The Diocese of Truro is one of nine pilot regions joining the new Rural Teaching Partnership. Cornish schools, serving areas of rural deprivation, will take part in a campaign to attract the brightest and best young teachers to come to the area.

The national Church of England, education charity Teach First and the Chartered College of Teaching are launching the new Rural Teaching Partnership. It will see trainee teachers, trained by Teach First, start two-year placements with Church of England primary schools in September 2021.

Those newly graduated teachers selected for placements will join either Church of England schools, or non-Church of England schools which are part of a Church of England federation or multi academy trust.

By coming together, these three organisations hope to tackle teacher recruitment challenges currently faced by schools in poorer rural areas, with evidence showing that rural school leaders face greater difficulties with staff recruitment and retention compared to urban schools.

The Diocese of Truro supports the work of 44 Church of England schools of varying sizes, many in rural or isolated locations.

“Attracting teachers can be very challenging”

“Attracting teachers to rural locations like Cornwall can be very challenging. The Rural Teaching Partnership will work with local communities and parishes to support trainee teachers, addressing some of the challenges of working in a rural location,” says Katie Fitzsimmons, the diocesan director of education. “Trusts and other providers already offer a variety of routes into teaching in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which the pilot will sit alongside. It will also augment training tailored to the needs in our smallest schools.”

“We want to ensure that the children and young people of Cornwall benefit from more of the best young teachers entering the profession and being an active part of the Rural Teaching Partnership will help secure more to come to the county.”

With more than half of its 4,644 schools situated in rural areas, the Church of England is the majority provider of small rural schools nationally.  As well as Cornwall, the two year pilot will take place in Derbyshire, Norfolk, Yorkshire (Diocese of Leeds and York combined), Dorset (Diocese of Salisbury), Essex (Diocese of Chelmsford), Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, and Somerset (Diocese of Bath and Wells).

All trainee teachers in the partnership will be enrolled on Teach First’s Training Programme, which has recruited, trained and placed over 15,000 trainee teachers in schools serving disadvantaged communities to date. They will receive ongoing support and training from Teach First throughout the two years and will also benefit from bespoke training for rural school settings, such as teaching multiple year groups.

The partnership will also see new rural education networks set up for peer support between trainees. The Chartered College of Teaching will have a lead role in setting these up across the pilot regions, focusing on high quality teacher development sessions on issues particular to rural contexts.

In its 2018 publication, Embracing Change, the Church of England highlighted the challenge for rural schools, where delivery of education services is typically more expensive per child than in urban areas, but emphasised its commitment to these schools as part of a diverse national education provision. The report highlighted the need to recruit excellent teachers and leaders, and to find new ways of working collaboratively, aims which the new scheme will help to progress.