Dozens of teacher vacancies, slipping attendance rates and "well below" benchmark results. These are just some of the struggles facing Dubbo's schools confirmed in a damning audit into the state of rural and regional education in NSW. The report - tabled by NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford on Thursday, August 10 - revealed there are still "considerable gaps" in access and outcomes between rural and remote students and those in metro areas. One key issue highlighted in the report was the challenges regional schools faced in attracting and retaining qualified teachers. According to the report, there are currently 2,168 teacher vacancies across NSW, including 523 in inner regional areas, 314 in outer regional areas and 85 in remote and very remote areas. Last year, Dubbo College Delroy Campus was named one of the hardest schools to staff in the state. And things haven't improved much since then. In June this year, there were more than 56 teacher vacancies in the Dubbo electorate, up from 44 last year. Speaking to the Daily Liberal, Dubbo-based NSW Teachers Federation organiser Kelly Bowman, said this shortage of teachers was driving down student attendance rates and even NAPLAN results - both issues also raised but the Auditor-General. "We are seeing the bitter harvest of more than a decade of neglect," Henry Rajendra, NSW Teachers Federation acting President, said. "The Minns Government has no time to waste. It must revive and honour the agreement it had to tackle the teacher shortage, by paying teachers what they are worth." According to the audit, students outside of major cities are less likely to be attending school 90 per cent of the time or more. MySchool data reveals, in the first Semester of 2022, less than half of students were present more than 90 per cent of the time at all but one Dubbo public school. The school with the lowest attendance level was Dubbo College Delroy Campus where, in Semester one, only 17 per cent of students were present more than 90 per cent of the time. The only local public school where more than half of students were present 90 per cent of the time or more was Dubbo Public School which had an attendance level of 53 per cent. The Auditor-General also found children outside of major cities were less likely to meet reading and numeracy standards. Only 54 per cent of remote and very remote students are above the national minimum standard for reading, and even fewer, 52 per cent, for numeracy. According to the latest NAPLAN data, cohorts at Bunninyong Public School, Dubbo College South Campus, Dubbo North Public School, Dubbo South Public School and Dubbo West Public School all fell "well below" the national benchmark in at least one key area of competency. To address concerns about education in country areas, the previous state government introduced the Rural and Remote Education Strategy in 2021. Former Nationals leader John Barilaro and then Education Minister Sarah Mitchell promised it would "drive reforms and implement programs to eliminate the equity gap that exists between the bush and the city". But, the Auditor-General found the strategy was a rehash of existing programs, with no "new ideas or solutions", no timeframes and no additional resources. She determined it was "unlikely to achieve its vision that every child in regional NSW has access to the same quality of education as their metropolitan peers". Education minister Prue Car said the audit "exposed" the previous government's "contempt" for regional communities. "The Liberals and Nationals promised to close the educational gap in the bush despite being told repeatedly they did not have an adequate plan to deliver," she said. "This was shameless politics by the Liberal and Nationals and they need to apologise to parents and students in the bush." Minister Car said her government has urgently tasked the education department with reprioritising rural, regional and remote students. "We will not waste another day, and we have today asked executives in the NSW Department of Education to reprioritise our students in the bush, with a keen focus on pieces that will deliver the biggest impact," she said. Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.