So after several years working for the Ministry of Education in New Zealand, the Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement, Lisa Rodgers, cast her sights across the Tasman.
And when she got wind that AITSL was looking for a new CEO, Rodgers jumped at the chance to work for an organisation she says is “synonymous with quality”.
Taking up the post in October 2016, she has spent the past few months settling into her new role and country.
“The issues in education are very similar,” she says.
“[But] the politics is bigger. So of course it’s a federation, and so it’s far more complex...”
But certainly nothing that Rodgers – with a background in strategic policy, research and insights analysis with the Ministry of Justice, the University of Wales and the British Army – can’t handle.
“I’ve been a public servant for over 20 years, I understand the machinery of government,” she says.
“I’ve spent 15 years in education. I do understand how to manage a complicated political environment and how to provide the opportunities and the ideas for things to progress.
“It’s about building those relationships, but being really clear about where you’re going, and how to possibly land it.
“So, lots of people have great ideas, and vision, but that’s only going to get you so far. What you need to be able to do, is you need to be able to implement them.”
Something that immediately struck Rodgers, upon taking up the post, is the building blocks our education system already has in place.
“The thing that I found, which struck me, was in terms of where Australia sits in education.”
“We’ve got an incredibly strong foundation to take the next steps in terms of teaching and school leadership,” Rodgers says, referring to the professional standards for teachers and principals, AITSL’s strong focus on initial teacher education, and the recognition of highly accomplished and lead teachers.
“Now, those fundamental planks, if you like, are already in place in Australia and we’re well placed to take them forward, and I suppose that’s what attracts me the most,” she says.
Rodgers has a number of goals she hopes to achieve this year.
“So first and foremost, of course, would be boosting the status of the profession, so it’s really important that we esteem the profession and we recognise teachers and principals for the jobs that they do,” she says.
“We need to encourage people to come into the profession, we want the best students in the profession, and I’m not necessarily thinking about an ATAR score, it’s about well-rounded kids that aspire to be great teachers and leaders.”
Secondly, Rodgers says she’s particularly interested in helping teachers and school leadership teams understand their impact.
“So, teachers cause learning to happen, but at the moment it’s really hard for parents and learners and teachers to understand, with precision and discernibly, where they are, what they’ve learned and where they need to go next.
“So I’m really interested in the notion of impact.”
With pockets of excellence in Australian schools, Rodgers champions the idea of professional collaboration.
“I’m not a big believer in programs, the thing that makes the biggest difference in teacher professional development is teachers collaborating on the challenges they’ve got in front of them, and that’s the kids that they’re teaching every day, and the curriculum challenge that they face,” she says.
As for her long-term goals, Rodgers says it’s all about making a difference for kids.
“If we could have an impact, in terms of teaching excellence, on the outcome for kids, we could even begin to have some role in the space of turning the curve, then that would be my number one goal,” she says.
“Now, that’s an aspirational goal, but that’s where I’d start.”