The Australian Council for Education Leaders would like to formally announce this year’s Australian Showcase as part of the line-up for 2018 National Conference “Evidence & Experience”

The Australian Showcase joins an esteemed line-up of keynotes undoubtedly presenting the greatest line-up in the event’s history. The Australian Showcase will take place on Day 2 of the three day premier event and feature all Australian keynote speakers discussing and presenting local issues and learnings. Comprising the showcase ACEL are delighted to welcome Scott Eacott relational theorist Gonski Institute for Education UNSW, Helen Wildy Dean & Head of the Graduate School of Education, University of WA, Jenny Gore Laureate Professor School of Education University of Newcastle and Tom Bentley Executive Director for Policy & Impact at RMIT University.



Scott Eacott is a relational theorist in the School of Education | Gonski Institute for Education at UNSW Sydney and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). He has previously worked at The University of Newcastle, Australia, the Australian Catholic University, and the NSW Department of Education. Dr Eacott is widely published with contributions and interests falling into three main areas: i) a relational approach to organizational theory in education; ii) theory / methodology, and iii) strategy in education. Current projects include: Regional secondary school consolidation – experiments in school leadership; and Principals’ Experiencing Time (for further details see He is Founding Co-Editor of the Educational Leadership Theory book series (Springer), and his latest book is Beyond leadership: a relational approach to organizational theory in education (2018, Springer).

Session: Regional secondary school consolidation: Assessing the evidence and experience
Throughout Australia, governments and school systems are currently engaging in substantial activity designed to improve equity, access, and achievement in rural, regional, and remote education. While much of this activity involves attracting and retaining teachers and leaders, personal and professional challenges, and educational opportunity, relatively little attention has been paid to school reform initiatives in leadership and governance. With a focus on recent policy moves to consolidate regional secondary schools, in this session I bring three matters into conversation: i) the evidence base of school consolidation; ii) the equity and excellence disparity between regional / rural and metropolitan schools; and iii) the experiences of school staff undergoing a consolidation process. In doing so I highlight the problems and possibilities of bringing two schools together for the purpose of improving the equity and excellence outcomes for students.  In addition, I introduce an emerging framework created to assist school teams in working through significant reforms. 


Professor Wildy’s background as a student of a very small rural primary school in Western Australia underpins her commitment to education, particularly the leadership of small schools. As a secondary Mathematics teacher she taught at all levels of secondary schools and across sectors in Western Australia and Victoria. As an academic for the past 18 years, her teaching expertise is in the fields of leadership and research methods. She coordinates, and teaches into, a bespoke Master of School Leadership to prepare and support school principals in the decentralising system of the Department of Education in Western Australia.

Professor Wildy currently conducts research and supervises doctoral and Masters students in a range of school leadership and assessment topics, particularly related to the use of assessment data by school leaders. She also conducts research into the use of digital technologies in the development of literacy, and the implementation of the new national frameworks for Early Years Education and Care. Her ARC grants have funded research into the development and application of standards for school leaders. She has been chief investigator or co-chief investigator in research projects worth more than A$10m since 2000. She publishes extensively in highly regarded international and national journals on a range of topics related to leadership, standards, and qualitative research approaches.

Professor Wildy sits on a range of School Boards, primary and secondary, private and state schools. She has held leadership positions on professional organisations connected to teaching, leadership and school governance, as well as in the tertiary sector. She belongs to international and national professional research organisations.

Session: Standards: How are we faring with purposes, practices, problems?
In this session I reflect on 25 years of research, teaching and practice with standards, highlighting strengths and ongoing challenges for designers, practitioners and policy makers. I refer to standards for school leaders and professional standards for teachers to pose the questions: what counts as evidence? and how much evidence is enough to demonstrate that a standard has been met? Is the successful application of standards a matter of art? Science? Or wishful thinking?


Jenny Gore is a Laureate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Newcastle, Australia, where she was Dean of Education and Head of School at the University of Newcastle for six years (2008–2013). She completed a Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia, Canada (1983), and PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA (1990), and has held executive roles for the Australian Association for Research in Education, the Australian Council of Deans of Education, and the NSW Teacher Education Council. Currently Director of the Teachers and Teaching Research Centre and Co-Editor of the international journal, Teaching and Teacher Education, Jenny has won more than AUD $23 million in research funding including several grants awarded by the Australian Research Council.

Her educational and research interests consistently centre on quality and equity, ranging across such topics as teacher socialisation, reform in teacher education, pedagogical reform, teacher development, and student aspirations. Jenny's program of work on Quality Teaching (a framework developed with James Ladwig in 2003) has had significant impact in government, Catholic, and independent schools throughout Australia, especially in NSW and the ACT. This work subsequently led to the conceptualisation of Quality Teaching Rounds (with Julie Bowe), an innovative approach to teacher professional development. Widely published and cited (more than 9,700 citations), her recent major research projects include a longitudinal study exploring the formation of educational and career aspirations during schooling and a randomised controlled trial investigating the impact of Quality Teaching Rounds on teaching quality. Regarded as one of Australia’s leading teaching and teacher education academics, Jenny is deeply committed to supporting teachers in delivering high quality and equitable outcomes for students.

Session: Powerful professional development? Evidence on what it takes to change practice
Through rigorous forms of research, including a randomised controlled trial, Quality Teaching Rounds has been shown to make a positive difference to the quality of teaching, teacher morale, and school culture. This presentation will draw on both quantitative and qualitative evidence to demonstrate the impact of Quality Teaching Rounds, outlining its effects across a diverse range of NSW primary and secondary schools and for both experienced and beginning teachers. The essential components of Quality Teaching Rounds will be elaborated with analysis of the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the effectiveness of this form of professional development in improving teaching practice. I will highlight key features that distinguish the approach from many other forms of professional development. With applicability across all subjects, stages of learning, and schooling sectors, the multi-faceted evidence of impact has significant implications for teacher development policy and practice. Importantly, the approach is founded in respect for the capacities of the teaching workforce in Australia which is in stark contrast to some initiatives, here and around the world, that emphasise accountability at the expense of teacher growth and well-being.


Tom Bentley is a writer and policy adviser based in Melbourne. He is currently Executive Director for Policy and Impact at RMIT University. He has worked with policymakers and education systems around the world, including as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Hon Julia Gillard (2008-13), Director of Demos, the London-based think tank (1999-2006) and adviser to institutions including the OECD, Mindlab, NESTA, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Victorian Government. His publications include Educating Australia: challenges for the decade ahead (ed, with Glenn Clifton Savage, MUP 2017); and Learning Beyond the Classroom: Education for a Changing World (Routledge, 1998)

Session: Can school networks generate systemic impact?
The use of collaboration in pursuit of educational achievement and student growth has grown hugely over the last decade in Australia, including through strategies for professional learning, school to school networks and community partnerships. Education systems around Australia are now trying to integrate networks and collaborative methods into their large scale strategies for system-wide innovation and reform.

This session will discuss the lessons, issues and challenges emerging from this shift, and the potential role that innovative school networks can play in creating systemic impact.  They might do this by helping to generate student outcomes that go beyond what is possible within individual schools, and by enabling knowledge and organisational capability to be shared and spread more effectively across communities and systems.

The session will draw on recent studies and system reforms, and share insights from a current project by RMIT and Social Ventures Australia, which is examining the impacts of the Bright Spots Connection, a network of 50 Australian schools working in low SES communities.