A big step for rural educators

By Daniel Hughes

Finley's Kate Littlejohn is making history for rural secondary school educators.

The Finley High School teacher has become the first rural educator to take on the role of HSIE Advisor 7-12 of the Learning and Teaching Directorate for the NSW Department of Education.

Mrs Littlejohn was surprised by her selection for the role and said it could pave the way for more interest to teaching roles in rural areas.

“In the past it would have been unthinkable for someone that didn’t want to move to Sydney to be able to apply for and be successful in gaining this position,” she said.

“The fact that it has been embraced in such a positive and meaningful way suggests that maybe things are shifting and that there will be more opportunities for rural teachers in the future, which could have big impacts on the desirability of working in rural spaces.

“It is pretty exciting and humbling. I have always been a passionate advocate for rural equity, especially in education, and it feels like this achievement has been a result of that advocacy to a certain degree.

“I am really happy that I will be able to work within the confines of this role to continue to put rural students and rural schools at the centre of curriculum thinking, rather than being considered as an afterthought.

“Having rural voices in all elements of education is so important for the continued support of our teachers and our students.”

Having filled a similar position remotely for the last year while teaching at Finley High School, Mrs Littlejohn will be fulfilling the role with confidence.

The Finley resident said she has a long history with the town and is glad the position won't change her living circumstances.

“I was relieving in the role for eight weeks after the previous advisor was promoted into a new position,” Mrs Littlejohn said.

“I have lived in Finley, with a few breaks, my whole life.

“I moved away for uni and work after I finished school but moved back before getting married.

“I was lucky enough to secure a permanent position at Finley High School in 2011 and loved teaching history there. FHS is an amazing school – I graduated from FHS in 2003 as dux and school captain.

“Traditionally this role has been done by someone in Sydney but recently the department has opened up their recruitment for a range of roles to allow remote work.

“I will be based in the Deniliquin Education Office as it is the closest to Finley.

“Utilising remote connective technologies makes it totally manageable from here, although there will be certain times where travel to Sydney and other parts of the state are involved.”

Within her new role she will provide advice about the 17 syllabuses that fall into the HSIE key learning area for secondary schools, both to senior officers and ministers, and to teachers across the state.

Mrs Littlejohn will also be expected to provide a range of support and professional development for HSIE teachers across the state, including face to face workshops, written teaching resources and eLearning modules.