Young, J. & Kennedy, J. (2011). Facing the challenge of retaining new teachers in rural and remote settings: A report of two case studies using a community-based mentoring model in Queensland, Australia. J. Wright. 1-11. Australia: Australian Association for Research in Education.
Attracting teachers to live and work in rural and remote schools is a continuing challenge in more isolated parts of Australia and internationally. It was this challenge that prompted the Priority Country Area Program (PCAP) to fund the trial of a Community-based Mentoring Model in Queensland to ascertain if a joint approach could make a difference for teachers. Two aims guided the research; 1) to design and implement a Community-based Mentoring Model for enhancing the lives of teachers living and working in rural and remote settings and; 2) to ascertain the effectiveness of the mentoring model by conducting two case studies in different geographic locations. One site was in a medium sized rural setting (population 900) and personnel from two schools and the local community were involved. The second was in a much smaller remote community (population 323) where local community members and school personnel participated.
Data were collected in two phases. The first data set was obtained from a State-wide survey and these data were used to identify suitable sites for the case studies and inform the design of the Community-based Mentoring Model for Phase 2. Findings reported in this paper relate to Phase 2 of the study and include pre and post individual and focus group interviews with educators and community members. Previous research has shown that both social and professional needs of new teachers in rural and remote settings need to be addressed. With this in mind, members of the school communities and the wider local community worked together to design and trial a Community-based Mentoring model. Findings from the study showed new teachers appreciated the face-to-face community-based mentoring program. Teachers felt a greater sense of welcome, became more knowledgeable about the local area, felt safer and more accepted in the new community following the implementation of the mentoring. Benefits were found for all participants and relationships between local schools and within the wider community were strengthened.
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