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.

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.

2019 Rural and Remote Education Conference - 'Innovate to Inspire'

Teaching - Learning - Wellbeing

The 2019 Rural and Remote Education Conference is a one day professional learning event that showcases innovative rural school projects, learning resources and pedagogy.

Held across three rural locations (Tamworth, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga), each conference is tailored to address the needs of schools in their communities. Teachers and school executive staff will be connected with colleagues in similar contexts and provided with project planning processes and strategies to implement change in their own school, maximising student outcomes.

Information related to each conference location is available on our website.

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Human Resources Strategy

Every student in every school in NSW – regardless of their postcode – deserves to have quality teachers, because we know from research that great teachers have the biggest impact on student learning.

The Rural and Remote Education Human Resources Strategy, announced on 30 November 2017, by the Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, is a $59.4 million investment over five years to address and improve teacher availability and experience in rural and remote NSW public schools.

Scholarships and incentives will be available for teacher education students to work in rural and remote schools, as well as recruitment and retention benefits and incentives for permanent and temporary teachers and school executives.

Staff in more than 150 rural and remote public schools will be eligible for the enhanced benefits and incentives.

See introducing the strategy for more information.

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':

  • student needs to be removed from local school environment
  • student needs learning support
  • 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.

Applications for the 2020 Rural and Remote Network Initiatives close Friday 22nd November at 5pm. Application details, including the Google Form link, can be found in the information handout.

Rural and Remote K-12 Careers Education Initiative

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

  • develop creative careers education programs to strengthen transitions between primary and secondary schools
  • raise student expectations and pathways into further study and/or training
  • connect teachers with professional learning involving careers education
  • strengthen links between school careers education initiatives and local community and industry stakeholders.

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

Application details for the 2020 Rural and Remote K-12 Careers Education Initiative can be found by accessing the information sheet. Applications close on Friday 27th September at 5pm.

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.

For more information and an application, visit Rural and Remote Marking Program.

Rural Experience Program

Rural Experience provides an opportunity for permanent teachers to take part in a short-term placement of 1 to 4 terms in a Rural and Remote school.

For more information and to apply, visit Rural Experience Program.

Further information

The Rural and Distance Education website curates and publishes news, curriculum resources and professional development content with a specific focus on rural schools and distance education. Archives of key resources developed by NSW teachers and Country Areas Program consultants can also be found as ZIP files on the site.

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

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