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Rural Teaching: Here’s why you should ‘Go Bush’ as an Educator

Rural teaching can be an unforgettable experience that is guaranteed to open your eyes while also having the potential to fast track your career. For new graduates and experienced teachers alike, a stint in the country is a great way to expand your professional horizons while experiencing life in the bush. If you’re considering teaching in a rural school, most states and territories provide incentives in the form of additional pay and reimbursed expenses to make the process a little easier. Want to know more? Read on for some of the major benefits of teaching rurally, plus stories from teachers who have done it.  

“Both of my parents were teachers who raved about their experience doing country service, so when I was offered a permanent position with ED QLD in a rural part of the state, I took it. My time there was challenging but incredibly rewarding, giving me opportunities that I wouldn’t have received teaching in a metro area. Working rurally well and truly shaped my teaching philosophy: everyone deserves an education. If you’re thinking about taking a teaching position in a rural area, go for it!”

Incentives for Country Teaching 

Depending on your state or territory, there are many incentives that go along with rural teaching including support with relocation costs, free or subsidised housing, higher rates of pay or additional allowances.  

Click one of the links below to see the incentives for that state or territory: 

Teaching in rural NSW 

Rural teaching jobs in QLD 

Rural teaching jobs in South Australia 

Rural teaching in Victoria 

Rural teaching in Western Australia 

Rural teaching in Northern Territory  

“I absolutely loved my time teaching rurally. At first, it’s hard being isolated from your family, but I got to know the students and their families extremely well and made friendships with the locals and other staff. One thing teaching rurally will do is help you adapt to change. I'll always remember turning up to school one day to find there were an extra 15 students in my class as the Oodnadatta Races had brought an influx of families to town.”

Benefits of Rural Teaching  

Teaching in a rural area in Australia is a unique and fulfilling experience that offers numerous advantages for educators looking to make a meaningful impact on their students and communities. 

  • Smaller Class Sizes 

One of the most significant advantages of teaching in rural areas is the smaller class sizes. In contrast to crowded urban classrooms, rural schools typically have fewer students per class. This smaller student-to-teacher ratio allows educators to provide more personalized attention, tailor their teaching methods, and build stronger relationships with their students. It’s easier to identify individual learning needs and adapt teaching strategies accordingly, resulting in a more effective and rewarding teaching experience. 

  • Strong Sense of Community 

Rural communities in Australia are known for their close-knit bonds and strong sense of community. As a teacher in a rural area, you become an integral part of this community fabric. You’ll have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships not only with your students but also with their families and the broader community. This sense of belonging fosters a supportive and collaborative environment, making it easier to address the unique challenges and needs of your students. 

  • Diverse Learning Opportunities 

Teaching in rural Australia offers a diverse range of learning opportunities that may not be available in urban settings. Rural schools often emphasize outdoor and experiential learning, taking advantage of the natural beauty and resources in their surroundings. Whether it’s organizing nature hikes, science experiments in the local environment, or agricultural programs, rural educators have the chance to inspire a deep connection to nature and local culture in their students. 

  • Enhanced Professional Growth 

Rural teaching roles often require educators to wear multiple hats. You may find yourself teaching a variety of subjects, organizing extracurricular activities, or collaborating with other community organizations. This diversity of responsibilities can lead to significant professional growth and the development of a wide range of skills. Teachers in rural areas become resourceful problem-solvers and adaptable educators, well-equipped to handle various challenges in the classroom and beyond. 

  • Reduced Cost of Living 

While rural teaching positions can sometimes come with a lower salary compared to their urban counterparts, the cost of living in rural areas is typically lower as well. This can translate into a more comfortable and balanced lifestyle for educators, allowing them to save money or invest in their personal and professional development. 

  • Unique Cultural Experiences 

Rural areas in Australia are often home to vibrant and unique cultural traditions. Teaching in these regions gives educators the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture, learn from their students’ diverse backgrounds, and participate in community events and celebrations. These experiences can be incredibly enriching and broaden a teacher’s perspective. 

“I’m at the end of my career, so teaching rurally has been a great way to finish on a high note. It's been lovely to feel a part of the community and receive support from leadership, as our student cohort can be challenging. The experience of teaching rurally has taught me to be resourceful, independent and to solve my own problems. I would encourage any educator considering teaching rurally to give it a go! We look out for one another and at the end of the day there is a real appreciation for your work.”

Teaching in Rural NSW 

In NSW, the Department of Education encourages teaching in rural areas through their teach.Rural program. In addition to significant availability of teaching positions, educators taking positions in rural areas are eligible for benefits like: 

  • A Rural Teacher Incentive of between $20,000-$30,000 per annum 
  • An Experienced Teacher Benefit of $10,000 for a maximum of 5-years 
  • Retention benefit of $5,000 per annum 
  • Rental subsidy of 50% at certain schools 
  • Additional leave and professional development days 

Rural Teaching Jobs in QLD 

The Queensland Government uses many incentives to fill teaching vacancies in rural areas of the state. In addition to the teaching salary, other benefits on offer for educators teaching in rural areas of Queensland include: 

  • Financial support for teachers and their families through the Recognition of Rural abd Remote Service Scheme 
  • Relocation assistance 
  • Subsided housing 
  • Extra career progression opportunities 

Rural Teaching Jobs in South Australia  

The South Australian Department of Education, in partnership with ClassCover run the Country Relief and Capacity Program, specifically targeting temporary relief teachers (TRTs). The program aims to secure TRTs for rural schools that would otherwise struggle to find them. By offering incentives, the program offers casual teachers in Adelaide and across the state the opportunity to work at schools in rural areas for a period of between 5-19 days. Some of the incentives include: 

  • Continuous work in a school (or multiple by arrangement) for 5-19 days. 
  • Accommodation is booked and paid for by DfE. 
  • Flights or mileage reimbursements depending on location. 
  • $97.30 in meal and incidentals allowances daily (including weekends) which is not subject to taxation and payable after assignment or mid-way by arrangement. 
  • Normal TRT rates paid via the host school. 
  • The opportunity to see parts of SA you haven’t seen or wish to return to 
  • Flexibility of when and where you work. 
  • Purpose – the difference a single TRT can make to a regional or remote school is profound. 

Click here to learn more and apply.  

Rural Teaching in Victoria 

The Victorian government has introduced a number of initiatives to attract educators to schools in rural parts of the state that are in need. Most recently, financial incentives of up to $50,000 pre-tax plus annual retention payments and relocation costs have been announced to attract teachers to hard to staff schools in the state.  

At the same time, the Teach Rural pilot program was launched in 2023 to give over 200 student teachers from the University of Melbourne the opportunity to do their placements at regional schools in the state. By providing funding to subsidise accommodation during placement and focusing on providing a support network, the program aims to remove the barriers preventing student teachers from doing their placement in rural areas.  

Also announced is a more general plan to boost the number of teachers joining the profession by reimbursing university fees for students who go on to teach in Victorian state secondary schools.  

Rural Teaching in Western Australia 

Teachers in Western Australia may be eligible for a range of benefits if they choose to work in rural and remote areas. These include: 

  • Allowances of up to $35,000 per year, in addition to your salary 
  • Subsidised or free housing—depending on your location 
  • Relocation support 
  • Subsidised transport 
  • Subsidised utilities  

Rural Teaching in Northern Territory 

The Northern Territory is unique in that 70% of the region’s public schools are located in remote and rural areas. These schools account for almost 50% of the students in the territory. To attract educators to these schools, the Northern Territory government offers a range of incentives, including: 

  • Financial incentives for teachers 
  • Relocation assistance 
  • Rental concessions 
  • Greater opportunities for career advancement 
  • Additional study and professional learning opportunities  

“I decided to teach in a rural area to connect with my country and the local community. The experience taught me to be creative in my approach to teaching and learning. I was teaching in Mimili APY lands during the COVID lockdown, and I would take students and Aṉangu educators out to country (with approval from elders and the school) to culturally significant sites to do classes. Teaching is about connecting to the world and the landscape around us. I would encourage every teacher to consider teaching rurally. My advice is to go with an open heart and an open brain.”

Teaching in a rural area in Australia is not just a job; it’s a chance to make a lasting impact on the lives of students and become an integral part of a tight-knit community. The benefits of teaching in rural Australia include smaller class sizes, a strong sense of community, diverse learning opportunities, enhanced professional growth, a lower cost of living, and unique cultural experiences. If you’re an educator looking for a rewarding and fulfilling teaching experience, consider venturing into the heart of rural Australia. Your contribution will be appreciated, and the memories you create will last a lifetime. 

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