Marguerite Maher

Professor Marguerite Maher

Professor and Dean of Education

Phone: (02) 8204 4200

Margie Maher has been a teacher educator in universities, a teacher in secondary and primary schools, and she has experience in early childhood settings in three countries: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

After her initial teacher education, her first post graduate qualification focussed on children with specific learning difficulties. Her Master's research was undertaken with Maori and Pasifika children and their families developing culturally appropriate and engaging ways of enhancing the numeracy learning of these children, and her PhD examined inclusive education theory to practice.

Margie came to the University of Notre Dame Australia from Charles Darwin University where, in partnership with the Catholic Education Office of the Northern Territory (NT), she led the implementation of in situ teacher education for Indigenous Assistant Teachers in six remote Catholic schools. From 2011 to 2014 she was involved in a project funded by the Australian Office of Learning and Teaching which identified aspects that enhance the transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into higher education. In 2015 she is completing an evaluative study of an initiative known as Khanyisa (Lighting up Learning) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Teaching Areas
Early Mathematics
Inclusive Education
Cross-cultural Education
Research Expertise and Supervision
Research interests are in inclusive education, early childhood education, education at the cultural interface. Currently, Margie is supervising 14 higher degree by research students completing Master of Philosophy in Education, Doctor of Education or Doctor of Philosophy in Education degrees. Topics are wide-ranging from play-based learning in primary schools, transitioning of children into formal schooling to evaluation of the new Australian curriculum using grounded theory to teachers capacity to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in their classrooms.


Research and Engagement

Maher, M. (2014). Report on the Khanyisa Programme. Commissioned Report

Ewing, R. & Maher, M. (2014). Phonics: its place in the literacy story. Australian Literacy Educators' Association: ALEA 'Hot Topic', October 2014. Retrieved from

Watson, K., Handal, B., Waters, E., & Maher, M. (2013). The influence of class size upon NAPLAN performance: a study of Catholic schools in the Sydney Archdiocese. Commissioned Report.

Handal, B., Maher, M., & Watson, K. (2011). An analysis of class size relative to education outcomes in Catholic primary schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney: Literature review. Commissioned Report.
Journal Articles and Proceedings
Maher, M., & Bellen, L. (2015). Smoothing children's transition into formal schooling: Lessons learned from an early literacy initiative in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, Australia. Early Childhood Education Journal, 43(1), 9-17.

Maher, M. & Buxton, L. (2015 in press). Early childhood education at the cultural interface. Australian Journal of Indigenous Studies.

Maher, M. (2015 in press). Self-efficacy enhanced in a cross-cultural context through an initiative in under-resourced schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Intercultural Studies.

Maher, M. & Seach, J. (in review). Empowering teachers and learners: Strategies to maximise curriculum potential an counter disadvantage. Curriculum Perspectives.

Maher, M., & Smith, S. (2014). Asylum-seeker and refugee children belonging, being and becoming: The early childhood educator's role. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 39(1), 22-29.

Handal, B., Novak, A., Watson, K., Maher, M., MacNish, J., & Eddles-Hirsch, K. (2014). Numeracy education through mobile apps. Australian Journal of Middle Schooling, 1(14), 28-37.

Handal, B., Maher, M., & Watson, K. (2014). From large to small classes: A classroom window. Australasian Canadian Studies, 31(1-2), 53-72.

Handal, B. Watson, K., Petocz, P., & Maher, M. (2014 in review). Why mathematics and science teachers choose to take up teaching in rural and remote schools. Education Research and Perspectives.

Maher, M. (2013). Making inclusive education happen: The impact of Initial Teacher Education in remote Aboriginal communities. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(8), 839-853. doi:10.1080/13603116.2011.602532.

Maher, M. (2013). Early childhood project analysed within a model enhancing the self-efficacy of Indigenous people. International Journal of Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood, 11(1), 17-33.

Maher, M., & Macallister, H. (2013). Retention and attrition of students in higher education: Challenges in modern times to what works. Higher Education Studies, 3(2), 62-73.

Watson, K., Handal, B., Maher, M., & McGinty, E. (2013). Globalizing the class size debate: Myths and realities. Journal of International and Comparative Education, 2 (2), 72-85.

Handal, B., Watson, K., Petocz, P. & Maher, M. (2013). NSW Maths and Science Teachers' Choice to Rural and/or Remote Teaching Destinations. Report prepared for the NSW Department of Education and Communities. Sydney: The University of Notre Dame Australia.

Watson, K., Handal, B., Waters, E., & Maher, M. (2013). The influence of class size upon NAPLAN performance: a study of Catholic schools in the Sydney Archdiocese. Report prepared for the Catholic Education Office, Sydney. The University of Notre Dame Australia.

Handal, B., Watson, K., Petocz, P. & Maher, M. (2013). Retaining Mathematics and Science teachers in rural and remote schools. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 23(3), 13-28.

Maher, M. (2012). Teacher education with Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing as a key pillar. AlterNative: an international journal of Indigenous scholarship, 8(3), 343-356.

Maher, M. (2010). Indigenous teacher education initiative: Shared conceptualisation leading to social justice and social capital in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5(1), 357-366.

Maher, M. (2010). Culturally responsive evaluation enhancing outcomes for Indigenous children. Studies in Learning Evaluation Innovation and Development, 7(2), 42-54.

Maher, M. (2009). Information and advocacy: Forgotten components in the strategies for achieving inclusive education in South Africa? Africa Education Review, 6(1), 16-31.

Maher, M. (2009). Culturally appealing mathematics materials. Every Child,15(1), 26-27.

Maher, M. & Gerbic, P. (2009). E-portfolios as a pedagogical device in primary teacher education: The AUT University experience. Australian Journal of Teacher Education,34(5), 43-53.

Gerbic, P. & Maher, M. (2008). Collaborative self-study supporting new technology: The Mahara e-portfolio project. In Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology? Proceedings ASCILITE Melbourne 2008. Maher, M. (2007). Does the numeracy project obviate the need for mathematics intervention? New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 42(1&2), 31-46.

Maher, M. (2007). Out of "dark backrooms and sheds" and into a "caring society": A model to enhance the self-efficacy of learners with special needs in South Africa. The Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 2(2), available on

Chisnall, N. & Maher, M. (2007). Montessori mathematics in early childhood education. Curriculum Matters, 3, 6-28.

Maher, M. (2007). Home-school partnership within mathematics intervention. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 32(3), 48-58.

Maher, M. (2005). Children catching numeracy concepts and how student teachers can better assist them. In Proceedings of the 1st Africa Regional Congress of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) (pp. 148-158). Johannesburg, South Africa: ICMI.

Maher, M. (2005). South Africa's special schools, regular schools, and satellite units providing services: The quest for inclusive education. In F. Bryer (Ed.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Australian Association of Special Education. Making meaning: Creating connections that value diversity (pp. 179-186). Brisbane: AASE.

Maher, M. (2004). Junior primary mathematics given a helping hand. In A. Buffler & R. Laugskch (Eds.). Proceedings of the 12th annual conference of the South African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (SAARMSTE) Vol 2.
Conference Papers
Maher, M. (2014 September). Identity and self-efficacy explored in five Aboriginal community pre-schools. Early Childhood Australia Conference, Melbourne.

Maher, M. (2012 October). Research: A fascinating journey… to where? Keynote address delivered at the NSW Institute for Educational Research Postgraduate Conference, Sydney.

Maher, M. (2012 July). Tools and support programmes to effectively improve reading, writing and numeracy in schools. Paper presented by invitation at the African Education Week Convention in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 2012.

Maher, M. (2010 July). Empowerment through eSkills: Findings from a project in remote Aboriginal ccommunities transferable to South Africa. Peer reviewed full paper presented at the eSkills Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, July 2010.

Maher, M. (2010 August). Social justice and social capital enhanced in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. Paper presented at the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Conference, Cambridge, UK, August 2010.

Maher, M. (2010 August). From marginalisation to meaningful education for Australian Aboriginal children. Paper presented at the OMEP XXVI World Congress 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Maher, M. (2010 August). Culturally responsive evaluation strategies for Indigenous teacher education students in remote communities of the Northern Territory of Australia. Paper presented at the Australasian Evaluation Society conference, Wellington, New Zealand, August 2010.

Maher, M. (2009 February). E-portfolios enhancing science communication amongst preservice teachers. Peer reviewed paper presented at the Africa Science Communication Conference. Johannesburg South Africa, February 2009.

Maher, M. (2009 Sept). Equity served by the Growing Our Own Indigenous teacher education program: Keeping the plants watered. Paper presented by invitation at The 4th Biennial Equity Conference 2009. Sydney.

Maher, M. (2009 Sept). Innovate, Educate, Celebrate: Five easy steps to enhancing the numeracy development of ALL students. Paper presented by invitation at The 4th Biennial Equity Conference 2009. Sydney.

Maher, M (2009 Sept). Inclusion in their own land: Initial Teacher Education in remote Aboriginal Communities. Peer reviewed paper presented at the Making Inclusive Education Happen Conference. Wellington: New Zealand.

Maher, M. (2009 December) Enhancing preservice teachers' belief in their ability to meet diverse needs of all learners: The impact of Initial Teacher Education in remote Aboriginal Communities. AARE. Canberra, Australia.

Maher, M. (2008 July). When language and culture diverge: Implications for teachers. Paper presented at the New Zealand Association of Language Teachers (NZALT). Wellington: New Zealand.

Maher, M. (2005 April). Dreaded diversity or divine destiny? Workshop presented at the New Zealand Association of Christian Schools (NZACS) Conference, Orewa, New Zealand.

Maher, M. (2005 July). Early numeracy development. Paper presented at the Australasian Human Development Association (AHDA) Conference, Perth, Australia.

Maher, M. (2005 July). Meeting the needs of students with intellectual disabilities in special schools, regular schools, and satellite units in KwaZulu-Natal. Paper presented at the Auckland University of Technology, School of Education Te Kura Matauranga Mini-conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

Maher, M., & Chisnall, N. (2005 December). Early numeracy development: A comparative pilot study. Paper presented at The Learning Profession: New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) National Conference 2005, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Maher, M. (2004 July). Equipping pre-service teachers to cope in the inclusive classroom. Paper presented at Research and Teaching, Teaching and Research: Teacher Education Forum of Aotearoa New Zealand (TEFANZ), Auckland College of Education, Auckland, New Zealand.

Maher, M. (2004 Sept). Evaluating the effectiveness of different educational provisions for students with disabilities. Paper presented at Auckland University of Technology's Arts Faculty Post Graduate Seminar, Auckland, New Zealand.

Maher, M. (2004 April). The confluence of two streams: Montessori and mainstream mathematics. Workshop presented at the Montessori Association of New Zealand (MANZ) Professional Development Weekend, Auckland, New Zealand.
In the Media
Maher, M. Interviewed 21 October 2014 by The Conversation: A teaching degree can't prepare you for absolutely everything.

Ewing, R. & Maher, M. (2014 August 19) NAPLAN not the key to understanding what literacy is. Brisbane Times

Ewing, R. & Maher, M. (2014 August 19). NAPLAN not the key to understanding what literacy is. Sydney Morning Herald.

Molloy, F. from Education Review, (2014 March) reported interview with Maher, M on professional experience in teacher education courses entitled Right Place and Time.
Professional Affiliations
Secretary New South Wales Council of Deans of Education
Vice-Chairperson Reference Committee OLT Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers (ETMST)
Opening Real Science.
CEO Parramatta Systems Learning Committee member
Initial Teacher Education Committee
Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth
CEO Sydney Liaison Committee
CED Advisory Committee on GTIL
Community Engagement
Serve on UNDA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Consultative Group
Regular collaboration with the CEO Sydney and CEO Parramatta
Links with schools where Education students complete Professional Experience
Partnership with AIS in improving the mentoring teacher education students on professional experience
Research partnerships with CEO Sydney and CEO Parramatta
  • $220,000 grant (2013 -2015) OLT: Real Science to improve the ability of graduate teachers to teach science in primary schools. Macquarie University is the lead organisation. Six universities are involved in the project. I am the Vice Chair of the Executive Committee overseeing this research project: Real Science
  • $20,000 grant (2015) AIS: enhancing the mentoring of teacher education students during professional experience
  • $79,000 grant (2012/2014) Chief investigator on Diocese of Parramatta researching current stakeholder views on their curriculum and to provide recommendations into the future.
  • $30,000 grant (2014/2015) Chief investigator on Sydney Catholic Education Office evaluation of the effectiveness of their "Family Liaison" position in enhancing home-school partnerships
  • $220,000 grant (2012-2014) Chief investigator on OLT grant on elements that enhance the transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into higher education.
  • $100,000 grant (2011-2014) Chief investigator on Catholic Education Office, Sydney project researching class size and its effects on student outcomes.
  • $1.2million grant (2010-2011) Led the Remote Indigenous Teacher Education project in partnership with the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training.
  • $1.8 million grant (2008-2011) The School of Education at CDU, together with the Northern Territory Catholic Education Office, won this grant to provide teacher education in situ to assistant teachers in remote Indigenous communities. I led the CDU component of this initiative.
  • 2009 – 2010 Participant in a $ 500,000 project to enhance the teaching of literacy and numeracy in early childhood in NT Catholic Schools
  • $320,000 grant from DEEWR to facilitate the new Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) nationally becoming accessible to remote Indigenous educators
  • Currently, Margie is also supporting research and projects with people in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with whom I have worked since 2005