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Launch of new Ministry of Education - Hobbs Speech

Hon Marian Hobbs Speech Notes

Launch of new Ministry of Education, National Library, Thurs Feb 28, 10.45am

Thanks for inviting me to speak at this function to help celebrate the opening of the new Ministry of Education.

The government believes that integrating Specialist Education Services and the Ministry will provide an opportunity to harness the very best of both organisations.

The result will be a stronger and more effective Ministry.

My colleague, Lianne Dalziel, is very sorry she cannot be with you on this special occasion but it is important that New Zealand is well represented at the people smuggling conference in Indonesia. She has asked me to read the following message:
"May I congratulate Howard Fancy on what is a new beginning, and thank all of you who have worked so hard to make this happen," says Lianne. "I know that change can cause tension, so I am grateful for the extra effort you have put in. May I also welcome Barbara Disley to her leadership position. I know Barbara from her previous roles in the Mental Health Foundation and the Mental Health Commission. Her selection to the position was nothing short of inspired.

"Today represents for me a highly significant milestone in this continuum of change which ultimately seeks to ensure that children with exceptional learning needs and/or disabilities receive all the support they need to achieve their full potential – not only in educational terms but in terms of their lives.

I wish you well, and look forward to working with you as the Learning Support Network becomes a reality and Group Special Education becomes and integral part of the new Ministry of Education.”

So speaks Lianne Dalziel.

For me, I want to make the point that the changes taking effect today are evolutionary rather than revolutionary ones.

‘Coming together’ is part of a staged, three-year plan to enhance services to the people we serve - children, young people and their families.

When the Ministry’s doors open tomorrow, it will be business as usual.

But is clear that over time, bringing special education policy, operations and service delivery under the same organisational umbrella will transform the way you work.

This process will challenge all staff in the new Ministry - not just the people in the new Group Special Education - to be right up with the needs and expectations of families and schools.

Key areas here include school effectiveness, the needs of children and young people at risk, Mäori and Pacific people, teacher supply and training and research.

Staff in schools who formerly worked with SES will now be working for Group Special Education within the Ministry.

This will inform the development of ‘hands on’ policy and will help better meet the needs of children and young people with special needs, their families and the their communities.

Bringing SES into the new Ministry is part of several positive changes afoot in the education sector.

The initiatives include the emergence of the Tertiary Education Commission, and the launch of the early childhood education strategy focusing on increasing participation in the sector.

Implementing the adult literacy strategy and developing ICT within schools are among the others.

These initiatives signal a move by the government to become more responsive and proactive to issues that have been apparent in the education sector.

These are challenging times for the Ministry.

Five years ago many New Zealanders might have described its priorities as efficient management, and enforcement of rules and regulations.

Today that is changing.

By being more outcomes focussed and responsive to learners, it would be fair to say that the word ‘education’ is going back into the Ministry of Education.

As I said earlier, we are at a starting point for evolution in the way we work.

We are not there yet.

It is going take time and goodwill to achieve the gains I know are there for the new Ministry to realise.

The key will be keeping our focus squarely on achieving the best possible social and economic results for our children and young people. And celebrating our considerable success. The way we learn, the way we work with each other is world-leading. Remember how good we are.

I wish the new Ministry the very best of luck.

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