Rural and Remote Professional Learning Tour

| 21 Nov 2019

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Over recent months, we have expanded our delivery of professional learning and outreach workshops to teachers, school leaders, parents and students in rural, remote and regional communities across New South Wales. Our staff, together with UNSW School of Education academics and school leaders travelled to Dubbo, Walgett, Nyngan, Broken Hill, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond River and Griffith to share insights into their educational leadership experience and practice.  During the last 12 months 50% of our professional learning programs and forums have been delivered in rural, remote and regional venues.

On tour, we offered two specialist professional learning workshops, ‘Parent and Community Engagement for Learning’ and ‘Leading for Educational Change’.

Our first workshop ‘Parent and Community Engagement for Learning’ was intended for school leaders, teachers, parents and students, and was designed to facilitate increased parent and carer engagement in their children’s learning to increase their success at school. These workshops were supported by Schools Plus and the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. Presenters included Keynotes explaining evidence-based approaches and research, and school Leaders, parents and students shared exemplar case studies around parent/carer engagement and agency in student learning. Assumptions were challenged and participants spoke of the need to shift attitudes from accepting minimal parent engagement to being transparent and working collaboratively with parents to increase student’s success at school.

The second workshop, ‘Leading for Educational Change’ was presented to school leaders and teachers, parents and students in Broken Hill and Dubbo. The workshop generated deep discussion with school leaders about research-based practice in schools and systems. We visited schools in Nyngan and Walgett. During these visits, Professor Adrian Piccoli presented on the topic Parent and Community Engagement for Learning’. Participants valued the honesty and authenticity of presenters and commented on the quality of presenters and their passion and depth of knowledge.

Across all professional learning programs delivered throughout the 2019 rural and remote tours, 92% of participants indicated that they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the quality of the program. Returned feedback surveys showed that participants across the four professional learning days valued:

“the innovative community engagement strategy examples and case studies”

“Adrian [Piccoli’s] perspectives as someone not a teacher but who has a high level of understanding based on his prior experiences”

“the inclusion of students and hearing from the student perspective”

“the case studies – real people, real schools making a real difference. Reinvigorated my passion again – thank you”

“the case studies, which provided excellent thought-provoking content and demonstrated how change has been applied in real context”

“the a-political advocacy role of the Gonski Institute”


We would like to thank our remarkable presenters for their time and contribution to the successful running of our Rural and Remote professional learning tour.


Presenters included:

Lila Mularczyk OAM, Professor Pasi Sahlberg, Professor Adrian Piccoli, Dr Tony Loughland, Maura Manning (Schools Plus), Murray Kitteringham (Principal, Sir Joseph Banks High School), Janeen Silcock (Principal, Ballina Coast High School), Louise Reynolds (Principal, Granville East Public School), Chris Williams (Principal, The Rivers Secondary College, Lismore Campus), Kirt Swanbury (Deputy Principal, The Rivers Secondary College, Lismore Campus), Sam Cox (Analysist, NSW Department of Education, Centre of Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE)), Ann Caro (Principal, Lithgow High Schol), Nau Mahe (Community liaison Officer, Murrumbidgee Regional High Schoool), Ian McCarthy, (Principal Analysist, CESE), Monica St Baker (Principal, Hanwood Public School), Tracey Breese (Principal, Kurri Kurri High School) and Lee-Ann Saurins (Principal, Valentine Public School) and a number of students.