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Personal profile


Dr Amanda Heffernan is a Senior Lecturer in Leadership in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. 

Her research focuses on the contemporary challenges of principals’ work, and what that means for how we can better attract, support, and keep school leaders within the profession.

She has a particular interest in leadership in complex school settings, including those in rural and remote areas, and the skills and knowledges that are needed to successfully lead those schools.

Amanda is a former public-school principal who now works with future and current leaders, policymakers, and international researchers to highlight the important and complex work of educational leadership today. 

In 2019, Amanda was awarded the Hedley Beare Award for Educational Writing for her book The Principal and School Improvement: Theorising Discourse, Policy, and Practice. 

Amanda’s PhD thesis, awarded by the University of Queensland in 2017, explored the evolution of the principalship during a period of rapid school reforms. It won the ‘Research in Educational Leadership and Management Award’ for exceptional academic achievement in advanced studies in educational leadership, as selected by the Australian Council for Educational Leaders.

In 2016, Amanda was named a ‘New Voice Scholar’ in the area of Educational Leadership Research by the Australian Council of Educational Leaders. She was one of the 2015 recipients of the Australian Association for Research in Education’s Postgraduate Student Researcher Award for her paper exploring the way principals’ practices have changed since the 2008 introduction of NAPLAN testing. This paper was later named a finalist for Springer’s Best Paper award for the Australian Educational Researcher. 

In 2018, Amanda was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research at the Institute of Education, University College London. She also published her first sole-authored book, The Principal and School Improvement: Theorising Discourse, Policy and Practice


Amanda is serving as the Conference Co-Chair for the Australian Association for Research in Education for the years 2019-2021. 



Research area keywords

  • Leadership
  • policy analysis and effects on systems, staff and students
  • school reform
  • School improvement and accountability
  • Educational Leadership Studies
  • policy enactment
  • school principals
  • educational leadership
  • Rural Education
  • School leadership
  • Reimagining educational leadership


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