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Presentation Of Study Award


Trevor Mallard Speech
Wellington Principals Association – Presentation Of Study Award

Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.

I know that you had my colleague Georgina Beyer here this morning so I'm sure you probably know more about what's happening in Parliament at the moment than I do. Well, more of the interesting stuff at least!

I'm going to use my time here today to focus on professional development because I believe that the award that I am presenting here today epitomises all that is good about improving ourselves professionally.

I'm a big proponent of professional development and lifelong learning. It is something I undertake myself as well as encourage among my staff. A couple of years ago I did a speed reading course. It might sound like a small undertaking, but with the mountain of paperwork that I get to take home each night, I think it has saved me hundreds, if not thousands, of hours. In other words – it has helped me do my job more effectively.

Since the mid-eighties, the education system in New Zealand has gone through some major changes. It's been largely focused on providing a greater range of choices – to schools and to parents. Those changes have provided New Zealand with a dynamic system.

I'd like to now focus more energy on what actually happens in front of the class.

I believe that the quality of the teacher is one of the greatest single factors that contribute to the quality of learning within a school. As a Government we see quality education as crucial to providing our future labour markets with workers who have the skills and qualifications to contribute to a vibrant economy.

As professional leaders, you play a major role in monitoring that quality; in encouraging that quality; and in inspiring that quality.

Undertaking professional development, and constantly looking around you at the good things that are happening in other schools - both in New Zealand and internationally - is part of that.

It is a process that I hope will be enhanced through the establishment of the Education Council. I want the council to reinforce the obligation of teachers to undertake ongoing professional development in order to ultimately improve educational outcomes for students. I see the council playing a leading role in promoting appropriate professional development for teachers and principals.

It is also proposed that the council will take a leading role in promoting and advancing best practice, including keeping up to date with national and international developments.

Submissions have just closed on the discussion document, and work is progressing on analysing the responses. However, overall the response has been positive and we're on schedule to introduce relevant legislation to Parliament by the end of the year.

In a separate process, the Ministry has also been looking closely at the specific professional development needs of principals. It is an issue that both principals and boards feel needs to be addressed from a more central perspective. I am keen to see that it is well coordinated. So far this year there has been consultation with key sector groups and a stock take of the range and the type of professional development currently available to principals. They've also looked at what is happening overseas.

Already gaps have been identified and the next step is a series of focus groups that will examine more closely the needs of different types of principals and aspiring principals. For example, an urban principal of five years has quite different needs from a first year principal in a two-teacher rural school.

In this forum, you demonstrated publicly five years ago the support you have for constantly looking at new ideas to improve the service you provide to children.

Already, the annual study award has allowed Wellington regional principals to look at a diverse range of topics including gifted learning programmes and performance appraisal processes.

Some of you will have just attended a workshop run by last year's winner Bill Sutton who looked at using the arts to enhance learning.

I'd be interested to hear how his findings relate to our arts curriculum. You might be aware that I launched the final version of that last week at Island Bay School. It's an inspiring and challenging curriculum that not only provides for broad educational outcomes but also helps ensure a strong and vibrant arts community across the country.

The new Government has been fairly active in the education area this year. I am sure that we will have a chance in alternative fora to discuss these in more depth.

In the meantime, I have been given the honour of presenting the Wellington Regional Primary Principals' Association study award.

In doing so, I'd like to acknowledge the support of the other co-sponsors, the Wellington College of Education and Furnware.

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