High-impact leaders

The featured research on attracting and retaining high-impact leaders and educators in regional, rural and remote education is part of a suite of funded projects currently underway. They include:

Project title: Regional secondary school consolidation for equity and excellence

Chief Investigators: A/Prof Scott Eacott (UNSW), Dr Richard Niesche (UNSW), Dr Tony Loughland (UNSW), Dr Tracy Durksen (UNSW), Dr Amanda Heffernan (Monash) & Dr Brad Gobby (Curtin)

Research Assistants: Cynthia Raffe

Higher Degree Researchers: n/a

Funding source(s): Australian Federal Department of Education ($88,000)

Overview: The key challenge for regional, rural and remote education is ensuring, regardless of location or circumstances, that every young person has access to high quality schooling and opportunities (Halsey, 2018). Ten per cent or 392,559 students attend schools in regional, rural and remote Australia. Ensuring a quality education for these students is important to improve not only educational outcomes but also health, employment, wages, social inclusion, and reduce crime, incarceration and teenage pregnancy.

Recent analysis by the Gonski Institute for Education shows that closing the human capital gap between urban (major city, inner regional) and regional, rural and remote Australia would increase nation’s GDP by 3.3 per cent, or $56 billion.4 That is larger than the contribution of the entire tourism industry. The Australian government has recognised this potential and budget estimates show an increase of 74.6 per cent in funding, from $3.9 billion to $6.8 billion in the period 2017-2027 to explicitly target improving education in regional, rural and remote locations. However, the OECD notes that increasing funding alone is not enough. What are required are targeted and tailored interventions to achieve maximum return on investment.

In the absence of such data, significant reforms and policy interventions have frequently been limited to financial incentives for staff and attempts to makes schools more like their urban peers. Given the limitations of these approaches, the question of how to improve regional, rural and remote education remains one of fundamental significance internationally. Most troubling is that for Governments there is a void of evidence for how best to achieve sustainable reform.

Building on the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (RAEEAS) and the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (IRRRRE), this project will deliver:
• A report on the leadership practices of high-impact school leaders, and the impact of school leadership on student outcomes;
• A series of case studies illustrating the practices of high-impact principals and school leaders across a range of contexts;
• A report on barriers and challenges of attracting and retaining high-impact school leaders and educators in regional, rural, remote and disadvantaged schools; and
• An analysis of the non-monetary incentives to attract and retain school leaders and teachers that could be applied in different contexts, with a particular focus of rural, regional, remote and disadvantaged schools.
To achieve the above, the project design is based on two, inter-related, themes: i) High impact school leadership; and ii) Attracting and retaining high-impact leaders and educators.

Status: ongoing (2019)

Outputs: pending