Creating a level playing field
The RAG is the first stage of the Schools Digital Strategy (SDS) that aims to ensure rural schools are digitally transformed to match their metropolitan counterparts.
Meet Director, School Agency and Digital Leadership, Dr Brad Russell who explains SDS's goal of achieving equity for every student, no matter what background or location.
"It's (about) giving the same access, same platform, same playing field for every student within our system," he said.
The case for change
Recent research, which was completed as part of the SDS, found the divide between city and country schools continues to widen.
Results, including PISA, NAPLAN, HSC and Closing the Gap 2020, across core learning areas continue to decline in rural and remote areas.
While issues around isolation and access to resources remain a root cause, these challenges are being compounded by:
The extended drought and the recent bushfire crisis.
Ageing distance education platforms.
Difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers.
Inconsistent levels of digital literacy.
Increasing economic hardship.
Delivering a better education
One of the core deliverables of the RAG Direct Intervention Package, which will target more than 1000 remote schools, is providing greater access to quality teaching.
The goal is to save time for teachers by streamlining processes, simplifying access to instructional resources, and professional support.
Together with enhanced connectivity delivered under the Connecting Country Schools program, these measures will help schools deliver rich and engaging educational experiences for all students.
By harnessing the best teaching capabilities across the system and bridging isolation using modern distance learning platforms, we can begin to close the gap.
The Rural Access Gap schools
The focus of the package is schools in rural, remote and regional areas of NSW. In total, it covers about 210,000 students in 1,002 schools comprising of:
763 primary schools
137 secondary schools
61 central/community schools
2 infants schools
25 Schools for Specific Purposes; and
14 Environmental Education Centres and other schools in distinct settings.
School outcomes and impact
Rural and remote schools will all benefit from stronger, more responsive and reliable distance education platforms, supporting high-performance web-conferencing and collaboration tools.
Students will have modern, connected and constructive learning spaces equipped to support engaged, personalised learning.
Teachers will have the development, support and resources they need to integrate digital tools within the learning environment.
Support staff will benefit from school management tools that minimise manual tasks and maximise time to focus on teaching and learning.
Access to digital tools
School communities will have access to digital tools and connectivity for effective communication and collaboration.
More quality teaching
All staff will be able to partner with our country schools to help close the gap in access to high-quality teaching.
All schools will be able to share teaching excellence with professional support in the classroom, the school and the region.