Lisa Rodgers is a powerful voice and respected advocate in education. She is an experienced executive, having provided exemplary service for the profession, governments and the public in various jurisdictions including the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

Prior to joining the Department of Education, Lisa was CEO of AITSL as well as Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement and Deputy Secretary, Evidence, Data and Knowledge in the Ministry of Education in New Zealand. With over 16 years' experience in Education, Lisa has led significant reforms in assessment innovation, curriculum, and the use of evidence for impact at the classroom and national level. Lisa has an Honours Degree in Psychology and has held several other substantial posts in Justice, Health and Defence. She is passionate about the profession and is dedicated to improved educational outcomes for young people.

Dispatches from a Unicorn: The Western Australian Experience

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures affected some 1.7 billion students globally. Students in WA were not among them. Elsewhere in Australia, as state-run schools closed for face-to-face learning across the nation, WA remained a conspicuous outlier. Eventually, we did encourage our parents to keep their children home and we closed our schools … but only for four days.

Suffice it to say, our experience of educational leadership during this pandemic has been unique. Exactly why and how we emerged as a unicorn - and what unexpected lessons we’ve taken away from the experience - is the story Lisa wants to tell you.

Our geography is a big part of that story. (The vastness and isolation of our state is legendary. It means we pretty much wrote the book on “distance education.”) Lisa likes to think it’s given us a unique perspective on the meaning of “place” in education. Is school a “place” - a proper noun? Or is it a verb - a doing word, a process?

Lisa will be taking you on a bit of a road trip today, an exploration of the singular terrain - both literal and figurative - that has shaped the Western Australian experience. But she will be mindful, too, of the universal challenges that we’ve all shared in navigating the uncharted depths of this pandemic. Let’s not forget that a unicorn is a mythical creature - a reminder that uniqueness is not, after all, unusual.