AQ: Australian Quarterly

Rural school principals   Professional development and getting the 3Rs correct

Principals of rural schools are integral parts of their communities. They know everyone. They work twenty-four hours a day in the “fish bowl” environment of a country town. They support our country families: those kind folks who protect Australia’s iconic bush environment, our waterways, and grow our food. Principals address a myriad of needs of all the families in the entire district. I briefly examine 5 of these needs in this paper: domestic violence, juvenile justice, mental health, issues relating to indigenous students and, of course, student learning. Principals often address these issues with only the resources within their community at their disposal.

With all the complexities of the job, why would anyone be a school principal, let alone an isolated principal in the country? Rural school principals do an amazing job and are generally highly respected by community members; but who supports them?

In a 2011 survey, 46% of Australian school principals reported having undertaken no training before taking on the job. But why should training for country principals’ matter? For starters, we know that in schools where Australian principals have been trained, students achieve higher results.

46% of Australian school principals reported having undertaken no training before taking on the job.

Rural school principals deserve ready access to professional development and training that empowers them to enact their best work. Only when principals are supported can they get their 3Rs correct: Relationships, Responsibilities and Resourcing. In turn, principals can then support students get their own 3Rs correct, thereby lifting education attainment of rural students.

Australian research shows us that

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