Australian Remote Education Tutors and Universities
Proposed Innovative Partnerships for Credentialling Adult Supervisors of School Students Enrolled in Distance Education
Currently, an almost exclusively female workforce provides the government mandated adult supervision of Australian primary and secondary school students enrolled in distance education, including geographically isolated learners. These Remote Education Tutors (RETs) include unpaid family support providers and externally employed governesses and home tutors who are paid by the children's families. This crucial position has no prerequisite qualifications, which in turn generates occupational invisibility and an absence of recognised career pathways for the individuals fulfilling the responsibilities of this role. In response, we propose innovative partnerships for credentialling the experiences and effectiveness of Australian RETs, in order to recognise their professional status and to contribute to a sustainable rural education workforce. Such credentialling will entail dynamic and mutually responsive collaborations among the distance education stakeholders, including the tutors, the children's families and the universities charged with administering such credentialling.
Evidence to support this proposal is provided by selected data from a 2021 national survey completed by 575 current and former RETs in most Australian States and Territories. These data underwent descriptive analysis that elicited four themes that encapsulated key elements of the RETs' lives and contexts: career pathways, economic disadvantage, gender roles, and educational equity. This account framed by Cardini' s (2006) politicised conceptualisation of partnerships highlights both the urgency and the complexity of envisaging and enacting situationally responsive rural communityuniversity collaborations to support this vital yet invisible segment of the Australian educational workforce.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Patrick Alan Danaher, Brad McLennan, Karen L. Peel, Elizabeth Burnett
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