Rural Cluster Initiative Begins with Workshops facilitated by Maggie Farrar

Over the past couple of weeks, a number of rural and remote clusters from across rural Victoria have been working with Maggie Farrar in workshops as part of an initiative developed by the Country Education Partnership to explore creative approaches:

“To build the capacity of rural and remote education communities in establishing locally determined clusters and partnerships as a key strategy in enhancing learning opportunities for their communities, therefore catering for the needs and desires of every rural children and young person.”

This Rural Cluster initiative is one developed by the Country Education Partnership and is supported through the Service Agreements that they have with both the Department of Education and Training and the three country Catholic Education Offices to consider a number of areas for focus in providing a comprehensive learning experience for rural and remote communities including:

  • development of a comprehensive and response curriculum;
  • building capacity of education leaders;
  • recruiting, retaining and utilising high quality educators;
  • enhancing student aspirations.

An outline of the program can be gained by clicking on:  Rural and Remote Cluster Initiative Overview 2017

and the flier for the initial Maggie Farrar workshops: Maggie Farrar 2017 Program Flier.pub

This Cluster initiative also enhances and facilitates the aims outlined within the current State Governments “Education State Framework”.

These initial workshops involved 13 rural clusters from both the government and catholic education sectors and provided a real opportunity for them to consider how they could provide quality education for their children and young people in to the future – especially with a number of these communities experiencing decreasing youth populations, difficulty of recruiting staff, and the like.

For a  copy of Maggies powerpoint, click on the following:  Rural Cluster Project 2017 Maggies slides May 2017

Some of these rural and remote clusters have only just begun their journey in relation to developing a partnership approach to education provision within their communities, while others have been on the partnership journey for some time. This provides a rich environment whereby these clusters can share their experiences with one another, and to learn from each others journey to provide quality education for the children and young people into the future.

The workshops recently held were the first activity of a program that will operate over the next twelve months which will include:

  • support to each of the rural clusters by Country Education Partnership providing a critical friend in the ongoing development of each cluster and its activities;
  • access to webinars and resource programs and materials available through similar work in other education jurisdictions;
  • a second workshop with Maggie Farrar in August which will see all the cluster gather together to share their learnings, journeys and future aspirations.

In addition, the Rural Cluster Initiative will develop strong links with initiatives already occurring within the education sectors and will involve School Education Improvement Leaders within the Department of Education and Training as well as Education Consultants within the Catholic Education sector.

As one education leaders reflected at the conclusion of a workshop session:

“this is THE WORK we all need to be in – impacting on what really happens in our schools and rural communities. Building the collaborative expertise and skills at a local level is key to the future of rural education.”

The Country Education Partnership will ensure that the developments of these rural and remote clusters will be shared with other rural and remote education communities, and ensure that the experiences gained are shared with education sectors and policy makers to ensure sustainability of education provision within all of our rural and remote communities.

More information on this initiative can be gained by contacting CEP at:  admin@cep.org.au