The Perennials and Trends of Rural Education

Discourses that Shape Research and Practice


  • John Guenther Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education
  • Melyssa Fuqua University of Melbourne
  • Susan Ledger University of Newcastle
  • Serena Davie Department of Education Western Australia
  • Hernan Cuervo University of Melbourne
  • Laurence Lasselle University of St Andrews
  • Natalie Downes University of Canberra



community and relationships, rurality, deficit discourse, aspiration and achievement, equity, rights, justice, teacher preparation, curriculum, pedagogy, resourcing, parents and families, rural education


For over 30 years, the Journal of the Society for Provision of Education in Rural Australia has reported research and practice discourses associated with rural, regional and remote education, with the aim of impacting policy and practices relating to education in rural Australia. The journal, originally named Education in Rural Australia, commenced in 1991 and, with an increasingly international focus, changed to the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education in 2012.

This article critically synthesises the content of the Journal, which includes 500 unique contributions. The articles were placed into an NVivo project and coded using themes derived from word frequency counts. The critical analysis identifies nine perennial themes that appear regularly throughout the 33 volumes: aspiration, success and achievement; community and relationships at the centre of rural education; curriculum, pedagogy and assessment; deficit discourses; equity, rights and justice; parents and family; resourcing and funding; rurality and place, and teacher preparation. In addition, the analysis identifies trending issues, which wax and wane over the Journal’s life.

This article highlights the Journal’s important and sustained contribution to research evidence for rural education. From the perennial and trending issues, it is possible to see the interconnections and influences between themes, but also the absence of discourses in certain areas that calls for future research. The analysis has policy implications for education stakeholders, particularly given that some of the concerns raised by the articles in the Journal remain largely unanswered more than 30 years on. This article calls for change and challenges policy makers to address issues that we already know exist and have provided possible solutions.

Author Biography

John Guenther, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

John is the Research Leader Education and Training, with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, based in Darwin, Northern Territory. Over the last 20 years John has conducted research and evaluation projects which have focused on remote contexts, covering all states and territories of Australia. While his work has focused mainly on learning, the intersections between training and education with health, wellbeing, traditional knowledge systems, economic, natural resource management, mining and a range of social issues, feature in his work.
John's research expertise extends from an array of practical qualitative and quantitative methodologies for research and evaluation, through to a range of theoretical and philosophical perspectives. He is interested in the translation of empirical evidence to policy and practice settings. He has a growing publishing track record and regularly contributes to conferences and researcher forums to share his knowledge. 
John supervises and mentors several higher degree research students across Australia and supports networks and collaborations in several universities across Australia.



06-10-2023 — Updated on 15-11-2023

How to Cite

Guenther, J., Fuqua, M., Ledger, S., Davie, S., Cuervo, H., Lasselle, L., & Downes, N. (2023). The Perennials and Trends of Rural Education: Discourses that Shape Research and Practice. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 33(3), 1–31.

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