Choosing to teach in rural and remote schools: The zone of free movement


The difficulty of staffing rural and remote schools has become a global phenomenon. Educational agencies in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have addressed this issue by developing and implementing creative recruitment models. While many studies have documented reasons why teachers decide to work in rural and remote schools very little has been written about how the relationship between teacher personal demographics and why teachers move to rural regions and the intrinsic factors leading to their decision. One hundred and ninety-one secondary teachers from 27 rural and remote schools in the State of New South Wales, Australia, participated in this survey study. The findings reveal a number of factors making possible their attraction to rural and remote communities not only by the opportunity to secure a permanent position, but also because of the attraction of a rural ambiance, a stronger sense of collegiality and gaining experience/exposure in rural education. Constraints factors in teaching in a rural or remote school included a number of logistics and instructional reasons. In addition, the study found that respondents were more likely to move to rural and remote schools because they (a) grew up in a rural area with family connections in rural areas, (b) were female with family connections in rural areas, and (c) were in the 18-30 year age range and wanted to have rural teaching experience. The study theorises that the choice to work in a rural and remote school is influenced by a set of interacting possibilities and constraints creating a zone of decision-making free movement. Implications for teachers’ recruitment and retention are discussed.


survey study, teaching, teachers, employment, rural and remote placements, New South Wales, Australia

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