A commitment to regional education

Narrandera Public School principal Sue Ruffles with Deputy Secretary for School Operations and Performance for the NSW Department of Education, Murat Dizdar.

Narrandera Public School’s Principal, Sue Ruffles, was recently awarded a Fellowship of the NSW Primary Principals’ Association (NSW PPA).

Ms Ruffles was presented her award by Murat Dizdar, the Deputy Secretary of School Operations and Performance for NSW Department of Education.

The NSWPPA is an organisational network of primary school principals, which provides professional development, support, advocacy and consultation for its members.

Ms Ruffles has been a primary school principal since 1998, working at Ganmain Public School. Since then, she has been a tireless advocate for rural and regional education.

“I was nominated by my peer principal colleagues for this fellowship,” Ms Ruffles said.

“It’s a great honour to receive and it particularly raises the profile of rural education issues across the state.”

“Geographical location and travelling distances, drought-affected communities, attracting and retaining high quality staff, declining populations and services in rural and remote communities, funding equity for public schools and rural and isolated communities, access to quality professional learning opportunities for staff and coordinated supports involving other government and non-government agencies – these are just some key issues that are continually on the table to be addressed.”

Currently rural and remote schools across the state suffer from what is known as the ‘remoteness gap’, where students from remote areas tend to perform worse on international standard testing.

While it is not unique to Australia, our country has a higher gap than most OECD countries, and NSW has a larger gap than any other state or territory. This ‘gap’ is compounded by issues like those raised by Ms Ruffles.

Throughout her 20 year career as a principal, Ms Ruffles has campaigned strongly for better outcomes for rural and regional schools; as a result, many of the issues identified in the NSW Department of Education report Rural and Remote Education – A blueprint for action were closely aligned with the issues she’d advocated for.

Ms Ruffles was the Area State Council Delegate for Griffith for about eight years, ensuring that the voice of principals in rural and remote locations was heard.

She also participated in the NSWPPA Rural and Remote Working Party for many years and is currently the chairperson of the NSWPPA Rural Education Standing Committee.

Ms Ruffles has spent years campaigning for better outcomes for rural and regional schools; as a result, many of the issues identified in the NSW Department of Education report Rural and Remote Education – A blueprint for action were closely aligned with the issues she’d advocated for.

Over the years, Ms Ruffles has also argued for a director of rural and regional schools within the Department of Education; someone who could advocate for and co-ordinate the resources that regional schools uniquely need.

She has also been instrumental in organising con-ferences and training days to provide professional

learning for other principals and senior staff, and en-courages new principals to join the NSW PPA in light of its benefits to primary principals.

“I feel extremely privileged to be an active member of this strong and committed professional association,” Ms Ruffles said.

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