Trans-Tasman education leadership opportunities

A new agreement between the Education Faculty of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and Australian professional leadership institute QELi may see the University begin to provide professional learning and development to educational leaders across New Zealand.

As COVID-19 forced countries worldwide to close their borders to arrest the spread of the virus, QELi cancelled plans to offer professional learning to groups of New Zealand educators. The University had a connection to QELi through Dean of the Education Faculty, Professor Stephen Dobson.

“We started talking via Zoom and started looking at potential collaborations in the educational leadership sector. Fairly early on we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and we are now working on possible programmes,” says Associate Professor Kate Thornton who teaches educational leadership courses with lecturer Dr Brenda Service.

Dr Service adds, “The combined resources of both institutions can provide a relevant programme for New Zealand school leaders. We know from our research that there is a gap in this area, and that principals and mid-level leaders in schools would like to be able to do ongoing learning online. With QELi’s partnership and platforms, this has become more accessible.”

Prior to COVID-19, QELi’s programmes were all delivered face-to-face, but they have moved quickly to become an online provider and Dr Service says they are well-known for the quality of their programmes.

“We will work with QELi to ensure there is a New Zealand, culturally responsive context for any programmes that arise from this collaboration. Once this agreement has been ratified by the University, we plan to get UniVentures to help us move into providing professional development for school leaders, growing our reputation as a provider of learning and development programmes,” says Associate Professor Thornton.

Both academics are also interested in teaching school leaders best practice for coaching and mentoring. “It’s a big thing in education overseas, but in New Zealand there are very few opportunities for leaders to learn how to be coaches, for their peers, and for students. The key to this is listening and asking good questions,” says Dr Service.

QELi has agreed that any programmes they offer in New Zealand will be done so in partnership with the University.

Associate Professor Thornton summarises, “This agreement will broaden the Faculty’s influence in terms of leadership, learning and development more widely in the school sector, across early childhood and primary, as well as secondary leadership.”