Advisory Council

Advisory Council

The Advisory Council brings national and international expertise and cross-sectoral perspective to our work. They provide independent advice and approve major strategic projects and evaluations, ensuring the integrity and relevance of our work to stakeholders in Government, schools and the wider community.

The Advisory Council reviews and endorses our current priority work (PDF, 170kB). This is updated when major projects are completed or added. The criteria for accepting work is set out in the Advisory Council charter (PDF, 420kB)


Member biographies

Dr John Ainley (Chair)

Principal  Research Fellow, and former Deputy CEO (Research),  Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)


During his career at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), John was responsible for its national and International surveys research program and directed a number of policy-oriented research and evaluation studies for national and state education authorities. He continues to contribute to international comparative studies of teacher characteristics and teaching practices, computer literacy, and civics and citizenship.

Dr Ainley was a member of the Consortium Advisory Group for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children from its beginning in 2003 until 2016. He is a member of the Publication and Editorial Committee of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

He has been a visiting scholar at the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research in San Francisco and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Professor Linda Harrison

Professor, Professorial Research Fellow, Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University


Linda Harrison is Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University. 

Professor Harrison played key roles in the design of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children for the Australian Government Department of Social Services; the development and national trial of The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia for the Department of Education and the Council of Australian Governments; and the Excellence in Research in Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network, linking Charles Sturt University, Queensland University of Technology, and Monash University.

Professor Harrison holds qualifications in science and education from Canada and Australia, and a PhD in developmental psychology from Macquarie University.

Professor Alan Hayes AM

Distinguished Professor of Family Studies and Director – Family Action Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle


Alan Hayes AM is the Inaugural Distinguished Professor of Family Studies and Director of the Family Action Centre, within the Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Alan has longstanding interests in addressing disadvantage and facilitating social mobility, health and wellbeing. Particularly his research addresses prevention, early intervention and the role of educational opportunity. His current work explores better targeting of investments in community support for families with complex needs, especially through community-focused collective impact approaches. Professor Hayes was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2012 Honours List. From 2004-15 he was Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Dr Ben Jensen

Chief Executive Officer, Learning First


Ben is the founding Chief Executive Officer of Learning First, a social enterprise working to reform school education. He has considerable experience in education reform, advising governments in numerous countries.

Ben recently left the Grattan Institute where he was Director of the School Education Program for five years. His reports had a significant impact in Australia and internationally. Prior to this he was at the OECD Directorate for Education conducting international research on education policy and school and teacher effectiveness. Ben has also held positions in government and academia.

He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Melbourne.

Leslie Loble

Deputy Secretary, External Affairs and Regulation, NSW Department of Education


Leslie Loble is Deputy Secretary in the NSW Department of Education and leads crosssectoral, state-wide and national developments in education, spanning early childhood education, schooling and higher education. She shapes State policy and leads negotiations with the Commonwealth over education policy and funding, including agreements worth more than $10 billion over four years to New South Wales. She led the NSW development of the Gonski school funding reforms and new State funding arrangements for early childhood education. She is a member of major education boards and committees and chairs the national Schools Policy Group on behalf of Australian Education Ministers and CEOs.

Her leadership in public policy was recognised when she was named one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence in 2013 (Australian Financial Review-Westpac Award).

Prior to joining the department Executive, Ms Loble was appointed by President Bill Clinton to several key roles including as Chief of Staff to Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich and to senior executive positions in the U.S. Department of Labor. Ms Loble has a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.

Dr Lisa O’Brien

Chief Executive Officer, The Smith Family


Dr Lisa O’Brien joined The Smith Family as CEO in February 2011. She has over 20 years’ experience in a diverse range of leadership roles in the health care, community services, bio-medical and information technology sectors.

Dr O’Brien is a Medical Practitioner registered in NSW, a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators and she holds a Master of Business Administration and a Masters of Human Resource Management and Coaching. Prior to joining The Smith Family Lisa was the CEO of the Skin and Cancer Foundation Australia.

Dr O’Brien is also a director of the Community Council for Australia and Bupa Australia & New Zealand, and is a member of Chief Executive Women.

Professor Andreas Schleicher (France)

Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, OECD


Andreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

As a key member of the OECD Senior Management team, Mr. Schleicher supports the Secretary-General’s strategy to produce analysis and policy advice that advances economic growth and social progress. He promotes the work of the Directorate for Education and Skills on a global stage and fosters co-operation both within and outside the OECD. In addition to policy and country reviews, the work of the Directorate includes the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), and the development and analysis of benchmarks on the performance of education systems (INES).

Before joining the OECD, Mr. Schleicher was Director for Analysis at the International Association for Educational Achievement (IEA). He studied Physics in Germany and received a degree in Mathematics and Statistics in Australia. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the “Theodor Heuss” prize, awarded in the name of the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany for “exemplary democratic engagement”. He holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Heidelberg.

Dr Hans Wagemaker (New Zealand)

Independent Consultant, and former Executive Director of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)


Hans Wagemaker is currently an independent consultant, following his retirement as the Executive Director of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) for 17 years.

IEA created and implements two of the world’s largest educational assessments – the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), as well as other large-scale assessments. Hans was responsible for planning and development of all IEA studies, monitoring their progress and raising funds for the organization. He was one of three co-founders of the IEA literacy study.

Prior to joining the IEA, Hans worked as Manager of the Research and International Division of the New Zealand Ministry of Education. He has consulted for UNESCO and the InterAmerican Development Bank and served on scientific advisory committees for the World Bank. He holds a PhD from the University of Illinois and specializes in large scale assessment studies, policy studies and research methods. He was awarded the University of Illinois, College of Education Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009.