Disappearing Rural Schools: Are We Losing a Fertile Breeding Ground for Educational Leaders?


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Disappearing Rural Schools: Are We Losing a Fertile Breeding Ground for Educational Leaders?

  1. 1. Disappearing Rural Schools: Are We Losing a Fertile Breeding Ground for Educational Leaders? Vince O’Brien EDU8719 Contemporary Issues Conference
  2. 2. Disappearing Rural SchoolsThis presentation willexplore the following issues: Changing Declining Rural schools Australian number of are special economy rural schools Challenges Educational Preparing for related to leadership in Leadership rural schools rural schools roles The way forward
  3. 3. My Storyo Three years as a classroom teacher in rural schools.o Four years as a Teaching Principal in two one- teacher schools, both now closed.o Nine years as a Teaching Principal in a two teacher school.o Eight years as a classroom teacher in an urban school with an enrolment of over 1000 children.o Three years as a Behaviour Support Teacher in both small and large schools.
  4. 4. The Changing Australian EconomyNo longer riding on the sheep’s back (Gordon, 2003).Australia is becoming a knowledge-based economy (Australian Government, 2011).Moving away from agriculture being the driving force of the Australian economy.Question concerning the viability of some rural communities (Jones, 2009).
  5. 5. DecliningNumber of Total Number ofRural Schools Australian Schools 2008 Enrolment less than 100 Enrolment more than 100 1814 20% 80% 7330 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009)
  6. 6. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011)
  7. 7. Queensland rural57 less schools available for inexperienced future leaders. Queensland. Department of Education and Training (2011a)
  8. 8. Rural Schools are Special The decline of church goers means that schools are more of the focal point of many rural communities (Wright, 2007). Rural schools can give people a feeling of identity and attachment (Harmon & Schafft, 2009). Rural schools offer facilities for community meetings, celebrations and sporting events. Teachers have little choice but to be adaptable and flexible due to isolation and distances (Halsy, 2011).
  9. 9. Challenges Related to Rural Schools Recruiting and maintaining staff (Miller, Graham & Paterson, 2006). Unwilling or unprepared teachers being thrust into leadership roles (Graham, Miller & Paterson, 2009). The effects of personality clashes between staff or with community members can be magnified (Farmer, 2009).
  10. 10. Educational Leadership in Rural Schools Seven Principles of Sustainable Leadership and how they can be implemented in a small rural school.1-4 Hargreaves and Fink (2003)
  11. 11. Educational Leadership in Rural Schools Seven Principles of Sustainable Leadership and how they can be implemented in a small rural school. 5-7 Hargreaves and Fink (2003)
  12. 12. Preparing for Leadership Roles Queensland’s Approach Workforce Capability and Performance Unit Principal Connect Advisory Service Mentors for first time Principals Principal Induction and Resources website Take The Lead project Queensland. Department of Education and Training (2011b)
  13. 13. The Way Forward Consider the effect on a rural community when its school closes. Make professional development mandatory for aspiring Principals. Consider the lost opportunities for leaders to gain experience in a unique environment
  14. 14. ReferencesAustralian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). Schools by size of student enrolments (FTE)-and school affiliation. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage?4221.02008?OpenDocumentAustralian Bureau of Statistics. (2011). 4221.0 - Schools, Australia: NSSC Table 30a: Non-special schools 1996-2010. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4221.02010?OpenDocumentAustralian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (2011). Australia in brief: A stable and competitive economy. Retrieved November 22, 2011, from http://www.dfat.gov.au/aib/competitive_economy.htmlFarmer, T. (2009). Unique Rural District Politics. Rural Educator, 30(2), 29-33. Retrieved from http://www.ruraleducator.net/archive/30-2/Farmer.pdfGordon J. (2003, July 16). We slid off the sheeps back, now sliding off the land, too. The Age. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/15/1058035006992.htmlGraham, L., Miller, J., & Paterson, D. (2009). Early career leadership opportunities in Australian rural schools. Education In Rural Australia, 19(3), 25-34. Retrieved from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Early+career+leadership+opportunities+in+Australian+rural+schools.- a0219589163Harmon, H. L., & Schafft, K. (2009). Rural School Leadership for Collaborative Community Development. Rural Educator, 30(3), 4-9.Halsey, R John. (2011). Small schools, big future. Australian Journal Of Education, 55(1), 5-13. Retrieved from http://research.acer.edu.au/aje/vol55/iss1/2Hargreaves, A. & Fink, D. (2004). The seven principles of sustainable leadership. Educational Leadership, 61(7), 8-13. Retrieved from http://www.msde.maryland.gov/NR/rdonlyres/F7D49A8D-E9D0-4C49-9DE6- 3A878BC9F1F4/18748/seven_principles.pdfJones, J. (2009). The development of leadership capacity through collaboration in small schools. School Leadership & Management, 29(2), 129-156. doi:10.1080/13632430902775509Miller, J., Graham, L., & Paterson, D. (2006). Bush tracks: viewing teachers experiences of leadership in rural schools through a contextual lens. Education In Rural Australia, 16(2), 31-45. Retrieved from http:/​/​search.informit.com.au/​browseJournalTitle;res=​IELHSS;issn=​1036-0026Queensland. Department of Education and Training. (2011a). Register of recent school openings, closures and name changes. Retrieved December 17, 2011, from http://education.qld.gov.au/directory/schools/index.htmlQueensland. Department of Education and Training. (2011b). School leaders. Retrieved December 26, 2011, from http://education.qld.gov.au/staff/development/employee/school_leaders/index.htmlWright, K. (2007). Reenergizing small communities: a vital role for rural schools. The Educational Forum, 71(4), 345-360. doi:10.1080/00131720709335024