ISNZ 2021 Annual Conference preview

Dear All

Our ISNZ 2021 Annual Conference is to be held at the Hilton Auckland on Friday 20 August and Saturday 21 August 2021.

This year’s conference programme has a focus on the broad theme of Harnessing the Power of What Works and Innovating for the Future of Education.

Throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic there has been much commentary on the impact of the pandemic on education. We’ve read headlines such as “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education ever”, ”The 'new normal': the future of education after COVID–19”, “COVID-19 crisis has affected over 63 million teachers and highlighted persistent weaknesses in many education systems” and “COVID-19 could change how we educate future generations”. Some commentators have suggested that the education of young people has been turned upside down and that we have no choice but to “reimagine” the future of education.

Interestingly, one of the global impacts of the pandemic has been an unexpected growth of enrolments in independent schools throughout the world and we are seeing the same trend here in New Zealand. At a time when parents are facing continued economic and employment uncertainty it is not surprising that many were of the view that independent schools would see drastic student withdrawals and decreasing enrolments. We all know there will be continued volatility in this pandemic environment and the landscape for private schools may well change with some schools faring better than others.

The conference programme this year shall explore the value proposition of the independent school sector in New Zealand both from the perspective of what’s working for our schools and the influences we should be mindful of in the future landscape of education. Some of the key conference programme highlights shall include:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on New Zealand population projections – what might this mean for independent schools and school roll projections?
  • Schooling beyond COVID-19 – does the value proposition of independent schooling need to change? How sure are we of consumer confidence in our preparation for the uncertain road ahead? Has our market changed?
  • Governance – the rules of good governance apply now more than ever – coming out of a pandemic crisis what elements of effective governance should be uppermost in the minds of our school boards?
  • The sustainability and viability of the New Zealand private school sector – independent schools must quickly adapt to the potential financial sustainability challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. How can our schools innovate, explore new models and deepen their collaboration to become more financially sustainable? Provocatively, should we be considering a “merger and acquisition market” that may save many smaller, vulnerable schools while strengthening the position and viability of the independent schools that remain?
  • Leadership – our schools can be justifiably proud of the crisis leadership that has been demonstrated during the last year; disruptive and adaptive leadership skills have been crucial in this ongoing pandemic environment. We’ll have a focus on future-prepared school leaders and look, more practically, at what type of leadership approaches have and haven’t worked during this crisis and consider what leadership characteristics are required of 21st Century school leaders and educators.
  • Mental health and emotional wellbeing in the workplace – the pandemic has had an impact on us all with some people, young and old, thrown into an isolated world full of uncertainties. A culture of health can make a difference. We’ll look at a people-focused approach outlining the role of an employer in ensuring the wellbeing of the workforce during and after a period of crisis. We’ll analyse the needs of employees, and how we provide support through learning and development of employee mental resilience to handle stress or trauma.
  • Student wellbeing, child protection and pastoral care – educators have been key in protecting student mental health and wellbeing long before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. However, early indicators suggest that COVID-19 has impacted some students’ lives through increased isolation, loneliness, stress and sadness. Many students are shouldering their parents economic and employment uncertainty which is affecting their wellbeing and learning. What should we be looking for in student behaviours and should we be adapting our child protection and wellbeing support mechanisms?
  • HR/workforce trends – recent commentary and research suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a hybrid working model that is here to stay. How might this affect the teaching workforce in the interest of recruitment and retention? What should we consider in promoting teaching opportunities in independent schools?
  • International education – many schools in New Zealand have been impacted by the loss of international students as a result of border closures. We’ll look at the New Zealand international education recovery plan and the unique selling points for independent schools in attracting international students and our preparedness and readiness for the opening of our borders.

All these questions and many more will be explored by our great line-up of speakers.

We look forward to profiling our conference speakers leading up to the conference. The full programme will be available when registration opens in early June giving you nearly three months to register. The Early Bird rate will apply for one month from the opening of registration in early June. All registration details and costs shall be sent to you in early June.

We are in the throes of sending you the ISNZ Conference 2021 accommodation link so that you can take advantage of the negotiated room rate offered at the Hilton Auckland.

We are excited to offer you the opportunity to come together at the conference, to network, to share and to collaborate. Now more than ever before independent schools need to connect, collaborate and engage with their wider communities.

Kind regards

Deborah James
Executive Director

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