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Source: NZSTA

The 34th Te Whakarōputanga Kaitaki Kura o Aotearoa (formerly NZSTA) Annual Conference is underway at the Tākina convention centre in Wellington, where some 1000 school board members have convened for 4 action-packed days of professional development, hui and speeches.
Minister of Education Hon Erica Stanford and Associate Minister of Education Hon David Seymour delivered keynote speeches to open Friday morning’s proceedings, followed by a Q&A with the audience.
Minister Standford speech
Minister Stanford focused her speech on the Government’s recently released education priorities, pausing first to acknowledge school board members and all they contribute to the running of Aotearoa’s schools and kura.
“You are the magic in the system and thank you so much for what you do. We literally could not run the education system without you,” she said.
The Minister shared her aspirations for ākonga, calling student achievement her “guiding north star”.
Lifting student achievement necessitated changes to the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of teaching in Aotearoa, she said, pointing to plans to rewrite the curriculum, improve teacher training and take a new approach to teaching literacy and numeracy.
The Minister reiterated her commitment to working cross-party in undertaking this work, to build an enduring consensus in education, which has long been called for by the sector.
Also high on the list of the Minister’s priorities-and front of mind for our members-is closing the equity gap.
“In this country your means determine your destiny, and that’s not the vision I’m sure any of us have in the education system and that has to change,” she said.
The Minister wrapped up by surveying the “wins” for education in Budget 2024, including the cash injection into the school property portfolio, which is another area of concern for our members.
Minister Seymour speech
Joining us remotely, Minister Seymour focused his speech on his areas of responsibility, namely that of attendance, lunches in schools and the establishment of charter schools, not before acknowledging school boards for the important role they play.
“Today our education system, to a large extent, stands or falls on the quality of that governance”, he said.
The Minister spoke about the recent, controversial changes to the lunches in schools programme, highlighting the savings found by switching to the new funding model, before speaking to the issue of declining student attendance, saying “it is difficult to overstate the effects this has on New Zealand’s long-term future”.
He also spoke to the Government’s work establishing charter schools and the interest being generated among some state schools in converting to a charter school.
School boards conference
Giving their keynote addresses later on Friday was Dr Keri Milne-Ihimaera, a consultant to organisations working to improve outcomes for Māori, and representatives of Tokona te Raki, an iwi-led initiative committed to ending academic streaming.
Approximately 1,000 attendees from schools across the country have come together in the capital for four days of keynote speeches, seminars, and masterclasses. As they develop their governance and school leadership skills, there is a lively energy clear in everything from passionate questions to the ministers, to a general buzz around Tākina this weekend. Conference wraps up on Sunday with dozens of professional development workshops, speeches and a gala dinner still to come, hosted by long time conference emcee Pio Terei.