Tēnā koe. 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.
The federation held its annual conference in Invercargill in the final week of term, and it was quite a revelation. It is staggering to see what a licensing trust can do in a rural town to provide world-class facilities and a first-class venue for a professional gathering that punched well above its weight. The warmth of our Southland welcome, the innovative social programme and well-appointed venue, all contributed to a great week.
The city is home to a world-class velodrome, which was used to host a fiercely competitive regional cycling contest made up of teams of principals and the 46 degrees of wooden slope certainly made the experience exciting for those who had a ride. The spacious venue and great food ensured a convivial conference with plenty of opportunity to network, catch up with old friends, and to interact with the many sponsors and business partners who attended.
I wish to publically thank the entire Southland organising team, ably led by convenor Ben Witheford, and supported by the Southland Principals’ Association and its president, Wendy Ryan. The organising company was Core Education, whose staff were responsive and enthusiastically helpful throughout.
NZPF’s annual conference has developed and changed over the years, and what worked superbly 20 years ago is less fit to purpose today. Now, principals are looking at a plethora of opportunities for their professional development, in a wide variety of locations.
Years of successful conferences have delivered some healthy profits to the larger regions hosting them but have left some schools scratching their heads over the registration costs. Meanwhile, schools in smaller regions, which do not have the facilities for hosting our conference, struggle from year to year to deliver more localised professional learning opportunities.
The federation is starting a national discussion to explore these challenges and to refresh the national conference format and rules to ensure it is absolutely fit to purpose. This discussion needs to consider costs, profit sharing, especially to the smaller regions, suitable and preferred venues, and other aspects of design, which will ensure continued support from you and your colleagues, well into the future. This review will reach out to regional associations and seek your views on the strengths and weaknesses of your national event, and endeavour to build on those strengths to ensure that the NZPF Conference is your first choice for professional learning every year.
2015 will see the conference held in Wellington, and already the organising committee has completed much of its work, with a website open right now just waiting for your registration, at www.nzpfconference2015.co.nz. In fact, you can split the costs across two years if that suits your school’s budget needs, but check out the site, the programme, the venue, and the keynotes – I’m sure you will be impressed.
Noho reira, noho ora mai ra