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Enriching Rural Teaching

by Michael Ford last modified 11 Dec, 2020 09:40 PM

Today the Church of England, Teach First and Chartered College of Teaching have launched an exciting project that will enrich teaching in rural areas. The Diocese of Salisbury is not only proud to be among 10 dioceses working within ‘The Rural Teaching Partnership’, but because of our strong ‘match’ to the project objectives, one of our Board of Education Team has been asked to lead on it nationally.

Nicola Coupe, a SDBE School Improvement Adviser has been seconded part time to the Church of England Education Office where she is currently liaising with the 9 other diocesan leads to identify the 80+ schools likely to be involved across the country.

She says:

“I'm thrilled to be leading on a project that is so close to my heart. I'm a passionate advocate for rural education and I know from my own headship experience the importance of early career teacher training to include how to teach in mixed age classes and how to build up confidence as a subject leader.

“My first headship was in a very small school with 2 classes.

“Our Infant Class included children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 and this required great care in planning as well as significant skill from the teacher, because it was not only 3 year groups in the same class, but 2 separate Key Stages with their curriculum challenges, as well as Reception Base Line, Year 1 Phonics and Year 2 SATs assessments to contend with!”

The Rural Teaching Partnership trainees will not only have their Summer Institute training from Teach First for 5 weeks in June and July, but they will have some bespoke ‘rural, small school’ training which is being designed especially for this project.

Most of the primary schools in our Diocese fit the Department of Education’s definition of ‘small’ which is being under 210 pupils.

Nicola says:

“As well as working within the school’s close community, teaching in a small school can give someone the opportunity to lead a subject quite early in their career, and, in order to do that well, they need support and training. I’m really glad to be working with Dame Alison Peacock and Kathryn Morgan to create some of the content of the ‘Teach Rural’ cohort’s training.

“210 is quite a large primary in a rural diocese, so we have many schools and academies that we are getting in touch with to encourage them to be part of this opportunity to match vacancies with trainee teachers registering with Teach First.”

Nicola agrees with the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Lead Bishop for Education, when he says that “Children in rural communities deserve excellent teachers.” Whilst this pilot project is about helping smaller, more rural schools to address some of the teacher recruitment challenges they face, it is also about recognising the importance of their part in serving the unique and diverse communities in which they are placed.

She says:

“The project recognises that rural deprivation is hard to quantify and is complex. It is not simply a measure of the number of children eligible for free school meals.

“The project hopes to champion the work that small schools do and to develop a cohort of Teach First trainees that will go on in their career to enrich the teaching and leadership of rural schools for years to come.”

Discover more about the Partnership at

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