Specifically, it has enabled a number of initiatives at local and state levels, including:
- The support of local, rural communities to develop collaborative partnerships between education settings; and between education settings and the broader community, in the development and provision of learning from 0-18+ years;
- The development of resources and materials to support rural learning communities who would like to develop collaborative approaches to learning. These resources include support materials, research papers, and best practice examples;
- Documenting examples of rural communities who work within a collaborative arrangement, highlighting the key elements that support their effective partnerships, and sharing these approaches with other rural communities;
- Providing professional and leadership development for rural learning communities who seek to develop a collaborative approach to the provision of learning within their community.
“Clustering” has been a key element of rural education in Victoria for many years. In that time, CEP has consistently advocated the use of clustering as a way to provide quality learning opportunities and outcomes for rural communities.
Some examples of clustering include:
- The use of shared specialists;
- The shared delivery of VCE subjects across partner schools;
- The provision of cluster professional development;
- And the exploration of shared governance between partner schools.
In recent discussions with rural Victorian communities, the concept of clustering (or Collaborative Autonomy, or Alliances, as refereed to in other education jurisdictions) has been acknowledged as a viable method to enhance and improve learning opportunities and outcomes in country schools, particularly in light of plateauing school performance and a growing interest in ‘local autonomy’.
As one Assistant Principal has reflected:
“We have been able to improve our school performance across a number of indicators by utilising the skills and knowledge of our workforce where they ‘best fit’.
“The challenge for us, in moving from a ‘good performing’ school to an ‘exceptional performing’ one, is in our need to build relationships with people and organisations outside our school through alliances…”
The Country Education Partnership (CEP) is in the process of developing a range of resources and case studies focused on the development and implementation of effective collaborative approaches to enhance learning outcomes in rural schools.
Additionally, CEP is working with numerous rural and remote education communities to further develop their clustering approaches, with a focus on sharing resources, collaborative education programs, partnerships, education leadership approaches and governance arrangements.
Please click on the following links for information on:
Rural learning communities interested in accessing cluster support are encouraged to contact CEP (see our Contact Page).