In March 2015, The Hon Robyn McSweeney MLC was appointed Chairperson and RREAC reviewed and refined its focus areas for 2015-2016. These include:
- access of students in the rural and remote areas of the state to comprehensive education at the senior secondary level (Years 11 and 12) - in its various modes of delivery
- access to secondary school for Aboriginal students
- access to boarding facilities for Aboriginal students
Following discussion at the Rural and Remote Education Advisory Council (RREAC) meeting held on 30 November 2012, the Council determined that it would focus on the following priorities.
Attraction and retention of quality teachers
- Issues arising include:
- support for graduate teachers in rural and remote areas
- enabling pre-service teachers to experience life and work in rural and remote locations
- remote Aboriginal students, staff and community partnerships - ability of teachers and staff to help build partnerships between community, schools and students (in respect to this RREAC will work closely with the Western Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Council).
Attracting and retaining quality school leaders
Issues arising include:
- building leadership and capacity in schools to bridge the link between schools and community
- implications of funding cuts for rural and remote schools and students (for example staffing, capacity building, support for graduates, and enabling pre-service experiences).
Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS)
VETiS represents a suite of programs that enable students to undertake accredited training while enrolled at school. In accordance with the nationally-agreed definition, VETiS programs are undertaken by school students as part of their senior secondary studies and contribute to a nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET) qualification within the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).
VETiS was launched in 1997 with the primary objectives of increasing school student retention and improving the transition between senior secondary education and post-school employment and training options.
In recent years, VETiS has been seen as a strategy for addressing industry skill shortages. As such, VETiS now has the important focus of leading to an occupational outcome.
It is believed that regional students are disadvantaged in both access to and quality of VET in Schools programs. The main issues are:
- thin markets (small numbers of students who want to access a particular qualification), therefore financially not viable for the RTO and/or the school
- inability to offer a range of programs due to a lack of qualified staff
- VETiS programs that do not give students a realistic workplace experience, and therefore do not give the students skills that reflect current workplace practices
- accommodation and transport
- a suite of qualifications that are on offer that may not lead to employment outcomes
- the place and role of VET in the tertiary education sector, world of work and community.
The Minister for Education noted that Aboriginal education was a priority area. As such RREAC has embedded Aboriginal education within the contexts of the previous two priority areas.
The Rural and Remote Education Advisory Council (RREAC) met on six occasions in 2012-2013, including one meeting in the Wheatbelt region.
In line with its Terms of Reference and the Minister's directions, RREAC presented its final reports on future uses of technology in rural and remote schools and on the Council's regional meeting in the Kimberley region to the Minister.
- The Future Uses of Technology in Education in Rural and Remote Western Australia report was finalised and forwarded to the Minister in September 2012. Strategic priorities and five key recommendations were included. The Minister endorsed all five recommendations with further action undertaken in response.
- RREAC's report on its Kimberley Region Meeting was finalised and forwarded to the Minister in March 2013. Three key recommendations that focused on the role Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers and technology were included.
- Recommendations within the reports endorsed by the Minister have been actioned with responses received from all education sectors/providers. RREAC continues to progress these actions.
Strategic Planning in 2012 identified two priorities for 2012-2013:
- attraction and retention of quality teachers
- Vocational Education and Training in Schools (VETiS).