Current Projects

In addition to a range of writing for publication commitments, A/Prof Eacott and his team are currently engaged in a number of research projects clustered around two main areas (school consolidation and the cult of the guru) including:



Project title: Regional secondary school consolidation for equity and excellence

Chief Investigators: A/Prof Scott Eacott (UNSW) & Prof Chris Davison (UNSW)

Research Assistants: Cherry Zin Oo; TBC;

Higher Degree Researchers: TBC

Funding source(s): New South Wales Department of Education ($148,950)

Overview: Educational equity, access and quality in regional, rural, and remote centres have emerged as serious social problems in an age of economic and social disparity and instability (Corbett, 2016, Heffernan, 2017; Niesche & Keddie, 2016). This project focuses on how, these problems are being redefined via education reforms seeking to ‘lead’ under-engaged and/or under-achieving populations through regional secondary school consolidation. This project proposes that these reforms articulate a new set of relations between education and communities and aims to provide a better understanding of this dynamic. It aims to theorize the relations among, educational, social, economic, geographic, and historical factors influencing the consolidation of regional secondary schools in contemporary Australia; understand how the leadership and governance interventions of school consolidation shape, and are shaped by, organizational practices and educational outcomes; and develop principles for school-based and systemic interventions designed to increase equity and excellence outcomes for students from regional locations.

Status: ongoing (2018-2021)

Outputs: pending


Project title: Regional Secondary School Consolidation: Experiments in School Leadership

Chief Investigators: A/Prof Scott Eacott (UNSW); Dr Amanda Heffernan (Monash); Dr Richard Niesche (UNSW)

Research Assistants: Amanda Freeborn; Shanna Langdon

Funding source(s): School of Education (UNSW Sydney) ($5,000)

Overview: This project aims to build a strong empirical foundation for current government and educational initiatives, by examining the relations among education, social, economic, geographic, and history on school consolidation in regional NSW. This project brings together previously separated domains of education research such as rural, remote and regional education, educational leadership, school reform, and school effectiveness in a large cross-national exploration of school consolidation. The project will clarify the processes by which consolidation becomes limited or enhanced, providing a new and relevant analysis of policy models, and new empirical insights into school consolidation in Australia.

Status: ongoing (2018)

Outputs: An initial paper was presented by A/Prof Eacott at the 2018 Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) conference in Melbourne as part of the Australian Showcase. The slides can be found here.


Project title: Regional secondary school consolidation: a scoping study

Chief Investigators: A/Prof Scott Eacott (UNSW), Prof Chris Davison (UNSW) & Dr Leila Morsy (UNSW)

Research Assistants: Nhu Hien Luong Phan;

Funding source(s): New South Wales Department of Education ($29,850)

Overview: This project undertook a systemic review of empirical literature on secondary school consolidation for the purpose of developing the project design for a larger longitudinal analysis of contemporary reforms in New South Wales, Australia. The report presented to the funding body included the project design and empirical support for an evaluation protocol based on leadership and governance, staff and student well-being, teaching and learning, curriculum and pathways, and community satisfaction.

Status: completed

Outputs: A formal report was launched in December 2017.



Project title: Educational leadership research and the cult of the guru

Chief Investigators: A/Prof Scott Eacott (UNSW)

Research assistant(s): TBC

Higher degree researchers: TBC

Funding source(s): pending

Overview: This project builds on an earlier claim that there is a ‘cult of the guru’ in educational leadership. To do so, it combines an appropriation of Hall’s Kardashian index, an analysis of Twitter tagging relations, and relational theory for the purpose of establishing an empirical foundation for ongoing dialogue and debate as to whether there is a ‘cult of the guru’ in educational leadership research. As part of a broader digital turn in knowledge generation, distribution, and consumption, the argument of this paper is that notion research expertise is shifting. Traditional modes of acquiring and sustaining research capital (e.g., publications, citations, research income) have been replaced by social presence, profile building, and the curation of followership. For an applied field, the role of research expertise is of considerable importance. With an increasing number of school leaders turning to social media for their professional learning, the recasting of research expertise to those curating followership, and potentially divorced from research performance, is of timely significance for the ongoing credibility of the field both internally and within the broader academy.

Status: ongoing

Outputs: A number of journal articles and conference papers have been generated from this project, including:

Book chapters

Eacott, S. (2019). How not to be seduced by common-sense. In J.S. Brooks, & A. Heffernan, (Eds.), The school leadership survival guide: what to do when things go wrong, how to learn from mistakes, and why you should prepare for the worst. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Journal articles

Eacott, S. (2018). Ranting, raving, and complaining: reflections on working against the orthodoxy. International Journal of Leadership in Education.

Eacott, S. (2017). School leadership and the cult of the guru: The neo-Taylorism of Hattie. School Leadership & Management, doi:

Conference papers:

Eacott, S. (2018). Educational leadership researchers, (social) scientific credibility, and the Kardashian index. Paper presented the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, Sydney, Australia.

Eacott, S. (2018). Twitter tagging cartels, social science Kardashians, and the cult of the guru. Paper presented the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, Sydney, Australia.