My Expertise

Professor Eacott leads an interdisciplinary research program concerned with the central question of How do we organise education to get the outcomes we desire? Work within this program seeks to develop tools for educators, systems, providers, and individual organisations to better understand the provision of education. You can read more about this School of Education Flagship research program here.


Fields of Research (FoR)

Specialist studies in education, Educational administration, management and leadership, Education systems

SEO tags


An enduring issue for governments and systems has been how best to organise education to ensure equitable and inclusive education for all. Professor Eacott's research program has been dedicated to developing the necessary explanatory resources (e.g., relational theory) to respond effectively to the empirical question of how best to organise education. A key contribution has been the development of the Relational Inquiry into the Provision of...view more

An enduring issue for governments and systems has been how best to organise education to ensure equitable and inclusive education for all. Professor Eacott's research program has been dedicated to developing the necessary explanatory resources (e.g., relational theory) to respond effectively to the empirical question of how best to organise education. A key contribution has been the development of the Relational Inquiry into the Provision of Education (RIPE) analytical framework. This relatively new theoretical approach for organizational theory in education offers a methodological framework for the study of the provision of education at multiple levels.

Building from his relational approach, RIPE analysis comprise five phases:

  • Articulating the underlying generative assumptions on the purpose(s) of education (or a given topic);
  • Locating assumptions within different perspectives on the topic;
  • Investigating how those assumptions play out in practice;
  • Describing and explaining activities without imposing judgement; and
  • Using all of the above to show how things are and could be different.

Working at the intersection of education, sociology, demography, economics, planning, among others, and therefore leveraging cutting-edge analytical methods from multiple disciplines all held together through relational theory, Professor Eacott's ambitious research program aims to move beyond individual disciplinary based ways of understanding education and its impact to not just inform policy decisions but explicitly contribute to re-designing the provision of education to deliver equitable and inclusive education at scale.

Professor Eacott's distinctive relational approach has led to invitations to run workshops and give talks in Norway, Canada, the USA, Indonesia, South Africa, Mexico and throughout Australia. He has authored more than 100 publications, led major research projects and contributed to teams winning over $3.8M in external funding and successfully translated his research into policy and practice. Typical projects employing his RIPE analysis involve working collaboratively with systems, school leadership teams, and school communities to co-design plans to best meet the needs of all involved.

My Grants

A representative sample of externally funded grants since 2015 includes:

  • Eacott, S. & Baldry, E. (2022). Building education systems for equity, excellence, and inclusion. Academy of Social Sciences Australia Workshop Program.
  • Eacott, S. (2021). Steiner Education Australia Leadership (SEAL) project. Steiner Education Australia.
  • Beswick, K., Piccoli, A., Roberts, P., Holden, R., Eacott, S., Loughland, T., & Alonzo, D. (2020-2021). Rural and Remote Education (RaRE) project. New South Wales Department of Education.
  • Keddie, A., Blackmore, J., Wilkinson, J., Gobby, B., Niesche, R., & Eacott, S. (2019-2021). School autonomy reform and social justice in Australian public education. Australian Research Council Discovery Project [DP190100190],
  • Eacott, S., Niesche, R., Loughland, T., Durksen, T., Heffernan, A., & Gobby, B. (2019-2020). School leadership and teaching incentives and impact. Australian Department of Education and Training.
  • Wainer, C. & Eacott, S. (2019). Regional secondary school consolidation: experiments in leadership. New South Wales Institute for Educational Research Grant.
  • Eacott, S., & Davison, C. (2018-2021). Griffith secondary school reform. New South Wales Department of Education.
  • Eacott, S., Davison, C., & Morsy, L. (2017-2018). Secondary school reform: a scoping study. New South Wales Department of Education.
  • Eacott, S. (2016-2017). School-university partnerships. External Industry Partners.
  • Gallagher, R. & Eacott, S. (2015). Relations, organizing and leadership in education. New South Wales Institute of Educational Research.

My Qualifications

Doctor of Philosophy (Education). Supervisor: A/Prof James G. Ladwig

Master of Leadership and Management in Education

GradCert in the Practice of Tertiary Teaching

Bachelor of Teaching / Bachelor of Social Science

My Awards

  • Neil Cranston Lecture, Australian Association for Education Research - Educational Leadership Special Interest Group, 2021
  • Education Research Award, Australian Council for Educational Leaders (NSW), 2021
  • Most outstanding reviewer, International Journal of Educational Management, 2020
  • The Educator's Hotlist, 2019
  • Australia's leading researcher in the field of Educational Administration (The Australian Research Magazine), 2018
  • Visiting Scholar, University of Saskatchewan (Canada), 2018
  • Visiting Scholar, Western University (Canada), 2018
  • Hedley Beare Award - Most Outstanding Educational Leadership Writing (Australian Council for Educational Leaders), 2015
  • Emerald Literati Outstanding Paper of the Year (2013, International Journal of Educational Management), 2014
  • Book Editor of the Year, Untested Ideas Center (Niagara Falls, NY), 2013
  • Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (NSW), 2012
  • Emerald / ALCS African Management Research Award, 2012
  • Highly Commended, Emerald Literati Outstanding papers of the Year (2011, International Journal of Educational Management), 2012
  • Emerging Research Leaders Program, 2011-2012
  • Australian Leadership Award (AusAID), 2010
  • Highly Commended, Emerald / EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award, Educational Leadership and Strategy (Sponsor Journal of Educational Administration), 2009
  • Runner-up, 7th Annual Emerging Scholar in Educational Leadership Award, 2009
  • The University of Newcastle Teaching and Learning Fellowship, 2007-2008

My Research Supervision

Supervision keywords

Areas of supervision

Professor Eacott is constantly seeking outstanding researchers to undertake doctoral (PhD, EdD), research masters and/or honours projects that advance his research program on the provision of education through rigorous and robust social science. Additionally, he welcomes proposals from highly motivated and talented researchers who believe they have the potential to contribute to make a significant contribution to advancing scholarship through post-docs, research assistants, visiting scholars, and collaborations. If you are interested in working with Professor Eacott please send an email to discuss possibilities.

Professor Eacott's research program is concerned with the central question of How do we organise education to get the outcomes we desire? Within this agenda, he is currently looking for higher degree researchers (PhD, Honours) to work on multiple projects:

Project 1: Snapshots of provision
Where you live or what your parents do should not be determinants of educational outcomes. This work focuses on linking education data (e.g., school profiles) and social / community data (e.g., ABS census data) to study the provision of education over time. Of particular interest is the differentiation of provision and variance of outcomes within and across communities. This work is fundamental for informing policy making and reforms targeting factors outside the school gates and influential for schools and system looking to establish new schools or campuses. Sample publications from this project include papers on small schools, special schools, and reports on Steiner and Montessori schools.  

Project 2: Building alternative indicators for schooling
Schools frequently claim to deliver non-academic outcomes. What is less common are evidence-based claims to support whether they actually deliver these non-academic outcomes. This project is focused on working with schools (educators, boards, students, parents/community members) to develop alternative indicators for schooling and curating the data necessary to evidence those. This work is fundamental in assisting schools to make evidence informed claimed regarding their offerings and distinctions from alternatives. A sample presentation from this project can be found here.

Project 3: Social returns of education
Conventional approaches to identifying the returns on investment in education link qualifications with later income (and taxation) through human capital theory. Alternative indicators for schooling potential call for new ways of understanding the social returns of education. This exploratory work is seeking to develop new ways of justifying investment in alternatives forms of education - particularly those attracting significant public money. This work is crucial to understanding the impact of decisions regarding the provision of education and its immediate and long-term impacts for equity and inclusion.

Project 4: Empirical model of school system design
Schools are charged with serving as catalyst for more equitable and inclusive societies. As such, many reforms target improving schools (or even educators) in order to improve outcomes. However, no school is an island. The full social and economic potential of schooling cannot be harnessed through a focus on the school or educators. This project concerns the development of systemic design principles as a genesis for assessing the relevant costs and benefits of initiatives for government and system designers. This work is crucial for the provision of a more principled, and data-driven, way of prioritising the competing demands on public investment in education. An initial presentation from this project can be found here.


Working at the intersection of education, sociology, geography, demography, economics of education, with existing datasets and newly generated data, this research program is of enormous benefit to providers in planning, supporting and promotion of schools. Current and expected outcomes include establishing novel theoretical frameworks for the design of education systems that can withstand internal tensions for differentiation and external pressure towards standardisation; state-of-the-art models of the provision of schooling integrating contemporary and historical data from diverse disciplines to support the functionality of schools; and the generation of a robust body of evidence to inform policy decisions at a national level. 

If interested in either of the above projects, and eligible, consider applying for a Scholarship. The next round closes on 27 January 2023 for a T3 2023 start. Details for scholarships can be found: Key Dates | UNSW Research. The ideal candidate will have: i) A 1st class Honours degree, or equivalent, in education, sociology, history, community development, public administration, politics, public policy, cultural studies or related fields; ii) Previous experience with either empirical research (e.g., GIS analysis, data mining of ABS and/or education statistics, qualitative skills in interviews or focus groups) and/or the application of social critical theoretical frameworks to social problems; iii) Excellent time, data management, and interpersonal skills; and iv) Evidence of well-developed verbal and written communication skills. If you have any queries about the positions, please contact Professor Scott Eacott.

Currently supervising

Current supervised topics include:

- Regional secondary school reform;

- Middle leaders in regional and rural schools;

- School reform in urban alternative schools; and

- Alternative providers of schooling and context.

My Engagement


  • Educational Management, Administration & Leadership (2017-)
  • Educational Leadership Theory book series (Springer, Founding Co-Editor, 2017-)
  • Relational Sociology book series (Palgrave, 2015-)
  • Journal of Applied Social Theory (2015-)
  • Research in Educational Administration and Leadership (Section, Australia/Pacific Editor, 2015-)
  • International Journal of Educational Management (2013-)
  • Leading & Managing (2013-)
  • Journal of Educational Administration and History (2013-, including Book Review Editor 2013-2017)
  • International Journal of Leadership in Education (2013-)
  • Leadership and Policy Quarterly (2012-)
  • Perspectives in Educational Leadership (2011-2014)
  • Journal of Educational Administration and Policy Studies (2009-2015) 


  • American Educational Research Association 2010-
  • British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society 2010-2015
  • Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management 2010-2015
  • Australian Association for Educational Research 2008-
  • Australian Council for Educational Leaders 2003-2016

My Teaching

Using a variety of approaches in his teaching, Professor Eacott's classes are distinctive for their privileging of rigorous and robust discussion and debate of key issues. Unlike traditional lecture or tutorial models, Professor Eacott explicitly engages with participants by challenging their ways of thinking and seeking to develop a commitment to public intellectualism. Following Michael Oakeshott, his central belief is that to be educated is to join the conversation of the world. This belief shapes how Professor Eacott sees the role of the course convenor, students, curriculum and assessment. In short, he expects students to actively participate in conversations about the content, assumptions, and implications of field shaping ideas for the purpose of organising education to deliver on desired outcomes.

Professor Eacott has been a Teaching and Learning Fellow (University of Newcastle), secured AusAID funding to bring 20 Filipino leaders to Australia for an intensive educational leadership program, and received internal funding (at three universities) for teaching and learning projects relating to online delivery of educational leadership courses. 

Current courses taught in the Master of Educational Leadership include:

He has previously offered a term-long course on his relational approach entitled:

  • Relational inquiry in the social sciences

Professor Education also offers an online short course (5 weeks) on:

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