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Speaker - Louise Green

Louise Green

Louise has been working in education in New Zealand for 30 years. She moved into her first principal role in 1995 and has worked most recently as Principal of Khandallah School in Wellington. She was the NZEI Te Riu Roa representative on the Teachers Council for six years to 2014. Louise first joined NZEI Te Riu Roa National Executive in 2006, and has represented principals on the Executive since 2011.

Louise is currently the elected NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Te Manukura.

Text of opening speech, Sunday, 27 September

Greeting in Te Reo

Our unwavering commitment to do what's best for children / tamariki drives each one of us individually as members and collectively as NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Together we continue the legacy of members just like us - who, over the past 131 years, have stood up and spoken out to shape the outstanding public education system we have today.

Last year our theme was "It's time to Tackle Inequality". Inequality remains rife in our communities with 260,000 children living below the poverty line. We see this inequality all around us. We see how it impacts on children and their lived experiences every single day.

Tackling inequality will remain as a key focus for NZEI members. We know it's the biggest barrier to student success. Around 80% of a child's achievement is dictated by external factors.

Through the theme of this annual conference, "It's got to be about the Child", we hone in and focus more tightly on the child - and what this means for schools, centres and members in a rapidly changing educational environment.

Who better to do this than we, the professionals? We have the knowledge and expertise. We are driven by the moral purpose that brought us into this career in the first place! We go to work every day to make a real difference in the lives of children. That’s because we know our children and their potential. We know their families and our communities. We know them, not as statistics, but as real people. (Story about kids in banners)

The world is changing around us ...

Earthquakes in Christchurch have driven change. These changes are triggers for what's to come for the whole education system.

Migration patterns, population growth and increasing diversity are forcing us to think and respond to children’s learning needs in different ways.

Pressure on the housing market in Auckland and Christchurch means many families (and teachers) are unable to afford homes. That means they’re moving around looking for jobs and somewhere to live.

Lack of opportunities in areas such as northland means significant social issues and high levels of transience.

Rapid change in the digital world means huge opportunities but also massive challenges for jobs of the future.

The contexts for schools and centres around the country are widely varied. The impact on people, especially our children, is very real. We are forced to be reflective and adaptive. We must continually learn from each other and respond to needs - always keeping the best interests of children at heart.

The government is using the reform agenda to lift narrowly defined educational outcomes through a market driven approach. Education is seen as a business. This approach threatens the outstanding public education system we've invested so heavily in - with ideologies so at odds with our collective values.

What we now realise very clearly is that, in today’s political climate – Investing in Educational Success - IS the flagship policy for reform and it’s here to stay.

Make no mistake this is the biggest change to education since the advent of Tomorrow's Schools 26 years ago. It has landed without genuine consultation with the profession and no engagement with the wider community. It’s a move to connect the MOE with the 2500 autonomous schools thereby pulling back from our highly decentralised system.

Coming ready or not, many system levers, big and small, are at play to embed this radical change …

  • National standards and Public Achievement Information (PAI) data drive decision making
  • Charter Schools consume bucket loads of money and threaten viability of local public schools
  • Education Council with its undemocratically elected board is focused on standards, codes of conduct and auditing of appraisals and probably having a role in the delivery of PLD in the future.
  • ERO is focused on accountability not only of individual schools and centres but also communities of learning
  • Special Education Update is trying to do more with no more
  • PLD will be delivered to meet a small number of government priorities. This will be prioritised to communities of learning. CoLs will increasingly be the mechanism for the delivery of PLD.
  • A review of school funding is in the planning stages
  • And the biggie towards the end of the year, a comprehensive review of the education act to embed the system change agenda further.

You'll remember NZEI's "connect the dots", diagram (prop). The dots are now clearly connected and if we can’t see the that, it’s definitely time to go to SpecSavers. We don't like the picture we see. We see the Global Education Reform Agenda, better known as GERM [slide] as outlined to us at annual meeting in 2012 by Pasi Sahlberg. You’ll remember GERM means standardisation, choice, competition and data based accountability.

The system is changing not just because of external factors and government policy direction. It’s also changing because we’ve said things aren’t working. We’ve said many kids who need special education support aren’t getting it. We’ve said the PLD that’s available to us is often not what we want or need! We’ve said decile doesn’t necessarily reflect community needs accurately, isn’t enough and certainly isn’t a proxy for effective teaching. We’ve said many of us already work together, in spite of the competition created by Tomorrow’s Schools, and we need resourcing to continue.

There’s no road map for what the change will eventually look like.

However, we have a choice. We stand by and let the changes steam roller over us. Or we stand up, speak out and take collective action to change and influence policy in every way we can because we know the system has to do better than this for our kids.

Messages from the International Summit on the Teaching Profession that I attended in Banff earlier this year confirmed that when teachers are engaged in decision making at all levels of the system there are real benefits for students and learning. In fact, one of the presenters from Education International, John Bangs stated “Teachers are worth listening to … and now we have the evidence!”

Very soon you'll see some of the ways we've done this over the past year when we present the annual report video.

And on Tuesday afternoon, Paul Goulter, our national secretary will lead us through a workshop on “Schools to Schooling”. This will get us thinking more about where the system is heading. We need to do this to stay ahead of the play and be in a good place to continue to shape policy as the system moves from the current highly decentralised model to a more connected one.

I'm extremely proud that NZEI has stayed strong and taken a principled, strategic approach based on our values to promote the antidote to GERM. The antidote focuses on personalised learning, equity, collaboration, trust and professionalism (prop).

We've continually challenged the reform agenda using evidence and our combined professional knowledge. National standards are still shonky – neither national, standard nor fair. Charter Schools are seen as dodgy. We’re not buying into PaCT. We’ve put up well supported, credible nominations for the Education Council and lobbied to have the special education update timeframes extended so more parents can have their say. We’re working with other stakeholder groups to influence the funding review and we’re engaging in a number of Ministry consultation processes.

With your backing, we've also looked for opportunities to influence the flawed IES policy. We knew this wouldn’t be easy. The story of the Joint Initiative and subsequent negotiations are examples of this.

We’ve gone in with open hearts and open minds, firmly committed to our mantra “It’s got to be about the child”. We’ve used a highly credible, professional approach to working in partnership with the Ministry of Education to explore examples of collaboration and transition already happening in our schools and centres around Aotearoa. We’ve entered negotiations to develop a model that better reflects what we’ve seen and what we need to achieve for successful communities of learning.

However, these negotiations have been like no other and involved many hours of debate beyond the negotiation table, and at the highest level. Let’s just say that Paul and I are now very familiar with the inside of Hekia’s office!

Tomorrow, we'll be celebrating the professional work undertaken through the Joint Initiative. We’ll be acknowledging the people involved and exploring the key learnings that we must build on.

You all know where we’ve got to with the negotiations. The outcome of the vote has been to accept the offer. 71% of principals and 78% of teachers who voted gave the thumbs up although for many it was done so with caution.

We know there are sticking points around leadership and more time for collaboration. But we have a framework to build on. We also know there is suspicion about what’s really behind the policy direction.

Our aim through the Joint Initiative has always been for Communities of Learning to supersede Communities of Schools. And while we didn't get all we set out to achieve, we have made a significant start!

By continuing "in the tent" we will rally the collective voice of principals and teachers, and with NZEI strength and organisational power, bring further movement essential for success in these areas.

What's important for now is that

  • CoLs are self-identifying and voluntary,
  • Children and learning pathways are the focus, not structural pipelines
  • We have a nod towards recognition of the evidence that distributed leadership works best in educational settings,
  • Work will begin on a long-awaited career pathway for teachers
  • Flexibility can be applied to teaching roles
  • We have Phase 2 which includes and progresses much needed work with ECE, Support Staff, Maori and Pasifika learners, Special Education and PLD
  • And we have a structured process for review before the end of 2016 which means we can corral the voices of principals and teachers to influence more change.

All this has been very hard to achieve with a government that's hell bent on marginalising the true collective voice of the profession.

This is not the end of our story, but just the start with many more chapters to come.

So what next? We have a plan!

We must

  • Ensure members genuinely engage with Phase 2 so that we have whole of union input into system change.
  • Take the learnings from the working party to build a sound implementation process for forming communities.
  • Provide support for school leaders and teachers as they go through the really challenging process of defining what their kids need out of a community
  • Continue to organise together to keep moving Communities of Learning to be truly responsive to what kids in our communities need.

The times ahead will be challenging. But we know that when we come together focused on what’s really important we will work through these challenges to get the best outcome – “It’s got to be about the child!”

Over next three days, we will celebrate our professional work, celebrate our people, challenge our thinking, grow our understanding and build our collective strength so that we are in good heart to continue the journey.

Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa

Naumai, haere mai, piki mai

Annual Conference – President’s Dinner Speech

Sunday 27 September 2015

Greeting in Te Reo

Acknowledge Koro

A very warm welcome to you all.

Delighted to welcome

  • our invited guests - the response has been tremendous with around 40 people joining us tonight. Rotorua is obviously THE place to be!
  • our esteemed award recipients

We’ve seated you with others whose company we hope you will enjoy.

You are joined by our 360 hardworking and dedicated representatives behind whom sit our 48,000 members!

Tonight is a time of celebration as we come together as NZEI Te Riu Roa whanau and friends to recognise and honour our people and others who we wish to call our own.

Acknowledge all our invited and special guests

  • Andrew Little, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party
  • Her worship the Mayor of Rotorua, Stevie Chadwick
  • Peter Hughes, Secretary of Education and senior members of his team Dr Graham Stoop and Sarah Borrell
  • Guest speakers Professors Bob Lindgard, John O’Neill, Dr Peter Rawlins, Helen Kelly (CTU) and Ross Wilson (UnionAid)
  • And others displayed on the screen above.

We also acknowledge special friends, partners and members of the Joint Initiative Working Party who we will meet tomorrow.

Professionally challenging and stimulating year

The past year has been both professionally challenging and professionally stimulating for NZEI Te Riu Roa. Let me explain why.

Challenging – in the midst of system change

Stimulating – nature of professional work we’ve engaged upon

System Change – The system is undergoing the most significant change since Tomorrow’s Schools was introduced 26 years ago. Government is introducing new and radical education policy which will significantly impact on the way schools operate, moving from individual, autonomous units towards communities. These communities will have the primary focus of raising student achievement and increasingly become the method for delivering resourcing. They will also provide a connection with the system’s centre.

Earlier today representatives were reminded of the breadth and depth of the system change process we find ourselves in and the system levers in play to embed changes.

Those of us who lead change within our communities know that achieving transformational change of this nature requires working with and through others towards a well-articulated, shared vision and a transparent plan to get the outcomes we desire.

When this doesn’t happen, we find change challenging - and in this case, professionally challenging.

NZEI members stood firm and spoke out strongly when the government’s flagship policy IES was announced for this very reason. One aspect of the policy members did like was the focus on collaboration – a way of working we increasingly use within and between schools and centres.

We know from experience that when we work together - sharing professional expertise, challenging our thinking and adapting our practice - we see greater gains for children and their learning. Based on evidence from OECD reports, Andreas Schleicher says that there are links between more collaboration and higher job satisfaction and self-efficacy.

On this basis we looked for ways of making progress.

It was important to us to keep the child as the focus – “It’s got to be about the child!”. And we know that when we do this we can often put aside our differences and work towards the common goal of ensuring our quality public education system remains strong and works in the best interests of children.

That’s the opportunity the Joint Initiative has given us. With open hearts and minds and a determination to enhance the IES policy, NZEI entered into partnership with the Ministry of Education, working in collaboration with Peter and his team.

Together, we entered into what has been a professionally robust and stimulating process – looking at evidence from successful practice around the country. We’ve broadened the focus from the compulsory schooling sector to include early childhood education and looked at collaborations to improve success across the curriculum and transitions to support all learners from early childhood on - and especially our most vulnerable. We’ve interrogated the research, engaged with academics and identified key findings which provide a rich resource to underpin our work and for others to use to inform their practice. We celebrate our work from the Joint Initiative tomorrow.

This enriching professional process led to the negotiation of modifications to our collective agreements to support Communities of Learning which expand Community of Schools in a number of ways.

Working in this way has definitely not been easy – working in true collaboration never is. We’ve challenged our own thinking, had our thinking challenged by others and been challenging in return. In this way we grow stronger.

There are still sticking points with what has been achieved but we must remember that the place we’re in now is not the end point.

NZEI has a long and proud history, 131 years in fact, of members standing up and speaking out to influence and shape policy. That’s one of the reasons we have the outstanding education system of today.

We’re in a great place to carry on this legacy. There will be many more chapters in this story as we continue to influence and shape policy – collectively and with the organisational strength and mana of NZEI behind us.

So, what’s important going forward?

The voice of educators is most important as this story unfolds. At the ISTP in Banff which I attended this year, there was a big focus on teacher voice in decision making at all levels of the system. Based on evidence from OECD reports, John Bangs of Education International stated, “Teachers are worth listening to – now we have the evidence!”

We must be respected and trusted as the gains we are collectively looking for can only be achieved through us. We are closest to children, their learning and our communities. Policy makers must truly listen and partner with the profession to get the system right for all children – and not just based on short-term measures but for life-long success as satisfied, engaged and contributing citizens.

Evidence confirms that parents and communities DO, in fact, trust and respect their teachers. We’ve earned that trust because of the sound professional relationships we develop with children, their families and our colleagues. We’ve earned that trust because of the values, knowledge and expertise we bring to our work every single day. As professionals we need to stay strong – Stronger Together – and continue to stand up and speak out for what we know to be the best interests of children, their learning and the system that serves them.

Now it’s time to celebrate!

We are delighted that this year there has been a marked increase in nominations for awards and thank all those who worked hard to get these to us for tonight’s celebrations.

Annual Conference – “It’s Got to Be About the Child” Monday, 28 September

Morena koutou

Kia ora koro mo to karakia

Kia ora te whanau

Naumai, haere mai ki te kaupapa o tēnei ra

I hope you all enjoyed your evening celebrating our people. Congratulations again to the recipients of awards.

Thank you also for your work to create table runners related to our conference theme “It’s got to be about the child” which is also the title of this first session. Your efforts are remarkable and remind us just what a talented and creative bunch we are! Do take the time to have a look at these. Our judges have identified a number of runners which have really “spoken” to the theme and a sweet treat has been provided to keep your creative juices flowing!

Today we are moving into conference mode and that means lots of opportunity to engage and contribute. As we do so, let’s keep the theme “It’s got to be about the child” to the fore. In this way, we will stay focused on what’s really important throughout each of the conference sessions.

We begin by celebrating our professional work through the Joint Initiative between NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education. This was a direct result of the IES policy being dropped on the education landscape early last year.

We didn’t like what we saw and members told us loud and clear that they had no confidence in the policy. We felt $359,000,000 could be better spent supporting children and their learning – and especially our most vulnerable learners. We know intimately the extra support needed to overcome the considerable barriers created by out of school factors, namely inequality.

We came up with a Better Plan – but with the government’s focus on reforming the system to promote “super” leaders and teachers – we were unable to get any traction.

Instead of dropping our bottom lip and playing into the “marginalisation of our professional voice” game, we came up with a better way!

And effectively we undertook a massive action research project to prove our point!

The Joint Initiative has been a huge undertaking by NZEI.

We’ve committed massive resourcing in terms of our people, time, professionalism, expertise and money because of our belief in the profession. Our belief that we have the answers – that we can use these to develop a better way forward based on the unique New Zealand context and driven from the excellent professional practices that are already happening at grass roots.

What we’ve achieved is no mean feat in tough political times!.

Very soon we will meet some members of the team who have driven and carried out this work. As I continue to outline the shape of today’s programme, I invite all members of the Governance Group and Working Party (that’s NZEI members, staff and Ministry of Education personnel present) to come to the stage.

After introductions which will be made shortly, we will hear from Helen Kelly. With her roots firmly planted in education, I’m sure we will all appreciate the messages Helen has to share with us.

Following this we will meet two (possibly three?) amazing kids – Te Aumihi Hapeta and Arona Kerei Jnr (and Perez Kerei students) from schools in Rotorua and their whanau who will talk to us about their learning journey.

After morning tea, we delve deeper and look inside some of the case studies and research that created the Joint Initiative Report.

Bob Lindgard, our guest speaker will talk to us just before lunch. After lunch - and the Hot Issues session - we’ll have an opportunity to reflect on his messages and what they mean for our work. We’ll also have opportunity to ask Bob questions to help explore issues further.

Later this afternoon, after a brief presentation from Ross Wilson, you’ll have an opportunity to pursue areas of interest to you through a great range of workshops – many of which explore the findings of the Joint Initiative further.

As you can see – an exciting programme ahead!

Right now, I’d like to introduce the team behind the Joint Initiative:-

Process:- Each person on stage introduces self, stating worksite and role.

Louise:- Acknowledges MOE representatives not present

What

NZEI representatives

MOE representatives

Governance Group

  • Met every three weeks to guide/oversee work kept to ToR

Judith Nowotarski,

Lynda Stuart,

Stephanie Mills

Dr Graham Stoop

Sarah Borrell

Tony Turnock

Working Party

  • Effectively 2 days per week for the first few months of 2015
  • Whole of union!

Jan Tinetti

Liam Rutherford

Lorna Kennedy

Ripeka Lessels

Tute Porter-Samuels

Winnifred Morris

Julie Brice

Tiri Bailey

Mark Potter

Manu Pohatu

John Dwyer

Caroline Mareko

Ngaretta Strong

Deidre Alderson

Negotiation Team

Some went on to lead the negotiations.

Acknowledge also

  • Collaborative communities visited – schools and centres
  • Participants in Hui looking specifically at Maori contexts and Talanoa looking specifically at Pasifika contexts
  • Members filling in the survey telling us about collaborative practices out there – while we couldn’t visit all, information still very useful
  • Staff – project team – some of whom are here today AND all the other staff working behind the scenes to enable the process - planning, visits, organising logistics – at national and regional level
  • Academics – in support – Massey University Team (literature review), Cathie Wylie (provocateur) and many others who we’ve engaged with when needed
  • Ministry staff – certainly wasn’t an easy exercise for Peter and his team either.

I would also like to acknowledge Paul Goulter and Peter Hughes for the work they did in the lead up to and during the process to bring the Joint Initiative into fruition. We should not underestimate the clear thinking, commitment and strategic focus of these two key players.

The commitment from all our people has been amazing – they’ve given days of their time and energy on top of their day jobs – out of schools, centres, offices; meeting, planning and organising; flying and driving around the countryside; engaging with clusters to hear member stories; reading the research; recording and reporting findings; questioning; synthesising; probing; reflecting; challenging thinking and being challenged in return; analysing information; identifying key findings and producing the report.

Even this long list doesn’t do justice to the level of commitment you gave to this project. I’m not sure if anyone has actually counted the man hours – maybe we’re too frightened to do so – but this would give some indication of how great the investment has been.

Thank you on behalf of all members and please pass on our thanks to your employers for supporting you to do this work.

Through your professionalism and dedication, we’re in great heart.

We can all feel extremely proud of the leadership NZEI has shown through this process.

We have stuck to our values and worked hard to advance our high quality public education system further. We’ve modelled collaboration around a common purpose – focusing on the learner – and this has helped us put aside our differences with the government and find a way forward. We’ve developed high levels of relational trust and we’ve taken collective responsibility for the outcomes. We have also modelled a robust inquiry process. And have clearly demonstrated our professional credibility.

We cannot underestimate the significance of the quality of the resource we now have - clear documentation within the Joint Initiative Report [slide]. The report records the many examples of collaboration up and running within our schools and centres in spite of the constraints on collaboration that Tomorrow’s Schools created. Examples that enhance our practice.

In effect, we see that schools and centres are already designers of the change they want to see to overcome the issues preventing success identified within their own communities that are preventing. And that’s what we must build on!

The report also identifies the key findings on which we’ve based our work to develop a better model than the Community of Schools within IES. We’ve used this as our basis for entering negotiations and while we are disappointed because we haven’t got to where we want to be yet, work will continue in Phase 2 of the Joint Initiative … and that’s significant too!

Comments from participants:

At this point, we’ve got a time [?? Minutes] so I’d like to give an opportunity for members of the Joint Initiative Governance Group or Working Party to comment on key learnings:-

Thank you all once again

In closing,

There’s growing evidence that teachers, principals and support staff work best when they collaborate. And now OECD reports show that job satisfaction and self-efficacy increase when teachers collaborate and that’s on top of improved outcomes and success for children. WIN / WIN

The evidence we’ve collected from practice and the research highlights why the Joint Initiative has been a great opportunity for NZEI Te Riu Roa. As well as positioning us as professionally credible, we also have a valuable resource to share which provides further evidence to inform schools, centres and NZEI as we continue the next chapter of our story.

Stronger Together!

I’m excited about hearing more in-depth stories during the showcase session after morning tea and in the workshop sessions this afternoon.