Yesterday’s announcement by the Ministry of Education and NZEI of a new joint initiative to explore evidence based strategies in collaborative practice, career pathways, and student transitions through the system, came as a welcome surprise to me, and I’m sure, to you also.

This is my penultimate newsletter as president. I am fast running out of time to meet some commitments that have been lurking for some time, and one of those is to provide some advice to principals who are under pressure from within their school.

The legislation for the creation of the new EDUCANZ to replace the former Teachers’ Council body is now undergoing its second reading. Without warning, it was promoted to the top the queue this week. 

President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, Philip Harding, said ‘Given that 1,500 people made written submissions to the select committee and only thirteen of those were in support, it is astonishing that so little in the legislation has changed.’

Some weeks ago the Federation became aware that NZSTA had circulated an invitation to consultants involved in the appraisal of principals across the country, offering them the opportunity to become “accredited” to carry out this professional work.

The week has seen deciles continue to trouble many, with some schools reporting a shift of four steps upwards. This will have a significant impact on budgeting, and speaking from the post-earthquake experience in Canterbury I urge those affected so dramatically to really consider budgets early and in detail. It is vital to signal the challenge to those staff who may be affected down the track in a respectful and sympathetic manner.

This week has been all about decile funding, and it appears that the Ministry has gone to great lengths to personally contact schools with what’s happening to each school’s ranking. The other somewhat welcome news is the soft landing for schools that have gone up one or more deciles, with a reasonable delay until the drop in funding kicks in.

I have just finished my last breakfast in a hotel in Zhenjiang, in Jiangsu Province, in China. I have been attending the 10th Jiangsu International Forum for School Principals as a privileged guest of the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education, and their international agency, JESIE - Jiangsu Education Services for International Exchange.

My globe-trotting continues this week, and I have just returned to New Zealand after attending an Australian conference discussing cyber safety and schools' responses and responsibilities in this often dark and ever changing space.

Our country's draft Harmful Digital Communications Bill was described in almost reverent terms, as "world leading" and "trail blazing" as it seeks to empower us to manage and intervene in this complicated and rapidly changing setting.

I am currently in Sydney, representing New Zealand principals at the Australian Primary Principals' Conference. The conference started this morning with addresses by the NSW Premier, the Hon Mike Baird, and by the NSW Minister of Education, the Hon Adrian Piccoli MP. Both spoke passionately about their plans for education reform including greater autonomy and devolving control of funding and resourcing back to schools, and expressed their determination to continue to listen to the wishes and concerns of school principals.

Welcome to the final term of the year with all that heralds. I hope that things go smoothly and well, and that you all get to Christmas in one piece.

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