of Interest process. Applications are reviewed by a panel of rural education stakeholders to determine successful projects.

The Rural and Remote Network Initiatives are designed to assist schools:

  • develop authentic, innovative and engaging programs to improve the learning outcomes of all rural and remote students
  • develop school leadership capacity, collaborative practice and strong links between communities and schools
  • provide quality professional learning to rural teachers.

For more information on successful Rural and Remote Network Initiatives, NSW Department of Education employees can click here.

2021 Expressions of Interest

Schools were invited to submit an Expression of Interest for the 2021 Rural and Remote Network Initiatives program that closed on Friday 27 November 2020 (5pm).

Rural and Remote K-12 Career Education Initiative

The Rural and Remote K-12 Career Education Initiative is a joint program coordinated by Rural and Distance Education and Senior Pathways to assist schools embed career education into their curriculum. The program provides financial support and curriculum assistance to communities of schools to assist them to:

  • develop innovative and creative career education processes that will strengthen the smooth transition from primary to secondary school
  • raise student expectations and pathways into further study and/or training
  • provide teachers with appropriate professional learning
  • provide quality school leadership
  • establish strong relationships with community.

For more information on the Rural and Remote K-12 Career Education Initiative, NSW Department of Education employees can access teacher newsletters for the program.

Submissions for the 2021 Rural and Remote K-12 Career Education Initiative closed on Monday 26 October 2020.

Rural and Remote Marking Program

The Rural and Remote Marking Program (RRMP) provides rural HSC teachers with an opportunity to mark the HSC. Benefits of this professional learning opportunity include:

  • new knowledge and understanding of the marking process and HSC standards
  • seeing a full range of examination responses from the course candidature
  • a deeper knowledge of HSC questions; course outcomes and content detailed in the syllabus

Successful participants in the RRMP will:

  • participate in briefing and practice marking sessions with other teachers from across the state
  • work in small groups under a senior marker
  • complete onscreen marking – at home or a secure location.

HSC Simulated Marking Program

The HSC Simulated Marking Workshops provide professional learning to Stage 6 teachers on HSC marking procedures and processes. Using specialised materials and processes developed by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), the program seeks to connect rural teachers with an increased understanding of high expectations for student learning and external marking protocols.

The program responds to Goal 6 and Goal 10 of the NSW Department of Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022, assisting students to be prepared for higher education and post-school pathways.

During the course of the one day workshop, participants will:

  • be introduced to the expectations of HSC marking and protocols used by senior markers
  • gain expert advice from senior markers on how to use online software to mark the HSC
  • have an opportunity to practice marking using the online software using student responses from previous years
  • collaborate with markers and other teachers around HSC marking moderation processes.
Information on the 2021 HSC Simulated Marking can be found online.

Applications must be made using the Google Form and close on Monday 10 May 2021 (5pm).

Further information

Contact the Rural and Distance Education unit for further information on programs and scholarships for rural teachers and students.

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