Robyn Baker’s career has been in the field of education where she has contributed as a teacher, researcher, curriculum developer, teacher educator and leader. She was the Director and CEO of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research from 2000 to 2014. As a science educator Robyn has been involved in many national developments, including science curriculum and environmental education initiatives. She was a member of the Royal Society Council 1997-2002 and more recently chaired its Education Committee.
Robyn led the management of the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (2003-2014). Currently, she chairs the selection and monitoring panels for the Teacher-led Innovation Fund. This fund is one aspect of the government’s Investing in Educational Success policy and provides funds for teachers to investigate new and innovative practices that have the potential to improve student learning.
Robyn has considerable experience of governance, as a senior manager working to a board and as a governor. Currently she is the Deputy Chair of the Board of the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), a global research organisation with significant operations in a number of countries, including India, South America and Africa.
Robyn is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education (2015) and in 2002 was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand Silver Science and Technology medal.
What attracted you to the Chair role?
The possibility of working with an expert collective – the Commissioners and the Secretariat – to make a small, but deliberate contribution to shaping the future we want for the upcoming generations attracted me to the role. The issues we face nationally and globally are complex and I think solutions require people with a diversity of expertise working together in systematic and sustained ways. It also requires a focus on areas that matter and thinking about the opportunities offered in the intersection between these key areas. I believe that the five areas of focus for the National Commission – education, communication and information, social and human sciences, natural sciences, and culture – all have a critical contribution to make as we shape the future we want and need.
In all, the National Commission focuses on areas that I think are important. It offers both diversity and expertise along with rich networks. I was keen to be part of this.
What do you hope to bring to the role?
I hope to be able to realise the goals of UNESCO in the New Zealand context through taking a focussed and strategic approach. An approach that builds on the work of the past, draws on the collective strengths of the commission and key stakeholders, and that identifies the activities where we can get the greatest leverage. There are a lot of agencies and individuals doing work in areas relevant to the goals of UNESCO. I am keen to ensure that we put our energy and focus into work where we can make the biggest difference.
What are the key issues related to UNESCO’s mission that you would most like to see addressed in New Zealand and around the world?
The key issues to be addressed will be the decision of the collective; where we think we can make the most useful contribution at this moment in time as we anticipate the future needs of people and the planet. I look forward to identifying and exploring these issues during my term as Chair.