Teach First NZ was this month delighted to be invited to participate in the inaugural Festival of Education, held in Auckland and Wellington.
The Festival attracted many exhibitors, speakers, performers and visitors from different schools, institutes, and organisations, seeking to celebrate excellence in education. The idea of the Festival was inspired by the successful London Festival of Education and stemmed from our Education Minister’s search for a new means to raise the profile of all the good things happening in New Zealand Education.
The Teach First NZ team was excited to be a part of this initiative, and to meet people involved in all areas of education. The interactive element of Teach First NZ’s stand was a simple voting system in response to the question, “What would you change about education?” Voters were given five options: “Laptops for All Children”, “Smaller Class Sizes”, “Improve Teacher Training”, “Free School Lunches” and “Pay Teachers More”. In order to vote, one had to put a coloured bead into a measuring cylinder corresponding with one’s chosen option. It was interesting to note that at the end of the Auckland Festival, the cylinder with the most beads was “Pay Teachers More”, whereas the popular option at the Wellington Festival was “Improve Teacher Training”.
The discussions that took place in the seminars and chat rooms were challenging, stimulating and enlightening. Teach First NZ CEO Shaun Sutton and 2013 cohort participant Rebecca McGrath were both guest speakers on the “Initial Teacher Education: Art or Science?” chat room. The performance items put up by various school groups at the Festival were thoroughly entertaining, and the enthusiasm of all involved was infectious, making spectators beam with pride and delight, and overall succeeded in giving the Festivals a celebratory vibe.
The experience was an enriching one for Teach First NZ, leaving staff and participants with plans to be back at any future Festival, hopefully in the near future!