L@S – message from the minister

A highlight for me at Learning@School conference was the opening address by the newly appointed Minister of Education, Hekia Parata.

I have to confess to being a little anxious prior to her speech. Choosing to open a conference with a speech from a politician is a risky decision as it can be easy for the occasion to be used for political grand-standing that can negatively impact the tone of the rest of the conference.
in the end my concerns were unfounded – Minister Parata's address was superbly presented, with no rostrum to separate her from the audience and no notes from which to read a 'party line', she began by acknowledging and thanking the 1400 delegates for being present in what many would consider their holidays. She spoke with passion, determination and a commitment to supporting the profession, laying out her focus on (a) placing the learner at the centre of all we do, (b) a commitment to quality teaching, (c) raising student achievement, and (d) enabling all of this to happen through the use of ICT. 
I took away a sense of stong commitment on her part as Minister, with the clear expectation that this be met by a similar level of commitment on our part, the educators present. 
Thanks to the team at EdTalks for capturing her address and making it available. 

3 thoughts on “L@S – message from the minister

  1. Yes, very impressive speaker and obviously far more articulate than her predeccesor.  Unfortunately, it seems to be the same reactionary message tied up in a more accessible package.  Legaue tables, hyper-accountability, standardisation, privitisation.  She talks a lot about the learner in this video, but I don't see that backed up by action so far.  The government clearly has an ideologically driven agenda, and has little thought for the good of individual learners.  Pretty rhetoric is meaningless in the end.  A great PR exercise, but we will see how the reality pans out.

    1. Easy to be cynical, Darren – perhaps a sad indication of how ‘beaten’ parts of the sector feel. As this was the minister’s first speech to an assembled group of educators in NZ I think I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt at this stage, and wait until she’s had more than a month in the role (and a month where the public service have been on holiday at that) before making a judgement about whether things have changed, particularly with respect to whether the learner has become more of a focus or not.

    I certainly don't feel 'beaten'.  I have a six year old who has to go through a primary school system under pressure to 'perform' to a narrow view of what learning means.  Literacy and numeracy dominate the landscape to such an extent that is becoming damaging.  I will be fighting all the way and I get the feeling the large parts of the sector will as well.  it will be an interesting three years.

    Surely you don't think that things are suddenly going to change just because we have a more articulate Minister.  I base my judgements on what I see in front of me and the message hasn't changed despite a change in Minister.  Today I read the Minister's views on League tables and how necessary they are to better inform parents.  Interesting how the government for so long said they didn''t want league tables, but that they couldn't stop them.  Now they seem to be embracing them.  This along with other media statements on teacher accountability and charter schools (and don't get me onto that) paint a clear picture.  Things haven't changed, nor will they.  

    This isn't cynicism; a cursory glance at National's Education plan further enlightens us to the path they want us to follow.  The terms I have already highlighted are very prevalent and they are familiar if you teach in the UK or the US.  The current government seems to be very interested in schemes hatched in both these countries and we both know where that has lead.

    Like you I receive feeds from the UK and read them with interest.  Have done so for quite sometime now.  Not so long ago I remember turning to my wife and commenting on that, while I dislike national standards and what they represent, at least we don’t live in England.  Well, it seems that might not apply for too long (not that we are moving)

    Forgive my rant, but it is not really because I am passionate about education (although I am), but because I am an educator who is a passionate parent.  I don’t like what I see for my kids over the next three years, but I at least know that the tradition of great primary teaching in this country is not likely to be tainted too quickly.  And yes, we as parents will play the biggest part in helping shape our child’s formative years.  But that doesn’t mean I have to sit back and watch a group of ill informed politicians take schooling backwards twenty years.  Yes, we need change, but in the other direction please.

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