Sunday, April 25, 2010

Teaching in country NSW

Back in March, Thomas said that he was working out where he might teach in NSW.

I have come to think, and will compile my first list with this frame of mind, in teaching rural. Very rural. At the moment, I’ve just organised schools by the TEPS benefits that are associated (yes, that is the primary factor regarding my school choice at the moment, with a real want to move out of home as soon as possible being my second factor), and am working from the top.

I had to look up just what TEPS was - the Teacher Employment Priority Scheme. NSW has long had a problem in getting teachers for more remote areas and especially in inland NSW. The TEPS ranking for individual schools is a measure of this. A range of special benefits are offered for certain schools in rural NSW to attract teachers. These can be quite substantial.

schools2 Now Thomas has refined his thinking and included this map of possible schools on his blog. With one exception, Emmaville, the schools all lie on the western slopes and plains.

A few years ago when we were doing some work for what was then called Country Week on regional employment opportunities, I had a fair bit of contact with teachers from the type of schools that Thomas is talking about. They came to the Expos to sell the story of country teaching.

The thing that really stood out in my mind was their sheer enthusiasm. They obviously wouldn't have been at the Expo otherwise, but the pattern was repeated over three years. They were enthusiastic about life in their communities and about the innovations in teaching that they had tried.

Teaching in this type of school is not for all. Some become completely absorbed. Others struggle with isolation, with life in a smaller community and with specific school problems linked in part to the way we have been progressively depopulating parts of inland NSW.

However, to do as Thomas is planning to do is to gain exposure to a different world, one that is becoming increasingly remote from the modern urbanised world of our metropolitan centres.

Cousin Jamie has taken some absolutely wonderful photos of this world. Based now in Wagga Wagga, Jamie roams with his camera when not cooking or relief teaching. Do browse the photos. You don't need to know the areas to appreciate them.      


Thomas said...

Thanks for the nod Jim. I am quite looking forward to the opportunity should I manage to get one. The hoops that one has to jump through to be considered for (let alone get) a job are numerous.

I have a few contacts who have experiences with the teaching and social setting out 'there'. They all have said the same as you: that it's a whole different world in a sense. And, with the hum-drum of Sydney wearing on me, I look forward to possibly embracing that type of change.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Thomas. Assuming that you survive sky diving, it should be fun.

Interested in your comments on hoops. Is it hard at the moment to actually get a job?

Thomas said...

Well, it's a staged sort of process. The simplest way to get a job is to go through the Graduate Recruitment Program (GRP). You get interviewed by a panel in regards to questions relating to the elements of the NSW Institute of Teachers framework. They grade your responses according to R1, R2 and whatever the third category is, where R1 is highly recommended, R2 is the next stage down, and the final one won't see you get recommended.

They combine your responses with your academic transcript and your practicum reports to gather whether you will be a targeted graduate. There's, maybe, 400 spots available for targeted graduates.

If you are targeted, then they look at the list of schools that you have put down in your preferred locations (like my list you've seen) and if there is a job available in one of those schools then you are eligible to fill it by appointment. If there are no vacancies, then even if you are targeted, you won't get your job.

R1's and R2's are more likely to get a job if they include a whole range of schools that come from the hard to staff areas. But and R1 is more likely to get a job in the not hard to staff areas, whereas an R2 is less likely.

But to get even to the GRP you have to get a statement from the NSW Institute of Teachers that you are even eligible to teach to begin with. They require you to fill out a batch of forms to get that statement, which includes getting transcripts from the university.

And then when you get that form you include it with another batch of forms to get a registration with the DET. This also requires transcripts from the university as well as you having to give them some forms filled out.

If you don't get taregeted, then you have to apply to vacancies along with everyone else who wants the job. In the meantime, you do casual teaching or temporary blocks. So it obviously pays to get targeted.

If you're applying to schools like my list, you generally have to go through what is called the Aboriginal Initiative, whereby your interview has a focus on Aboriginal educational issues and learning. This is an off-shoot of the GRP.

It's a tedious and often confusing process.

Jim Belshaw said...

Bloody hell, Thomas. That is a very complex process. You haven't mentioned the child safety issue, but I guess that's another hurdle.

Do you mind if I bring your comment up into a main post? I ask because I don't want to complicate your life.

Thomas said...

No, by all means use it.

The child protection part is the strangest aspect actually. Part of the forms that go to the DET is a criminal check. We have had lectures through the degree about working with children, which covers part of it. The other part is in the interview that we have, where they ask if we're aware of certain aspects. That's about it. It seems to be the easiest part!

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Thomas. Interesting that the child safety aspect seems the easiest part!

Thomas said...

I am miffed by it as well. I would have thought it to be the more difficult of stages, requiring its own interview and a raft of paperwork to satisfy the authorities. But, no, it's a one-page form and the easiest question in the GRP interview.

Lisa said...

Hi. Really intereting Blog and I love the perspective from Thomas... Im interested to find out how he went?
I am a mature age student in WA studying to become a teacher with the long term plan of moving to NSW. I was wondering if you (or Thomas) had any idea how this might work, given everything I have read predetermines you have studied in NSW.
Hoping you can help.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thomas is the best person to comment, Lisa. I know that he is very busy marking, but I will tweet him to alert him to your comment.

Thomas said...

Hi Lisa.

As I understand it, you would have to go through the same 'checks' that a NSW graduate would have to as well. It's reasonably straight forward too.

First, you have to send all your documentation to the NSW Institute of Teachers. They are the ones who assess whether you have the correct qualifications and register you as a teacher within the system.

That happens here:

Simultaneously (because neither really happens fast) you apply online to the Department itself for their own evaluation of you.

That happens here:

When you apply online to the Department, you will get the chance to put in your preferred locations (which this all seemed to start), and this is where you get to put in your preferences for the rural schools (if that's your pick).

You will have to consent to the security checks and whatnot that are attached to all of these kinds of jobs. This is the bit that holds up the whole process. If you can get a principal to email the Department to urge them to hurry up because they want to employ you (as a casual, etc.) then it will get done a whole lot faster.

And then, around the same time, you will need to book in an interview with the Department. They ask you a set of questions linked to the Quality Teaching Framework (see here: You then get ranked not employable (it is very hard to get this rank); employable (the large cohort get this); and then recommended for employment (where you will get offered a place, generally 400 a year get this (out of thousands)).

When you have submitted your applications, you can apply for an interim casual approval number and you will be able to work as a casual teacher in NSW. You are also able to apply for permanent jobs as they come up for advertisement.

I didn't end up going country, as I had a few doors open before I actually graduated (and opportunities that would have been a bit silly to ignore). But I realise now it might have been a bit difficult to actually get a country job. Schools don't really give jobs to unknown quantities if they have the opportunity to go with the person they know.

So I would recommend that you might try and call a few country schools once you get in NSW and say to them that you are looking for some casual work in the country to 'get a lay of the land' and what would be the chances of getting some work if you came out. They might say come immediately, they might say there is a temporary block coming up so come in month X. The country schools are not 'flush' with options, so they will be far more accepting of someone looking to cut their teeth.

I'm sure i haven't answered all of your questions, but I will be monitoring this comment thread, so if there are any more, please feel free to ask (hopefully Jim doesn't mind).

Jim Belshaw said...

Thomas, thank you very much for this. It's just the type of helpful comment that was needed.

Would you believe, though, it got caught in the Google spam trap? That was the reason why it did not appear immediatley.

Thomas said...

I was worried that there was a glitch in the system when it didn't appear because I hadn't copied it haha. Glad to see it made its way through.

Nikki said...

So I realise this comment thread finished a while ago but hoping someone can still help me out. Just wondering how you actually find out if you are a targeted grad? Is it when you get the email after your interview that tells you if you are suitable/unsuitable to teach or is that separate and they wait until they have your final Uni results to consult aswell?


Jim Belshaw said...

Thomas answered Nikki's question plus some more info on selection processes in comments on his blog -