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NZ Company Exporting Educational Leadership to USA

For Immediate Use
22 March 2006

NZ Company Exporting Educational Leadership to the USA

A cutting edge New Zealand educational leadership programme has been snapped up by the American market in a six figure deal.

The move will see the programme marketed throughout the US this year and be further developed for implementation in US elementary and middle schools

The Literacy Leader is a leadership programme for school principals developed by three Wellington educators.

It supports principals to lead change in literacy amongst students in elementary and middle schools (primary and intermediate) by reviewing and reforming reading, writing and speaking.

Lift Education’s Neale Pitches and Sue Watson, developed the programme with literacy specialist Samantha Venning and have successfully trialled it in Pennsylvania, the fourth largest school state in the USA.

The trio believe their success is a coup in the competitive US education sector, especially now the programme has been picked up by American educational publisher Pacific Learning for use in schools throughout the United States,

“The program combines New Zealand’s cutting edge literacy practice with strong change leadership principles. And it’s exciting that what started as a small regional programme in Pennsylvania is about to go national,” Pitches says.

The research-based programme is a highly successful approach to improving the teaching of literacy in schools.

Although The Literacy Leader has its roots in New Zealand educational practice, it is tailored to the specific needs of US educators facing mounting pressure to improve literacy scores under President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Policy, says Pitches.

Through the programme, principals and their leadership teams work collaboratively with Pitches and Watson to undertake a review and needs analysis. An improvement plan driven by school-wide data about the strengths and weaknesses of the teaching program in literacy is then developed.


Lift Education is a Wellington-based educational consultancy that has completed projects for varied clients such as the Ministry of Education, Education New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa and the Department of Internal Affairs.

Neale Pitches, Lift Education’s chairperson, is the former principal of Onslow College in Wellington and has plenty of on-the-ground experience in educational leadership. As chief executive officer of the New Zealand Government-owned educational publishing company Learning Media, Pitches played a central role in growing the export market for New Zealand educational, particularly literacy, resources in the United States and is putting that knowledge to good use in developing new products and services – part of the much-vaunted knowledge economy drive to export intellectual property.

Dr Sue Watson, Lift Education chief executive, is a former secondary school teacher, lecturer and educational researcher who completed a PhD in education at Victoria University. Prior to founding Lift Education, she was a research associate at the Consortium for Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was involved in the evaluation of school reform in two large urban school districts.

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