Collaborative Autonomy within a Rural Community.

Living in a rural community of less than 2,000 people brings with it a range of challenges in providing a quality learning program that is reflective of the needs and aspirations of all young people that live within it.

The Nathalia community is one such community. Situated within the northern part of the state in the middle of a strong farming community, early years services, the two government schools and two catholic schools have been working together over the past two years to further develop the links that have existed for many years in the community to enhance and improve learning for their young people.

Focusing on lifting the aspirations of their young people, these four schools have developed a strong “collaborative autonomy” approach to the provision of learning within their community. Under a common view:

“working together with common aims around Teaching & Learning whilst retaining a sense of autonomy and uniqueness, providing quality education for all”

this learning community has begun to develop a range of initiatives to support the children and young people within their community with great outcomes.

The cluster has already developed a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing learning provision within the community. Specifically, it has introduced:

  • a strong partnership between early years services kindergartens and schools in supporting the provision of learning across the early years for children with positive outcomes already being noticed in the areas of transitions, literacy skills and readiness for school.
  • the two secondary schools development of a joint VCE program which sees students learning across both education settings, and being able to develop a learning program that caters for their needs and interests – the large majority of students being able to study the program they want.  This collaborative approach has resulted in young people within this small rural community to have access to learning programs equivalent to larger regional and metropolitan locations.

Recently, the cluster had the privilege of bringing all their staff together through a combined student free day to spend a day with Sir John Jones and Rachel Glazebrook to consider how they can, by working collaboratively together, to engage their children and young people in high quality learning into the future. The staffs from all education organisations were involved in presentations by John and a range of discussions, which further explored the potential of the cluster building on what has already been achieved.

One of these exciting recent developments has seen the opening of the Trade Training Centre within Nathalia that has been a joint initiative to provide a broader range of vocational education programs for young people in this small rural community.

Another exciting development this learning community has established this year has been the formation of a partnership with Australian Catholic University, Ballarat, where the cluster will see both lecturers and final year pre service teachers involved in a range of research, learning programs and professional learning aimed to further enhance the opportunities for all young people across the cluster.