THE Church of England, in partnership with Teach First and the Chartered College of Teaching, is to provide teacher-training placements at rural schools among disadvantaged communities.
The scheme, Rural Teaching Partnership, which will run in ten pilot regions across England, will offer trainee primary-school teachers two-year placements starting from September 2021. The C of E is the largest provider of schools in rural areas — more than half of the 4644 church-run schools in the country — where lack of transport, amenities, and housing makes recruiting and retaining trainee teachers more difficult.
Dioceses are to provide staffing support and leadership with the Chartered College of Teaching, setting up new rural education networks to enable trainees’ peer support.
The ten pilot regions are Leeds, York, Truro, Salisbury, Chelmsford, Norwich, Oxford, Hereford, Derby, and Bath and Wells.
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, the lead bishop for education, said on Wednesday: “Children in rural communities deserve excellent teachers, and this partnership is about helping to ensure the best outcomes for children in every community.
“More than a third of the 15 million people alive today who went to a Church of England school will have done so in a rural area, and will have special memories of their time. We are committed to running excellent schools in rural communities and ensuring that children who live and learn there get to work with fantastic teachers.”
In 2018, a report from the Church of England’s Education Office, Embracing Change: Rural and Small Schools, stated rural education services were more expensive per child to deliver than urban. It concluded that small rural schools could not continue to operate as stand-alone units and that there was a need to recruit excellent teachers and leaders and find new ways of working collaboratively.
The chief executive of Teach First, Russell Hobby, said: “Rural schools, particularly in areas with high deprivation, face complex challenges. This means they can struggle to recruit and retain the teachers and leaders they need for their pupils. This partnership aims to break this cycle. Not only by getting teachers to where they’re needed most, but by building powerful networks of support around them to ensure they thrive.”
The chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, Dame Alison Peacock, said: “I am pleased that the Chartered College of Teaching will be part of this exciting initiative. It will shine a light on the expertise of teaching communities in rural areas of England.”