Whakaaro Whānui - Broad-minded He rangi tā matawhāiti he rangi tā matawhānui
A person with narrow vision has a restricted horizon; A person with wide vision has plentiful opportunities
E te whānau, ngā tumuaki o Aotearoa, tēnā koutou katoa
Now that I am back from Scotland, I can give you a brief summary of my attendance at the International Summit on The Teaching Profession, as I promised to do.
Some twenty countries participated in this international forum. With few exceptions, they were all represented by their country's Minister of Education or equivalent, education union leaders and other sector representatives. I was in attendance at the invitation of the Minister of Education alongside the NZEI and the PPTA unions' presidents and representatives from the Education Council.
The Summit is held annually. When the formal sessions conclude, the Minister and the country's delegation members agree on one or more goals to achieve in the course of the following year. At the start of the Summit the Minister reports on progress towards the goal(s) set at the previous Summit. This reporting is done over the course of several plenary sessions and union representatives are also invited to speak on hot topics of interest to them.
Our Minister spoke enthusiastically of the Communities of Learning (CoLs) and Collaboration and the progress being made in this area. She also talked about the progress New Zealand has made in lifting the number of students achieving at NCEA level two since the last Summit.
When the formal sessions were over we worked with the Minister to draft 'country' goals for next year. I am pleased that our delegation favoured a focus on principal and teacher well-being, because that also links to the well-being of our young people and impacts on their achievement. The Minister has indicated that we will finalise our goals at a Summit debrief meeting shortly.
We know that the Minister recognises the importance of teacher well-being because when interviewed by media at the Summit she said:
'...We are very much having to protect the well-being of our teachers because when they are well and resilient they are capable of delivering great learning experiences for our young people.'
I will be supporting a focus on professional well-being which I know is of widespread interest to you all.
This will be the last Principal Matters of the term because next week I am in Singapore attending the INTASE Conference where I look forward to hearing Sir Ken Robertson speak on his latest research in creative and innovative teaching and practice. Sir Ken is not the only attraction at the conference. There are a number of high profile leadership professionals who will also provide challenging ideas.
Whilst in Singapore, I want to find out more about the Singaporean Government's future direction for education. Along with several other Asian countries, Singapore has been scoring in the top ten countries of the world on international league tables for many years. High academic achievement has been a major focus for students, their families and the Government.
Dr Lim Lai Cheng of Singapore Management University, now tells us Singapore's Government policies are moving away from this 'unhealthy obsession' with grades and they want more emphasis on 'the importance of values'. Schools are being encouraged to scrap standardised examinations and to focus on developing the whole child. Several schools now have approaches centred on positive education, well-being and creating school cultures that support caring and trusting relationships. I will be asking principals in Singapore about this new approach and why they are turning away from the heavy focus on academic achievement. Hopefully I will have more insights to share with you after Easter and the holidays.