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Non-teacher new head at WA Education Department

The new head of WA’s Education Department has never worked as a teacher — but she has spent the past 20 years in education.

Newly appointed education director-general Lisa Rodgers has been chief executive of the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership for the past two years.

Before that, she was a deputy chief in the New Zealand Ministry of Education with responsibility for curriculum and assessment.

Born in Britain, Ms Rodgers, 47, said her public service career started with a five-year stint in the British Army, where she served in the intelligence corps and provided advice to ministers regarding terrorism.

Ms Rodgers said she was honoured to have the chance to lead public schooling in WA.

She did not think the fact she had never worked as a teacher would count against her with rank-and-file educators.

“It hasn’t done in the past,” she said. “I think in part that’s because I don’t assume that I know.

“I will work very closely with teachers and school leaders to make sure that I’ve got their context on what’s going on in the classroom. It’s essential to do that.”

After leaving the army, Ms Rodger completed a first-class honours degree in psychology, specialising in child mental health.

“It is very different (to teaching), but there are a lot of parallels,” she said. “My primary focus all the time I’ve been in education is to ensure that we get the best outcomes for students, and that’s my bottom line.”

Ms Rodgers is taking over from Sharyn O’Neill, who is now WA’s Public Sector Commissioner after 12 years as director-general.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said Ms Rodgers was well-placed to lead the department.

“I’d like to celebrate the appointment of another woman in a senior public service position, and I look forward to working with Ms Rodgers,” she said.

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