Small schools

Project title: Small schools in crisis – Vital pillars of Australian education

Chief Investigators: A/Prof Scott Eacott (UNSW)

Research Assistants: TBC

Higher Degree Researchers: TBC

Funding source(s): Pending

Overview: Small schools have always been a feature of the Australian landscape. Currently there are 2,122 schools with fewer than 100 students (23% of all schools) and 44% of them have fewer than 36 students. These schools have difficulties attracting and retaining high-impact educators, particularly principals. In many locations, notably those near other schools and regional centres, it makes sense to close or merge schools. However, the presence of a school has been linked to greater social cohesion, a sense of community, high house prices employment, and population development. Despite these high social and economic stakes there is an evidence void on the impact of small schools. Building on the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration, Gonski and Halsey Reports, this project will provide a comprehensive evidence base and essential theoretical, methodological and practical insights for optimising small schools and better determining the potential impact of closing schools. Such evidence will help the government to make informed decisions balancing the needs to consolidate schools while providing high-quality and equitable education for all.

Status: ongoing – including plans to expand the project internationally.

Outputs: pending – with multiple publications under review or in-preparation