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Blog Archives

NZCEO

The NZCEO CEO Blog

February 2017 Investing in Education

July 2016 It is not Religion, it is Survival

June 2016 Exaggerating the Potential of Schools to Reduce the Gap

April 2016 Being Focused on Success

Farewell Statement from Sir Patrick Lynch Integrated Schools Are in Good Shape

March 2016 An Interesting Turnaround

February 2016 Resilience

November 2015 Being Nice Does Matter

October 2015 An important global anniversary

September 2015 Citizens of the world

August 2015 Disruptors Affecting What We Do and How We Operate

July 2015 Keeping the World of Work Running Smoothly

June 2015 Time Poor?

May 2015 The Pervasive Influence of Technology

April 2015 Embracing yet managing diversity

March 2015 The New Normal

February 2015 What Price Achievement?

November 2014 The People's Republic of China

September 2014 Quality is the end game

August 2014 A free and open society

July 2014 Data mining is smart leadership

June 2014 The importance of the long view

May 2014 Niche Study Zones

April 2014

March 2014 A Simple Solution

February 2014 Making the improbable possible

November 2013 Collaboration and alliances are the engines of the 21st century

October 2013 The Power of Uplifting Expectations In An Organisation

September 2013 A Matter of Honour

August 2013 Courageous Leadership

July 2013 What has the last twenty years taught us about what works in education?

June 2013 Ideas change the world and change lives

May 2013 The School Experience

April 2013 Our Culture – The way we do things

March 2013 Why Nations and Enterprises Fail

February 2013 Making a difference in our world

November 2012 Standing up and being counted is fundamental to leadership.

October 2012 Solid Foundations

September 2012 Those engaged in education, educate for freedom...

August 2012 Our Response To The World’s Geopolitical Shift

July 2012 How Determined Are We?

June 2012 The Power of Persuasion and influence

May 2012 Resting On Our Laurels Is Not An Option

April 2012 Harnessing the Evidence of Dramatic Change Occurring before our Very Eyes

March 2012 Simple Answers Are Not Always Easy To Come By

February 2012 Effective Leadership

December 2011 Common International Standards

October 2011 Wide Eyed Idealism Does Carry The Day

September 2011 Amnesia – What Amnesia?

August 2011 Cultural Capital

July 2011 Persuasive Leadership

June 2011 Civility – The Oil of Society

May 2011 Wanted – Doers

April 2011 Joining The Future

March 2011 The Collective IQ of the Population

February 2011

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

June 2010

February 2017

Investing in Education

As schools return to another academic year people begin to focus on the cost of education to families and the government. There is no doubt that there is a real cost for education. The question is how do we know it is a good investment.

Most societies understand that resourcing or investing in education is fundamental to a strong participating democracy. They also know that while money is important it is not the most important element in measuring our success. It is hard to show a relationship between investment and outcomes in education. In contrast health and justice can show direct links to outcomes in services or improved outcomes.

We agree that money needs to be sufficient to meet the needs of the learner. The challenge is to show that more money makes a difference or that money invested is sufficient.

The Government could argue that it provides sufficient resource and that it is Principals and Boards of Trustees that make the decisions on where to spend it. We know that some Boards squirrel money away and accumulate it while others spend more than they receive and look to the state to help them out. Both cases tend to argue against self-managing schools.

If education is an investment then the investor, the government, might want to direct and control what is spent to see whether it is local decisions that create the cry for more resource or a genuine lack of funding.

Self-managing schools were an epiphany for many Principals in 1989 when they received the opportunity to manage and prioritise funding for the first time. A swing of the pendulum could erode much of the support that has followed self-management.

The challenge is, without destroying some of the positive attributes of localised decision making, to find a way that demonstrates money invested is spent on the purpose of the investment. It is also important that we remind ourselves that money isn’t the panacea for educational change. What really makes the difference is the relationship between the student and the teacher that causes learning to occur.

Finding a funding formula that retains some aspects of local decision making, ensuring that new money is an investment not a sink hole, and remembering that it is the teachers who make the difference will need to be at the heart of this resourcing debate.

Paul Ferris
NZCEO CEO
February, 2017

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July 2016

It is not Religion, it is Survival

There is a growing awareness in our lives that the world is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among people and nations but by a lack of respect for the environment. Continuing to disregard the fragile nature of our planet will seriously threaten our way of life and more importantly, deny our children and future generations the gifts of creation.

The Church has taken a position on many issues. We have generally referred to them as Catholic Social Teaching. Pope Francis now calls us to a new reality when he warns that it is a responsibility of our calling to make every effort to stop the destruction of our environment.

"Humanity is called to take note of the need for changes in lifestyle and changes in methods of production and consumption to combat this warming, or at least the human causes that produce and accentuate it."

It is not a religious dogma, it is a call to respect creation and to ensure that those who come after us have the opportunity to enjoy it. Like many other things it becomes a shared responsibility of our schools to ensure that they participate in this focus. Having regard for education of children as a whole requires us to make this an important part of our school programme. If we model what we want to grow then this generation will leave the children who come behind a legacy that is immeasurable.

As a young man I remember my father's imperative about leaving something for the next generation. As a child of the depression he saw that as an important responsibility. I think his imperative is even more important now. Leaving money is good but leaving a self-sustaining planet is more life giving.

Paul Ferris
NZCEO CEO

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June 2016

Exaggerating the Potential of Schools to Reduce the Gap

In the recent issue of NZ Principal, Emeritus Professor Warwick Elley says that the Minister exaggerates the potential of schools to reduce the gap between high and low achievers. He notes that the opposition from Primary Teachers is now having an influence on the way the Investing in Educational Success is iterating from its first proposal.

Professor Elley has a huge reputation for leadership and commentary in New Zealand schooling. His critique and scholarship has been important for us in developing policy. However, his concerns about the influence of Michael Fullan in Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand might have more to do with the complexity of the problem rather than Michael having a negative influence on those systems.

Professor Elley also questions the relevance of the various pieces of research used by the Ministry of Education to support the idea of Communities of Learning. It is true that these pieces of research are based on systems that are not the same as ours, nor are they replicated in the same cultural context. Any time we rely solely on the evidence of other systems we need to know that they apply within their own education setting and that we can develop what works for us.

One could note that over the past decade we have relied heavily on the research and expertise of Professor John Hattie to define some of the successful measures of schooling. Like other international researchers Hattie's original work resulted from a review of thousands of theses which looked at engaging learners. We value his contribution because he looked at what happens overseas, reflected on it and made valuable connection to our education system.

New Zealand is rightfully concerned about the disparity of wealth and the influence of poverty within our society. It is a challenge for schools to address inequality and poverty through education but it mustn't stop us from trying. I am reminded that some of the finest interventions to address poverty through education came from within the Catholic Church. The poverty of Ireland and the disenfranchisement of many families led to extreme hardship for Catholic families. The Irish Catholic Church, through people like Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters, Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers and Catherine McAuley and the Mercy Sisters responded by finding ways to empower people through education. They gave people the skills to feed themselves and find employment. We cannot underestimate the hardship and challenge they faced, but in doing so they made a positive difference to the lives of many. They couldn't have imagined how they could shift poverty and reduce disparity but they made a start.

For those of us who have food and shelter the debate is esoteric. For those waiting the delays are costly. We mightn't get it right immediately but we have to begin.

Paul Ferris
NZCEO CEO
June, 2016

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April 2016

Being Focused on Success

In recent years some hospitals have paid particular attention to supporting a culture of "doing no harm". It might seem strange for places that we associate with healing and restoring health to have such a focus when their intention and motivation is to restore people to health and participation in life. In fact this "no harm" approach is designed to make them even more successful at healing by reviewing and reflecting on what might have happened in particular treatments that caused the patient harm or distress. Importantly "no harm" review is also a "no blame" review so that people feel free to identify ways that the work they have done can be improved. Making these changes has helped the hospitals get closer to fulfilling their mission of healing.

Schools could have a similar focus. No school sets out to harm or negatively affect a student or staff member but the very nature of our institutions and our culture can have negative impacts along the way. In health one of the hardest steps to take was to get Doctors to acknowledge that there might have been some bad decisions in a treatment. Establishing the no harm approach has required a change of culture within the profession. Similarly, If schools are to be able to address areas where delivery or engagement has not been strong, without redress, they will also need to have a climate that allows teachers to acknowledge that when they identify an area of their performance that could be improved there are no negative repercussions.

Identifying, reflecting and addressing changes within organisations is an important step in improving outcomes for everyone. Hospitals, schools, police or any organisation will benefit from this culture, particularly when people feel free to own their mistakes without major consequences.

In my experience it is not uncommon for teachers to resist this sort of process. I have wondered if it is because teachers spend their life assessing others that they find the act of being assessed quite challenging. Creating a climate where we can hear opportunities for development that make a real difference to people is critical for a healthy culture.  It does not matter whether it is a hospital or a school or service organisation the culture created by its leaders will determine whether people feel free to engage in personal growth and development through mentoring and feedback. Systemic change that engages everyone in supporting and improving an organisation is fundamental to excellence in schools.

Paul Ferris
NZCEO CEO
April, 2016

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Integrated Schools Are in Good Shape

Farewell Statement from Sir Patrick Lynch - CEO

On 9th October 1975 the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act was passed by Parliament on the last sitting day of the Third Labour Government, with the support of the National Party Opposition. In so doing, in the words of the late Norman Kirk, the Prime Minister who initially led the Third Labour Government, it "healed the one hundred year education running sore" whereby a significant sector of New Zealand schools had been denied State funding.

In the forty years since the passage of this legislation Integrated schools have successfully taken their place in the State school education system and are now strongly contributing to the welfare of the system itself and to the wellbeing of New Zealand society.
The legislators and those organisations that contributed to formulating the Act were bold and visionary, yet were pragmatists who could see that trust and compromise were the ingredients that delivered legislation that needed to work in practice. That the fundamentals of the legislation have stood the test of time is a strong testament to the good will of the education groups and representatives of the Churches who worked together in order to fulfil the vision of Norman Kirk of healing the 100 year education running sore.

As I leave the CEO role of the NZCEO / APIS Office, I am acutely aware that it is the Proprietors, Boards of Trustees, Principals, teachers, parents and a host of others who have and continue to make the system work. I am grateful for their generosity, support and goodwill, for without them we would not enjoy the success we do.

It would be remiss of me if I did not single out successive New Zealand Governments since 1976 that have made the system work, in collaboration with Proprietors through their Integration Agreements with the Crown. Each of the fifteen Ministers of Education who have administered the Integration Act have acted with integrity and goodwill towards the sector - for this we can be eternally grateful.

We have a unique system of Integrated schools, which is a New Zealand "invention" that suits our needs, and what is more, it works. In the process it ensures Integrated State schools are not political footballs every time parliamentary elections come around.

It has been a wonderfully privileged journey to have worked with the education sector over 22 years. Thank you for the opportunity to have been able to meet so many of you in your various roles as you make the system work. May the trust and good will which the sector has built up in all of its wonderful diversity, continue to strengthen and deliver special character education to the over 88,000 young people in our 324 Integrated schools throughout the land.

I commend Paul Ferris, the new CEO, to you as a man whom you can trust. He is a well-respected educator who has your interests at heart.

May God Bless You All.

Patrick Lynch KNZM

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March 2016

An Interesting Turnaround

The term disrupter has now eased into our lexicon. It seeks to describe an innovation of one kind or another, which disrupts what we have come to accept as the normal way of doing things. The internet is full of these, many of which bring creativity, efficiency and excitement to our lives.

In the last year or so the hiring practices of a number of American companies have entered into a turnaround phase. Instead of advertising a specific job, the employment scouts seek out people who they believe are eminently suitable employees and then figure out what they might do with them in the workplace structure of the organisation.

At first glance this seems like an upside way of doing things until one examines the rationale for the emerging practice. At rock bottom the hiring organisation focuses on some fundamental intellectual firepower, but more importantly, the capability of the hiree to be able to transfer his/her talents.

The fundamental focus is on innate abilities, motivation, attitudes, resilience, values and compatibility with the intrinsic culture of the organisation.

On closer inspection one can easily see why this newer approach to hiring makes sense. Often in the past employees have become stuck in a position which was not a good fit for them or the organisation. This new approach, which has had some history in the teaching profession, is clearly an attempt to make work-life more conducive and satisfying for both the employer and employee. Employee self-management will enable the employment relationship to be a better fit for both parties.

Life is inherently disruptive - we just have to adapt, whether we like it or not!

This is the last of the Pat Lynch Blog. I express my deep gratitude for your support and good will over many, many years. I wish you well as I leave this wonderful role with the NZCEO/ APIS Office.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
March, 2016

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February 2016

Resilience

The contemporary world with its diminishing borders of various kinds is a rich mosaic of diversity. This engenders globalisation, innovation and the sharing of ideas, most of which enhance people's humanity. We have much to rejoice in when we stand back and reflect on these positives. In order to accelerate greater progress these concepts ought to be the lens through which we view the world.

However, one of the negative sides of at least a generation of wealth creation in the Western world is the sadness of seeing some of our young people who have led a privileged life, wanting for very little, developing an obnoxious attitude of entitlement. In its extreme this manifests itself in explosive negative behaviour at home and to a lesser extent in the school environment.

Many of these young people have been told while growing up that they were wonderful in much of what they did, because misguided adults didn't want them to experience too much of life's down-sides. Clearly, good intentions, in some instances, have had perverse negative consequences.

Today's educators who have an eye to the future of their charges would do well to not only emphasis the importance of the concept of personal best, but also seek to strengthen all that is associated with the concept of resilience and well-being, which are fundamental to happiness, the pursuit of good and the service of others. In this way, not only are young people better served, but so is society and of course humanity. In adopting this approach a new generation of young people would be more inclined to be doers rather than expecting everything on a plate, whether they deserve it or not.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
February, 2016

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November 2015

Being Nice Does Matter

The 21st century world is becoming so diverse that young people, in particular, run the risk of overlooking some of the essentials they need to work on, if they are to successfully navigate their way through the rich experiential possibilities open to them. Essentially, a focus on fundamental human relationships is what is coming to the fore as essential, not only for day to day interactions, but even more so in the world of work.

Stories are emerging from the Northern Hemisphere that employers do not take too much notice of C.V's and qualifications anymore, instead they concentrate on personal attitudes, emotional quotient, personality traits and the old fashioned virtues. It would seem that too many youngsters have an entitlement view of themselves for a whole range of reasons. Expecting to start well up the career ladder before having done the hard yards of proving oneself is not a good attitude to take into the workplace.

Then there is the important part in any working relationship, that is, the imperative of "being nice" to others. The basic ingredients of this are: displaying good manners, behaving courteously, showing one does know how to positively interact with others, even if one does not like them; behaving reasonably, displaying common sense and of course, learning from experience.

I wonder how many educators are emphasising this approach to their education framework? Doing well on PISA league tables does remain very important. However, in a tight, competitive employment market it seems that without a wide suite of the so called 'soft skills', the intellectual part of what a young person brings to the employment table is simply not enough anymore.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
November, 2015

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October 2015

An important global anniversary

On 8th September 2015 the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) marked the seventieth anniversary of its founding in 1945.

This organisation's aim is to contribute to world peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science and culture. Our country lived up to its reputation for being forward thinking, when it became the second nation to sign the UNESCO Charter and confirm its commitment to build peace through respect and dialogue. It continues to do this!

The founding principle of UNESCO is as relevant today as it was when World War II ended in 1945. "It is in the minds of men that wars begin and it is in the minds of men that peace will emerge." (1945 language)

UNESCO is known as the "intellectual agency" of the United Nations. At a time in history when there is more than enough turmoil and upset in the world, it behoves all of us to look for new ways to build peace and sustainable development. As Lord Rutherford once said of New Zealand in the early 20th century, "We do not have much money so we need to think." What has changed?

The power of collective intelligence enables peoples to innovate, expand their horizons and sustain the hope of a greater commitment to humanism, which in turn will bring more collaboration amongst all people, who, de facto, are global citizens.

UNESCO is committed to uplifting the lives of the vast number of people who still live in dire circumstances. It is a champion of the adage, "One of us is never as strong as all of us."

As we mark this important anniversary in the world's history may we recommit to treating others as we would have them treat us. After all, our common humanity is reason enough to take this stance, let alone more altruistic reasons.

If peace begins with a smile, our thoughts are the generator of good will, hence the importance of seeking to dispel ignorance wherever it is found.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
October, 2015

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September 2015

Citizens of the world

In July 2015 the United Nations estimated the world's population reached 7.1 billion people. To put this in perspective, New Zealand's population of 4.5 million represents 0.63% of the global population. Add to this reality despite that we are one of the more isolated countries in the world, it is wonderfully strange that so many of our fellow citizens have a reasonably good knowledge of the world's major issues, even though we are far removed from them.

Another reality is, as a people, we are great adventurers and travellers –statistics put us in the top ten per cent per capita of international travellers.

Among the nearly 200 nations of the world family of nations our country has developed an enviable reputation as an excellent internationalist – witness our current membership of the United Nations Security Council and the leading role we have played in Pan Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.

The burgeoning number of international visitors to our shores is also testimony to our friendly nature as a people. This in turn has built us into one of the most multi-cultural societies in the world.

Despite all of the above, the question remains, just how global are we in reality, when it comes to understanding ourselves as global citizens?

We are doing well in evolving this concept. However, if it is not actively promoted in schools and in tertiary education settings we will not be able to continue to "punch above our weight" and continue to promote amongst other countries the fair minded attitude, which we presently are known for.

All human beings desire a life which reflects human flourishing. Only in the setting of a fair global order can this goal be anywhere near achieved. New Zealanders can help bring about the goal.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
September, 2015

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August 2015

Disruptors Affecting What We Do and How We Operate

A new concept has crept into our lexicon in recent times which describes how many of our assumptions and traditional structures are being challenged. The word that describes the phenomenon is 'disruptors'.

The basis for the wide range of disruptors is primarily the digital revolution and the ease with which this tool is enabling significant change to occur. Examples of contemporary disruptors are Uber – hailing a ride with a private motorist through your smart phone; 3D software for modelling and tool development, rather than via traditional manufacturing methods; the availability of text books online; medical interventions using highly precise computer-guided instruments. The list goes on.

While mass production and mass advertising will continue in a modified form, the new emphasis is on the bewildering range of choice in the market place. It is the harbinger of niche market dominance. In the food and apparel industry this is becoming well established.

Disruptors are certainly fragmenting what has been familiar. However, it need not be all bad news. Diversity brings richness and enables creative individuals to promote their ideas, products and services. The education profession is constantly encouraged to innovate and to graduate critical thinkers, plus those who are innovators and entrepreneurs. Clearly the message is getting through. Big data, as it is called, is the gold mine that is enabling knowledge, which used to be held in professional silos, to be shared across a spectrum of professional groupings and organisations. Of course there are dangers in all of this. However, we cannot turn the clock back!

Ultimately, we have to believe in the power of the human enterprise to face problems and work out solutions to the biggest of our global challenges. We must also believe that one of us is never as strong as all of us in solving our challenges.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
August, 2015

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July 2015

Keeping the World of Work Running Smoothly

From time to time we all complain about the difficulty of engaging a tradesperson who is competent, reliable and charges reasonably. For 30 years the message to students in secondary schools has been, "Get a tertiary qualification and you will be set up for life!" Add to this the high loan-indebtedness of university students, the significant drop-out rate of undergraduates and you have some confused messages assailing secondary school students.

There is no doubt university education is the perfect goal for a significant portion of the population. It is disturbing however that in 2015 there has been a significant drop in the number of apprenticeships being taken up in New Zealand, the ostensible reason being that increasing numbers of youngsters see the trades as dirty and messy and not having the status they aspire to. All this is a great pity. Older folk all know the dependency they have on technicians and trades people. So the question is, what needs to be done to make these work opportunities more attractive to young people?

Maybe career education in schools could talk up the significant monetary rewards quality tradespeople earn, or more importantly emphasise the satisfaction a tradesperson enjoys when they have for instance: built a house, painted a building, wired a house, diagnosed what is wrong with a hot water system or worked out what is causing some engine trouble in a car. And the list goes on.

Tradespersons and technicians are intelligent people who with the right emotional quotient can make a highly successful career for themselves.

Maybe it is time for educators to team up more with the 'tradies' and technicians to the benefit of us all.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
July, 2015

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June 2015

Time Poor?

How many times in a given week do you hear people say, "I haven't got the time…", or in the workplace, reference to the tyranny of text, email and social media traffic, which cause anxiety and feelings of being swamped or overwhelmed. These are frequent experiences. All we can ever hope for in managing these situations is to stand back and put a sound management plan in place, so we cope better with the realities of our lives.

However, one is often left with the question, how much of the lack of time we complain about originates with our addiction to the use of social media. Maybe we are our own worst enemies in this regard, especially if we devote two to three hours a day to using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media tools, as increasing numbers of New Zealanders seem to do.

Social change and megatrend changes will always be with us seeking to unsettle us and pushing us to become anxious.

As with anything in our lives we are the only ones who are able to stand back, analyse what is going on, and then plot a way forward, so we are more in charge of our lives and less time poor through the more effective use of what time we have available.

In seeking solutions to the ambiguities and pressures in our lives we are better able to share the human and social capital resources within our networks. Asking questions, seeking solutions, not being afraid to ask the 'dumb questions'; all require courage. We often do have the answers in our own heads and hands, if we are brave and bold enough to analyse what is going on and then to act appropriately.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
June, 2015

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May 2015

The Pervasive Influence of Technology

Students of history are well aware of the various epochs in human development from the hunter-gather stage to the Industrial Revolution. Today's digital revolution is as pervasive and work changing as the industrial revolution was 200 years ago. We instinctively know this.

Today only the very brave or the foolhardy would accurately be able to predict what our world will look like in even 50 years' time.

What we do know, however, is that students will need to have mastered core skills, so they become: curious, discerning and able to create a pathway through the myriad of information that will be at figure tip control, directed technology or eye-vision manipulated systems. A fundamental skill will be the ability to make connections and analyse evidence in order to create new knowledge and ways of doing things.

Today's education leaders require some idea of where technology is leading us to in order to shape the skills young people will inevitably need in order to successfully navigate the accelerating revolution.

If we simply reflect on the advent of the smart phone with its wide range of features, all developed within the last ten years, we see a simple illustration of the revolution at work.

The proliferation of technology is exacerbating the tech-talent crunch. Apps are now a part of everyday life. The use of algorithms to solve a multitude of problems is another feature of what is happening. Crowd funding is yet another phenomenon which is having a massive impact. Contemplating these changes, one quickly comes to the conclusion that creativity, critical thinking and inquisitiveness are the tools of the future.

Maybe one simple tool that could be used more frequently with students is the concept of the 'passion project' where students pick a topic of their choice and then find out as much about the topic as they possibly can. All good for an intellectual challenge.

We all know that upon meeting a person for the first time a degree of richness can easily emerge from the encounter, if the right questions are asked. With the advent of cloud computing, data sharing possibilities are endless. Our young people will indeed rise to the challenge of developing their creativity, if we, as adults put the right parameters in front of them. They need to know a lot of what lies before them, even in very simple expectational terms.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
April, 2015

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April 2015

Embracing yet managing diversity

We all know that globalisation is now a fact of life. Every day of our lives is enriched by all sorts of dimensions of globalisation at work. At one level most people accept that diversity in its myriad forms delivers strength to our society.

The world's populations within their national boundaries often struggle with accepting those who are different from the majority in cultural, ethnic, religious or socio-economic terms.

All too frequently anti-immigrant sentiments whip up dislike for those who are different in the ways they do things.

If education is the great liberator then schools have an obligation to confront prejudice wherever it is found. They need to deliver graduates who at least have an appreciation of what constitutes the fundamentals of the United National Declaration of Human Rights, even though they might not be able to bring themselves to recognise at a spiritual level the fundamental that we are all children of God.

Over the long term, education improves societies and oils the wheels of societal harmony, well-being, and tolerance.

Fortunately, New Zealand's schools have led the way over the last two generations in strengthening the mosaic of ethnic diversity by celebrating difference and treating others who are different with respect. This approach not only embodies the best principles of humanity but also contributes to a better future for everyone.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
April, 2015

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March 2015

The New Normal

Operating as a leader or manager in 2015 is a complex business. Anyone who has been or is in either of these two positions would readily acknowledge the accelerating expectations and pressures placed on them by others demanding very quick responses to their queries and questions.

The personal qualities needed to be able to absorb information, process it and then reply to it in a reasoned and balanced manner come from being a well-informed individual.

Even fifteen years ago one could take 10 day to 14 days to reply to a letter and this was regarded as acceptable – not any more in our supercharged electronic age.

A report released recently by the executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles, and the Said Business School at the University of Oxford, found that chief executives felt their role had changed with one of the main findings of the report being the need for chief executives to have developed "ripple intelligence" i.e. the ability to be able to anticipate changes and disruptions and to respond to them (NZ Herald 'The Business' 23-01-15). We can all resonate with this finding.

In order to stay on top of this fast moving, ambiguous environment one needs not only a strong emotional quotient but also to have systems in place which enable one to pick up a variety of cues in the environment which signal change that will ultimately need responding to.

It is easy to be blindsided if one does not read and absorb information from a variety of sources in order to adapt to the continuously changing environment.

Once the information has been absorbed. processing it and using it to chart a way forward is all part of superior leadership and management in 2015.

Possessing a cautious attitude is fundamental also before decision making is engaged in. Such an attitude, however, does not pre-empt bold decision making where it is called for.

Yes, the new normal is very demanding on leaders and managers. However, we all can remain sane if we are measured in our responses to information flow and other pressures we face. After all we are able to live with ambiguity wherever it enters our lives.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
March, 2015

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February 2015

What Price Achievement?

Two African proverbs put high level wisdom in front of any leader, but particularly those whose responsibilities focus on the young in our society.

  • "It takes a whole village to raise a child".
  • "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

For many years in education the conventional model was a teacher in the front of a classroom, who had to sink or swim in terms of their individual effectiveness with student achievement. Very little individual support was given except in situations which started to get out of control. The idea of a strong, collaborative, collegial approach to achievement outcomes was not necessarily the normal way of operating.

The last twenty years have seen governments, parents and the business community raise their voices and ask the fundamental questions, what price do we place on achievement, not just for the brightest, but for all of our kids? As a society we have come to appreciate and measure the price we pay in lost human potential when youngsters do not succeed at school. It is not always a pretty picture.

Clearly, the answers to this achievement question are very complex, yet they are not insoluble.

There is a simple adage, "If you believe something is possible, this is the first step to achieving it." Most social challenges are soluble when they are subjected to rigorous analysis and measurement. Opportunities can be created and disadvantage cut through and ultimately discounted.

All of this sounds highly aspirational, yet there are increasing nodes of success making their presence felt in many of our schools, where Boards of Trustees, principals, teachers and communities operate as a team analysing what is causing lack of achievement and then collaborate on establishing solutions to the identified issues affecting underachieving students. A range of experiential data now makes it clear that, after a sound analysis of kids learning, the right intervention can save many students.

Such a saving solution is predicated on someone being appointed to work collaboratively with other teachers and co-workers, so negative behaviour is thus broken down and a designed pathway leading to the student's ultimate learning success is formulated and monitored for its effectiveness.

This approach is not rocket science. It is built on the best of systems theory and on the best models the business and scientific community have to offer.

The wisdom of the two African proverbs has real relevance for contemporary education.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
February, 2015

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November 2014

The People's Republic of China

Some interesting statistics about this giant of a nation:

  • 1.35 billion people
  • 54,720 children born everyday
  • 240 million children born every year
  • 21 percent of the world's population
  • 9 percent of the world's arable land
  • (Source NZ Herald, Business Section 27th June 2014)

Information such as this can either excite people or frighten them, depending on what lens they use to view this nation.

Fortunately, successive New Zealand Governments have become actively engaged with the Chinese Government. We were one of the first Western nations to recognize the Mao Zedong regime in the 1960's. In more recent times we led the way in promoting China's membership of the World Trade Organisation and were the first nation to establish a Free Trade Agreement with China, which in a few short years has delivered huge economic benefits for New Zealand.

You may ask, why has the largest nation in the world seen fit to engage one of the smallest ones in the world in developing a productive relationship?

Clearly, economics and trade are major drivers. However, one can also point to our Kiwi trait which endeavours to recognise and respect cultural difference and to rejoice in it, rather than put it down.

This has not always been the case, of course, and from time to time in our history we have done things to people different from the majority of citizens, which have been downright unjust and/or despicable. However, we are quick learners as a nation and that has helped, particularly when we have been prepared to apologise for past misdeeds and to do something about making amends to right past wrongs.

Chinese leaders have long memories and do not easily forget the way many European and other nations mistreated and humiliated China over a long period of time in the nineteenth century.

The lesson from this reflection is that we need to pass onto our children the necessity for treating others, no matter who they are, with respect and dignity. This will win more friends than anything else we do. China need not be seen as the threat since its leaders over the last fifty years have shown great respect to us and have extended the arm of friendship.

It is more than of passing interest that the Right Honourable Helen Clark, while Prime Minister of New Zealand, apologised to Chinese New Zealanders for the very poor manner the New Zealand State behaved towards Chinese people for all of the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th Century.

If peace begins with a smile we are well on the way to sustaining a long productive relationship with the Middle Kingdom.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
November, 2014

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September 2014

Quality is the end game

In recent times the concept of quality has come under greater scrutiny. Grandparents knew all about the term when they told us you get what you pay for. With limited income, our forebears had an eye for what quality looked like.

In more recent times the concept of quality has extended from products to services of various kinds. So we talk of a quality education, quality medical services and, of course, quality commercial services and products.

William Edwards Deming, the father of the quality systems movement, knew a thing or two about creating quality outcomes when he emphasised that these are dependent on attention to detail through every part of the system that delivers a service or a product.

That we very seldom these days buy a new car with numerous defects, as used to be the case, is a tribute to Edwards Deming's insights and systems approach to delivering quality outcomes.

It does not require any great leap of the imagination to develop a philosophy of educational service that has quality outcomes as the end point. What it does require, however, is to have the professional development structures in place, and to enable every person involved in the delivery of the service to know what the final service looks like and what is required of them to play their part in delivering a quality outcome. Sloppy attitudes, lack of initiative and lack of collaboration are the enemies of quality. Likewise, the blame game is a toxic ingredient to delivering quality of any kind. The fresh air of innovation and the steady evolution of quality come from being eager to learn and to always be on the lookout for better ways of doing things.

Leadership that is forward thinking and strategic in its focus will always deliver quality, simply because it is inquisitive and open to change.

Edwards Deming constantly proclaimed that if quality was not being achieved, the system was always more at fault than those making the system work – all worth thinking about!

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
September, 2014

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August 2014

A free and open society

We could all state a priority list of human rights, as they are set out in the United Nations 1948 Declaration of Human Rights.

It can safety be asserted that the core rights include: freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. All of these rights are essential for a free and open society.

The American Revolution and the French Revolution opened international doors to a series of nineteen century revolutions, which had liberty and freedom as central issues for various populations. Clearly, these considerations are still central to today's global citizens, no matter what country they belong to.

For a vibrant democracy to remain free, citizens have to be active in promoting the common good of society, as well as energetically building up the social capital that is indispensable to the wellbeing of everybody.

At rock bottom, it is the promotion of virtue that creates a culture of integrity. This is what society needs to remain free and open, while respecting the rule of law.
It is so easy for a national community to fall apart and implode when the fundamentals that hold it together are not observed – witness today's Syria and Iraq.

Our young people need to be instructed in these matters, and more importantly, to see these ideals practised by their elders.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
August, 2014

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July 2014

Data mining is smart leadership

The July 2014 edition of the Auckland based Metro Magazine again features an analysis of the 2013 NCEA achievements by secondary schools within the Super City boundaries – schools with under 200 students in Yrs 9-13 are excluded. The structural analysis that delivers the achievement figures is not hotly contested.

Again, the stunning success of integrated schools is a feature of the latest analysis. While a number of conclusions can be drawn as to why some schools do dramatically better than others, the importance of data analysis across a spectrum of data fields cannot be easily refuted.

A strong commitment to assembling and analysing data regarding student progress is needed to identify how learning can be improved and to provide the answers to the following questions

  • How can disadvantage be cut through?
  • How can opportunities be created?
  • What needs to be done to drive achievement?

The public of New Zealand are always fascinated by data which measures human behaviours. It is not an idle question to ask what price do we as a school/nation put on achievement or lack of it?

Entrepreneurs and prudent leaders in any setting seek to link needs and opportunities. When the two concepts are brought together energized action occurs.

Very simply, those institutions which are committed to assembling data on the learning outcomes of their students and then analysing it, are at the head of the pack in ensuring their students-clients-customer, are getting a good deal and value for money.

The right sort of data trawling is able to identify what the most helpful intervention ought to be to save an underperforming student from a life in the shadows.

The Metro analysis demonstrates that those schools which are committed to assembling and then using their data productively are the ones who deliver the best value-added achievement outcomes for their young people.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
July, 2014

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June 2014

The importance of the long view

No doubt, it has struck you in recent times that a dramatic shift is taking place internationally in the way people interact with one another. The ICT revolution has become so pervasive that on subway trains and buses in the cities of the world individuals are overwhelmingly connected to their various electronic devices, and very few converse with one another. This phenomenon is neither good nor bad, simply, it is a fact! The internet revolution has succeeded in dramatically altering how we seek out information and how we then use this information in our thinking and decision making processes.

As thinking is a higher order process it is important that as educators we show our students how they can deepen their thinking skills to better advance their own learning. We are all urged constantly to become innovative. This means taking previously disparate ideas and converging them so something new is arrived at. For instance electrical engineering and neuron-science concepts are bringing back limb mobility to previous paraplegics. Our students could benefit from being exercised by more research projects in order to learn more about how innovative ideas are generated.

The business community at its best brings together collaborative teams to problem solve and to create solutions of one kind or another. Think tank behaviour is another way of doing this.

Undergirding all the above is the importance of ensuring there is a strong ethical and values basis for such an approach. It is good to be an innovative individual yet the underpinning of strong social capital is of even greater importance to life success.

Yes, the world is visibly changing around us, and if we are to be able to live together with a reasonable degree of peace and harmony both the innovative skills and the social capital strengths have, of necessity, to go hand in hand.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
June, 2014

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May 2014

Niche Study Zones

Academies have been established in a number of New Zealand secondary schools over the last ten to fifteen years. They vary quite considerably in their focus: sport, entrepreneurship, music, computing, technology, literature, agriculture and the list goes on.

The idea of an academy goes back to the Greek philosopher Plato who gathered a small group of scholars together in order to concentrate on developing knowledge, skill and wisdom around a particular discipline.

A number of our New Zealand Catholic secondary schools for girls established de facto music and choral academies well over 100 years ago. They built a national and international reputation for excellence and many of their students went on to make a public name for themselves.

The question needs to be asked, as knowledge expands exponentially, is our particular school providing any focus in developing a niche study zone so selected students are able to become stand-out individuals who are very knowledgeable about some particular area of study or wisdom?

This idea could be easily migrated to Years 6, 7, 8 in primary schools, since it is at this level that the seeds of intellectual curiosity of young students are becoming bedded in. A number of our primary schools already are going down this track.

The idea of an academy is not new, however it could be rejuvenated and become a feature of New Zealand Catholic schools – it would help strengthen our unique brand of education.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
May, 2014

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April 2014

"Ignorance is the enemy of policy," so asserts Bob Hawke, the former Prime Minister of Australia. There is more than a grain of wisdom in this observation for those who are charged with policy creation and its implementation.

Alan Greenspan, the former United States Federal Reserve Chairman, who presided over the years before the Great Global Recession struck the world in 2008, now confesses that while an analysis of facts and empirical data are fundamental tools of any enterprise, be it a commercial entity or hospital or school, what is of equal importance for decision makers is to endeavour to ascertain the irrational side of human nature in implementing policy. The impact of people's emotions and instincts often plays a more important part in how a policy is rolled out than the hard facts of a situation.

We all have to daily cope with new learning as systems transformation continues to accelerate, and so we also need to reflect on Bob Hawke's assertion, if we are going to take people with us in navigating policy change. After all, people are increasingly educated and wish to control their lives as best they can. They also want their human dignity to be respected at work, at home and in society generally.

Effectively, all of the above comes down to recognising the importance of Emotional Quotient in our relationship with others. The Chief of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Adrian Orr, is of the view that leaders are better able to implement policy if they ensure their approach to people is based on their own self-awareness, humour and humility, all of which are strong manifestations of a developed Emotional Quotient. This in turn recognises the instinctive and emotional dimensions of human nature.

In the end there is no guarantee of any proper action simply because a policy or responsibility is written down in a job description. Along with analysis of data, reading human nature's instinctive responses to a particular situation is vital if policy settings are to be carried out.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
April, 2014

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March 2014

A Simple Solution

An expert who researches what works in educating youngsters makes the distinction between student engagement in their education and school-wide disengagement with its students. Research by the Quaglia Institute indicates what most of us know, that when student engagement, broadly described, occurs, students do well in their learning.

Recent education surveys in the United States of America across a broad spectrum of students, administrators, parents and teachers, all come down on the side of the importance of relationships and connectedness as being the foundations and structure of student success. (The 45th annual PDK Gallop Poll of the Public's Attitude towards Public Schools)

While it may be tiresome at one level, gaining as much data from students/parents about how things are going for a student at school, is a reputable way of determining student attitudes towards their education experience.

Administrators and teachers often think that things are going well within a class or school, when in fact, there could be a lot of disenchantment about aspects of what is occurring at a very simple, yet fundamental level. The following is of great importance to young people eg. teachers knowing student names; teachers having high expectations of success; caring about student health and well-being; knowing something about student dreams and aspirations, as well as about their family connections. All of the above are indicators about a school's engagement with its young people.

While adults can sometimes sail through their work place responsibilities without much about them being known by others, young people have a deep need to be connected, valued and loved – all fundamental dimensions in a successful education. Trustees, principals and teachers all may have some big questions to ask in this area of their responsibilities to enable their young people to achieve in a supportive environment.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
March, 2014

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February 2014

Making the improbable possible

Ideas challenge. That is why the constant reading of something new is, amongst other experiential situations, the main way we challenge ourselves, learn something new and make connections with the knowledge we have acquired. Without new ideas, often from unusual sources, we go stale and become very predictable.

In education, if teachers and students are enabled to operate in a positive school climate and culture, they will have an excellent chance of doing well in their learning.

You may ask what are the main elements of a positive school culture? Reputable research in the United States cites the following: feelings of safety among staff and students; supportive relationships within the school; engagement and empowerment of students; teachers who are clearly valued; clear rules and boundaries that guide behaviour and are well understood by everyone; high expectations for academic achievement and appropriate behaviour; trust, respect, and an ethos of caring for others. (Education Leadership p26 September, 2013)

Linked to the above is a commitment in the school to graduating resilient students who are hope-filled.

Clearly a school's culture has to foster the ingredients that build resilient personalities through the way staff interact with individual students and through the expectations and challenges they put in front of their charges on a day to day basis.

Hopeful students are excited about the future. This translates into enthusiasm for life and the opportunities it provides. Hope buoys our spirits and energises us.

In our Integrated Schools hope is found in the special character dimension of the culture we create in our schools. In the final analysis the inspiration provided by the adults in the school delivers resilience, hope and students hungry for learning.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
February, 2014

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November 2013

Collaboration and alliances are the engines of the 21st century

Former United States President, Bill Clinton, was quoted recently as saying, "I have long believed that building networks of creative co-operation among governments, the private sector and non-profits is the key to overcoming the challenges both great and small of our newly interdependent world." Not too many people would disagree with this assessment about how the world is able to chip away at the myriad of challenges it faces.

Distance has been killed in our technological age as ideas, human creativity and wealth are spread around with greater ease. We have come to realise that individuals and groups become stronger and more effective if they collaborate and build alliances with others.

As technology constantly swallows low level and repetitive jobs, educators and the business community are faced with the question: how do they encourage and harness creativity and in the process strengthen their organisations?
The service sector, with its emphasis on providing all sorts of opportunities for people to spend their time and money, is generally strengthened when it works within networks and alliances, reflecting the adage that one of us is never as strong as all of us.

It behoves all of us to devour as much information as we can about as many diverse issues as we are able to digest. Making connections with others outside of our normal silos of operation is the trigger for coming up with creative ideas, which then can be put into action by ourselves or others.

When our young people come to understand that creativity is the oil that builds networks and reaches out to strengthen collaborative behaviour, they will know they are winning and so will we.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
November, 2013

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October 2013

The Power of Uplifting Expectations In An Organisation

It is a truism that schools are about young people, in much the same way hotels are about guests and airlines are about moving passengers from one airport to another.
Without an absolute commitment to the requirements of a student, a client, or a customer, in what is provided by a particular organization, the services provided will predictably fall short of quality benchmark outcomes.

What is it about successful providers who deliver quality services? One quickly comes to the conclusion that organisations having a clear mission objective, which is translated into a set of high expectations for success, these are the ones who deliver the goods. This is not simplistic thinking. If a school's culture is one of high expectations for student success, success will normally follow in student achievement results. When high standards are set and rigorously enforced, guess what? Standards are reached! Low expectations and lack of attention to detail are killers of high outcomes.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company has as its mission statement, "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen". This statement of expectations has delivered numerous quality awards for the company and plenty of people booking into the hotel chain.

Adults know the reality of high expectations from the life experiences they have had as customers or clients. They know what poor customer service looks like as well.
So coming back to the schools. It is easy to dismiss the experience of organisations outside of education as not relevant to student achievement. Just look at some of our District Health Boards that serve some of the poorest people in the country, yet they exceed the nationally set benchmarks for service and positive outcomes.
Those schools whose trustees, principals and teachers are rigorously committed to success and adopt a no excuses approach to their students within innovative support structures – they are the stand-out performers. What is more, as a nation we are getting to know where these schools are and why they are succeeding They are proving the conventional wisdom dead wrong.

For any organisation, when its leadership and staff are passionately committed to delivering a quality set of experiences for their students, clients, patients or customers, success mostly follows.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
October, 2013

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September 2013

A Matter of Honour

"It is a matter of honour that I carry out what I am committing myself to". When was the last time you heard anything remotely connected with this sentiment? The odds are you cannot recall. Our society is the poorer for its loss of this concept in our day to day interaction with one another.

Honour is characterised by respect and good name. One of the last vestiges of the concept is the way members of the judiciary are addressed in recognition that they are honourable people performing an honourable role in oiling the wheels of justice and the right ordering of behaviour between individuals. The other sliver of reference to honourable behaviour is the quaint title accorded to individuals who either are, or have been, members of the Government's executive i.e. Cabinet. They are properly referred to as The Honourable….

There is a lot to be said for forming young people so they have some appreciation of a personal Code of Honour. This would involve teaching the importance of virtuous behaviour and values, which recognises the sacredness of individuals.

While post-modern society emphasizes human rights, what it seldom does not teach are the behaviours of civility, courteousness and plain good manners, where one puts others before oneself.

We all have had the experience of adults deplaning where the rush to get out can leave one reeling in the aircraft's aisle, as one struggles to stay on one's feet avoiding boorish behaviour – hardly very honourable.

We educate youngsters so they are able to graduate from our schools as well rounded individuals. However, when we see examples of sports people behaving badly and certainly not acting honourably, we need to consider becoming very overt in acquainting students with what it means to act honourably. Clearly, this can be done in a variety of innovative and didactic ways, so students are in no doubt as to what honourability looks like in practice.

In embarking on an initiative like this, we will be contributing significantly to the right ordering of society at a time when not too many people think about the importance of the concept of being honourable.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
September, 2013

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August 2013

Courageous Leadership

Over the last twenty years there has been a decided shift in the conventional wisdom about what effective leadership is all about. Gone are the days when decision making was totally held by one individual who consulted rarely and operated on the premise, "I am the boss and therefore you'll do as I say".

Leadership today is much more consultative and collaborative. It is distributive acknowledging that people in an enterprise will normally have something of value to add to the decision making process. For a long time in human history leadership resided within an authoritarian model where fear was often a major motivator.

Post-modern work places require leaders and managers to have an Emotional Quotient of a high order, where emotions and poor behavior reflecting a selfish attitude are seldom prevalent.

Leaders who excel, propose change, listen to their feedback loop, give attention to sustaining sound systems, attend to detail and are committed to ongoing and constant improvement. At the same time they are not afraid of decision making and recognize that being bold is part of making progress and not stagnating.

Leaders commit themselves to high standards and expectations, do not subscribe to conspiracy theories and are not afraid to have courageous conversations with everyone in their team, particularly when high standards and high expectations are not being delivered.

In a school setting a Board of Trustees and Principal have to be the guardians of each student's future -no day ought to be wasted for any spurious reason.

Leaders are responsible for keeping their eye on the goals their organization has set. Student achievement can never take a second place to any other consideration.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
August, 2013

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July 2013

What has the last twenty years taught us about what works in education?

There are few silver bullets in this life that automatically will bring about desired results. They are generally limited to the world of mechanics, biology and physics.

Whenever the development of human beings is the centre of any equation we have to be guided by the wisdom of the ages and the experience of successful professionals.

Schooling used to be deemed successful if graduates could remember a lot information and leave school as literate and numerate individuals, while having some sound learning skills and attitudes.

School reports often stated the obvious, did not tell parents very much they didn't already know and frequently students were blamed for not engaging in their studies.

Today international experience and research has come down strongly on the side of the process of learning, being more important than anything else.

Central to this is the vital importance of parental involvement in achieving academic success.  Today's youngsters come from very diverse domestic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, which are often very different from the culture of a school.  Unless parents and caregivers are overtly welcomed into their child's school and are clearly valued by the administrators and teachers, there is a little to be gained from preaching the value of diversity if it is not encouraged and valued in practice.

Sometimes, while well intentioned, schools may not always examine and reflect on the deficit attitudes and practices they might engage in unwittingly, thus putting off both students and parents.

Migrant children and ethnic minority children are different in so many ways, and if they feel alienated or not really valued by the adults in their school their achievement is likely not to be great.

Our Integrated schools try to place significant emphasis on the spiritual, values and philosophical dimensions of what they offer as they seek to better engage and excite their students about their learning.  This is commendable, yet the question remains:  are we asking the right questions about why some of our students are not achieving at higher levels?

Maybe a greater emphasis on mining all the data we now have available, and a focus on, 'what if', questions, would help deliver better outcomes for each and every one of our kids.

After all, if we ask the right questions, we can change the world.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
July, 2013

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June, 2013

Ideas change the world and change lives

While walking the streets and the malls of any urban or country area, reading the messages on young people's tee shirts is generally an educative experience.

Messages range from the sublime and inspirational to the ridiculous and sometimes worse.  A common set of messages platform off,"you can change the world' theme.  If ever this possibility exists for any individual, today's technology structures and opportunities could not be more conducive for this to occur, as witness the success of the various social media apps that keep emerging, often designed  by someone under 25 years of age.

There is no doubt that fortune favours the bold, this in turn is predicated on individuals drawing on diverse sources of knowledge.  At the same time partnering and collaborating with others outside of one's normal spheres of interest and relationships is the catalyst for innovation and creativity.

It is of interest that siloed professional behaviour is rapidly giving way to reaching out to other professional groups in sharing knowledge and experiences, which bring enriched outcomes.

Thus medicine and science, engineering and technology, systems management and manufacturing, all now realise each needs the other.

Education is no different – that is why school boards of trustees are so valuable in running a school along with the teaching professionals.  The mixture of experiences and skills is enriching for all involved.

We all suffer from time to time believing that we are mostly right, most of the time.   President Abraham Lincoln observed, "Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man's character give him power."  Any form of believing, "I know it all", inevitably breeds mistakes.  In today's world if we are to make a difference for good in people's lives, and, yes change the world, a dose of humility, which focuses on listening to those we serve, will never go amiss.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
June, 2013

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May 2013

The School Experience

The millennial generation is quite sophisticated.  Generally they know what they want and when it comes to their children, they want to know that any school they seek to enrol their children in, is in fact, a "good school."  This all begs the question, what is a good school?

Effectively, a good school is the sum of the parts of the experience students have while at their school on a daily basis i.e. the school's culture.  It encompasses all that the students define as important.  Hence values, behaviours and traditions, along with what is accepted as normal behaviour by the majority.

A school's culture, if left unmonitored, can become quite toxic.  Effectively it needs to be deliberately crafted, influenced and improved upon on a constant basis. 

School leaders, both staff and students, need to work together on positive improvement strategies.  The powers of persuasion, expectation and the setting of high standards are the parameters within which a good school culture becomes a great school culture.  Involving students in shaping their school's culture in the myriad ways students and staff interact with one another is part of the genius in constantly improving what goes on.

A school culture can inhibit or encourage students; it can enable a student to feel welcome or intimidated and it can encourage or inhibit achievement, depending on whether students feel engaged with their school experience or not.  There is no silver bullet to sustain a good school.  However, if principals and staff are not really vigilant in constantly taking the pulse of a school's culture, negativity and toxicity can easily rear their ugly heads, which quickly can turn a good school into one which the millennium generation will avoid.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
May, 2013

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April 2013

Our Culture – The way we do things

We all speak with an accent, although no one realizes it until they hear people
from other places and countries speaking in the way they were brought up.

The same applies to schools businesses and a whole range of other organizations – we all have a culture which is what we are immersed in.

We often don't realize we have a particular work culture until we encounter others in different settings to our own. We are attracted to some of what we see and not so attracted to to other aspects of what we encounter when it comes to making adjustments to the way we do things that is often where the rub occurs.

Some individuals take to change like ducks to water – most of us however need to be persuaded that what we are asked to do by way of change is going to be better than what we are already familiar with.

How often have you been confronted with an English speaker who effectively is speaking in a dialect? It is not easy to get on the wave length of such individuals.

The reality of the world is that cultures are diverse and rich. Those individuals who create strong international and strong local networks are the ones who are open to building bridges that connect people. It is said that the late Senator Edward Kennedy had an uncanny ability to reach across the aisle of the USA Senate and persuade some of his Republican colleagues to agree to do things they might not have ordinarily agreed to.

In our schools and other work places altering our work culture to others who different and learning form them is an indispensable recipe for improving our own work place culture – otherwise we may simply be stuck with our own accent and not realize the richness that is around us.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
April, 2013

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March 2013

Why Nations and Enterprises Fail

Hope is a deeply personal and spiritual attribute.  It persuades those who possess it to long term improvement of peoples.  Optimism is a related attitude which leads to action. Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Noam Chomsky remarks;   "Unless you believe the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it." The women of India in January 2013 made it clear they will no longer accept being second class citizens in their own nation.  They are demanding attitudinal change from their men towards them.

Nations and institutions will ultimately fail if they do not welcome innovation and the ideas of newcomers, who often bring elements of "creative destruction" to improve the outcomes of those they serve.   Overcoming sources of resistance from vested interests and elites is fundamental in bringing about improvements and better ways of doing things.  Effectively, if nations and institutions do not constantly reinvent themselves they are doomed to mediocrity or ultimately failure.  History is replete with examples of this, however, many other nations and institutions have been successful in initiating change, which inevitably brings about reinvigoration and well-being.

Steering institutional change is fraught with challenges for leaders.  Examples of current international black spots include Egypt, Libya, Spain, Greece and Syria.  With crippling unemployment rates and civil unrest breaking out, as the case may be, the cause of such situations  often goes back several years when bad decisions were made, or in some cases, no decisions were made at all, when bold change would have averted negative consequences.

Successful societies and institutions demonstrate they are able to bridge gaps.  Too much silo behaviour militates against productive dialogue, which is needed to engender reinvigoration and the sustaining of dynamism.

Collective leadership results in a cohesive group of people working towards a common goal or a common purpose.  Certainly, decency, goodness and determination are vital ingredients that will help to ensure institutional success. 

Added to this is a good dose of energetically getting on with what needs to be done, while leaving the moaners and groaners behind.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
March, 2013

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February 2013

Making a difference in our world

"Education is a fundamental human right, not a product. In a free society education is based on a common faith in the incalculable value of every human being", so wrote William Ayes, a prominent American citizen, when congratulating President Barrack Obama on his 2012 re-election to the Presidency of the United States of America.

Education in a democracy emphasises: initiative, thinking, courage, imagination and the teaching of fundamental virtues. It focuses on both individual and communal wellbeing.  In order to engender educational success individuals need to be led in the direction of embracing responsibility for themselves and for others, as best they are able to do so. Responsibility indicates a capacity to respond to the evolving realities one is confronted with. This is not just a set of family or local  responsibilities, but global ones as well.

Despite lofty sounding purposes, people are not prompted into action unless they are convinced of the worth of what they are being asked to do. Only sincere engagement ultimately brings about sustained positive action.

We often get bogged down in debates about leadership and management. Warren Buffett is right when he says, "The best leaders I know are both leaders and managers."  He is right!!

The fundamental role of leadership and management is getting things done, and done well. This means being organised, dedicated, efficient with systems and ideally operating with some spark and flair.

At rock bottom inspiration and engagement are the frameworks that enable productive change and betterment to occur in the lives of others. Being open to ideas and practices of others and keeping a look out for innovative ideas and practices wherever they are to be found, will ultimately enable each of us to make a difference for good in the world.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
February, 2013

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November 2012

Standing up and being counted is fundamental to leadership.  It was the Austrian philosopher, Ivan Illich (1926-2002), who urged that we must never fear being a "candle in the dark", or as the Chinese proverb so aptly states, "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

In like manner, Saint-Exupéry wrote, "What saves a person is to take a step.  Then another step.  It is always the same step, but you have to take it… Only the unknown frightens people.  But once a person has faced the unknown, that terror becomes the known."

When the philosopher William James (1842-1910) undertook an investigation of the survivors of the earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906, he noted that when people were able to share their experiences, there was a perceptible difference in their sense of suffering and loss.  Even if such sharing does not immediately translate into the ability to move forward, it can encourage people steeped in pain to look to the future.

As the year comes to a close it is appropriate to thank you for the leadership you have shown during 2012 at whatever level in our Integrated school system.  Nothing happens without leadership.

The longer vacation period is a time to recharge our leadership batteries by resting and renewing our spirits.  Leadership is generated in the depths of our spirit.  May 2013 be another year where we confront the status quo and make appropriate changes to better the lives of those we serve.

Appreciation is expressed to you for your hard work and dedication during 2012.  Happy Holiday.

 

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
November, 2012

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October 2012

Solid Foundations

Fundamentally, our thoughts are what make us who we are.  They determine how we interact with others, for better or for worse.

Drilling down further into this idea is the core of who we are.  This is the realm of our ideas, or more broadly our personal philosophy and spirituality.

Too many post moderns are not good thinkers, because real thinking is hard work and not for the superficial or faint hearted.  Sound logical thought processes are predicated or imbibing from rich information well-springs from a variety of sources

This process in turn enables true personal leadership to emerge, even though it might be frightening.  When you think about it Victoria Crosses (VC’s) are won by the Willy Apiata’s of this world, because they harness the energy of fear and transform it into courage and action.

Most of us will never have to face VC awarding circumstances, however, many of us will enhance the lives of those around us if we have clear ideas that become our energy drivers.

Refining the above ideas during our life’s journey will enable us to become more effective as we endeavour to take our personal aspirational ideas and put them into effect.

Leadership is ultimately driven by emotional quotient, put simply, ideas, altruism and faith – all of which spell spiritual capital.

 

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
October, 2012

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September 2012

Those engaged in education, educate for freedom - it is the greatest liberator.  Teachers and trustees are fundamentally engaged in an exercise of meaning, as they work with their students and their families.

By shaping the lives of students, educators are seekers after truth.  They love goodness, appreciate beauty and courageously foster the freedom essential for a productive and satisfying life for their charges.

For the above to effectively occur the building of personal relationships is clearly the framework for successful learning.  The goal of this exercise is to enable a teacher to earn the respect of her/his students, so engagement in learning is more readily achieved.  This involves coming to know the student.  Student involvement in their learning is more likely to occur when teachers carefully share a part of themselves, which can show students that a teacher is willing to open themselves up, and invite students into their lives.  Such sharing could involve exciting, humourous, meaningful or even humbling and embarrassing stories from the present or past, that are at least loosely related to the learning areas in question.

No matter what the method is, developing personal relationships with students is always a win-win situation.  Teachers are role models.   They are able to influence students in a positive way, while increasing their motivation, confidence and well being.

Setting students up on the pathway to success is an admirable way to make a difference for good in the world.

 
Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
September, 2012

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August 2012

Our Response To The World’s Geopolitical Shift

Over the last two decades, what was initially an imperceptible shift in the geopolitical centre of the world, has now become a blazingly perceptible fact.  The Asia-Pacific region is not only home to nearly two thirds of the world’s population, it is has become the market centre for world trading.  The annual APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) group meetings over many years have given birth to a series of bilateral and multi-lateral agreements, which have emerged in recent years.  These have been the catalysts for this evolving geopolitical shift.

So what is education’s place in this gigantic illustration of globalisation at work?  Competition, diversity and alliances are the rails on which New Zealanders will operate as they participate in the Asia-Pacific’s growth and development.  While knowledge and skills are the burgeoning currency of the region, ethical and collaborative behaviours are the life blood of participation and growth.

The New Zealand school curriculum is at the leading edge of what is needed for our citizens to become even more respected players in this new world.  It needs to be remembered that pivotal skills of all kinds are internationally marketable and sought after.  New Zealand is part of a race for brain and skill powers, where relationships, money, persuasiveness and power ultimately talk.

Therefore, the performance of all schools is critically important in order to mitigate social and educational disadvantage of students, while keeping in focus the salient long term consideration for each student’s wellbeing.

 
Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
August, 2012

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July 2012

How Determined Are We?

A visit to almost any country in Asia quickly forces New Zealanders, and westerners generally, come to the conclusion that collectively we are regarded as a little soft and a little on the lazy and fun loving side of life. A knee-jerk reaction to this perception can hide a reality which is creeping over the western world. Asians are hungry for the many goods and services we take for granted, as well as for the life style the majority of our citizens enjoy. They are prepared to engage their prodigious work ethic to get ahead. Nobody in their right mind advocates mind and body numbing, grinding work to get ahead, However, what we cannot afford to let happen is to allow the current young generation to sit on their laurels and hope that they will be able to enjoy the good life without working hard.

Hunger for success, setting aspirational goals, pushing the boundaries, looking out for others, being bold and not lulled into a sense of false security make up the fundamental scaffolding all New Zealanders require. We once had these characteristics, but today they are not so evident in our society, since they have become eroded.

Einstein spoke of the importance of imagination over knowledge, yet do we see this expansiveness in our young people? Does the importance of developing a strong work ethic resonate in the way it could?

The reality of the globalised world is that nobody owes us a living. Those who are curious and enthusiastic will be able to learn how to learn in a dramatic fashion, since they will be self starters, innovators, movers and shakers.

Those families and schools that see the importance of student right-brain development as the driver for the characteristics that produce leaders and individuals who make things happen, they will be the ones who will strengthen New Zealand society. While the various faces of technology will be the tools, the human spirit is the engine room that largely will make things happen. We are part of the Asia-Pacific community of nations. Learning from our Asian neighbours is a sine qua non, if we are not to be left behind.

 
Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
July, 2012

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June 2012

The Power of Persuasion and influence

Historically, the nature of influence and persuasion has dramatically evolved over the last one hundred and fifty years. Gone are the days when a leader stood before a crowd and simply bellowed in order to communicate with those he wished to influence. Today influence has never been easier to engage in, given the spectrum of communication devices available for use.

We are living in a transformative age where change and influence can emerge from unlikely sources. A posting on You Tube, Twitter or Facebook can rapidly become world news and change people’s lives.

The harnessing of the Internet as a significant tool for communication and influence is something leaders need to develop a strategy about. While some dismiss the power of blogs and emails to influence others, such an attitude is too dismissive.

The power of an idea, the power of images and the power of a story, along with the wrap-around coating of inspiration, these are still the fundamentals of influence in today’s world.

While people in the Middle Ages thought influence emanated from the stars in the form of a magic liquid to influence human behaviour, we now have a rather different understanding of what skills and talents are needed to touch the minds and hearts of people we might be seeking to influence or persuade. 21st century technology can be a great gift in the hands of inspirational leaders. We ought to be bold in using its various manifestations.

 
Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
June, 2012

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May 2012

Resting On Our Laurels Is Not An Option

Enterprises, educational institutions and nations that demonstrate a hunger and energy for achievement are the ones that are at the leading edge of change and development in today’s world. Witness the likes of South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan as countries in this category.  Commercial examples readily come to mind, while a list of stand-out education leaders could easily be formulated as well.

Big Blue (IBM) is a good example of an enterprise that nearly lost its way when it did not see the potential of the personal computer (PC) the company had invented and its ability to change the way people do things. Today the company is back to its leadership position, simply because it re-invented itself to meet the evolving needs of enterprise.

It is so easy to sink into a mode of comfort which does not recognise the ever-changing realities of the world around us. This is dangerous! Every institution or leader needs to be hungry for new information and to constantly scan the horizon for new ideas and innovations.

No particular ethnic group has a monopoly on the hunger for achievement. Achievers simply work hard in a smart way and do the hard graft.  They have a mind set and build a structure that is committed to review and renewal on a constant basis. They establish a culture where new ideas are welcome and are actively sought out. They interact with ideas and people from diverse settings and backgrounds. Organisations that are open to diversity and see diversity as a strength, are the ones least likely to sink into a culture of cruising along, which over time sows the seed of ultimate decline.

Business consultants today talk about the realities of VUCA, an acronym describing the reality of the twin influences of globalisation and technology as: volatility, unpredictability, complexity and ambiguity.  These words frighten many individuals, though they describe the realities of our world, even as we experience it in New Zealand.

Our schools, no matter how well they are achieving, will sink beneath the waves of the volatility of these influences, if leaders in schools and classrooms do not constantly burnish their leadership styles and respond in a coherent, strategic way to today’s realities.

Reviewing, updating and adapting are the keys to progress. These processes will ensure we are faithful to the spiritual and human values which are the basis of why we have special character schools.

 

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
May, 2012

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April 2012

Harnessing the Evidence of Dramatic Change Occurring before our Very Eyes

New Zealand's overall productivity, economic growth and Gross Domestic Product, while good, are not in the advanced class when compared with those nations which are at the top of these indicators. Definitely we rank highly in other desirable international indicators such as well being of the population, lack of corruption and being a desirable place to live.

In considering our "can do better" indicators, a look at the rapidly changing ethnic composition of the nation's population reveals that the possibilities and potential of the burgeoning Maori, Pacific Island and Asian components of the school aged population, particularly in the upper half of the North Island, are quite extraordinary. Well over 50% of the nation's under-18 year olds are from these groups. The question has to be asked, where are these groups represented among the entrepreneurs and leaders of a range of groups that make things happen?

Another area to ponder is the dramatic technological, services industry, scientific and nanotechnology revolutions that are changing the way we interact with the world. In these areas individual New Zealanders are doing cutting edge work. We can ask, how can we leverage off this?

If entrepreneurship is the energy source of the post modern world, we need to understand that not only is it a state of mind, it is about doing something creative and/or productive. Leaders at every level of society have the responsibility to place this expectation before young people, wising them up to the importance of improving their own lives and the lives of those around them. As President Obama often says, "Poverty is not a destiny and neither is it inevitable". We could also replace the "she'll be right" attitude and lift the level of our productive outputs.

Fortunately large numbers of integrated schools realise that by building a school culture that is predicated on spiritual values, high expectations and hope, all children can make a success of their lives and contribute to the well-being of New Zealand. While intellectual values are vital, even more important are the values that enable things to be done and to happen.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
April, 2012

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March 2012

Simple Answers Are Not Always Easy To Come By

Individuals and groups of people can easily assert that the sun is the moon, or vice versa, yet the reality of the two celestial bodies does not change.

Group thinking has become a fact of life in many areas of human discourse, where the uninformed, the superficial and the sound-bite grabbers promote ideas which are often only partially true, yet masquerade as fact. We have long known that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and that the unexamined life is not worth living.

To be an informed person presupposes one is a seeker after knowledge and truth. In order to contribute to the development of our communities and people generally, facts must be linked to good judgement, reasonableness, boldness and longer term strategic thinking.

A lot of talk-back radio has got the reputation for superficiality and for forthright views rather than being courageous conversations, where the participants are open to learning something from others.

The new world of rich, readily available information gives us the opportunity to examine and reflect on the many assertions people make, which are often simply false or only partially true. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people could use the information at their disposal to make life more productive for others and to aid the betterment of human kind, rather than the reverse.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
March, 2012

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February 2012

Effective Leadership

In recent times the importance of leadership in an organisation has emerged again as a hot topic of discussion. Consensus, which can result in the establishment of the lowest common denominator between competing parties, has been proven, too often, to be a recipe for mediocrity.

There is no doubt the energy of inspiration ultimately determines the progress and vitality of an organisation. Linked to inspiration is the pivotal importance of trust in the relationship between leaders and those they seek to collaborate with.

The presence of trust in a relationship enables practical steps to be taken to advance an organisation’s goals.  At rock bottom, trust is generated when genuine efforts are made by leaders to honour the spirit of their words. Trust breeds confidence in the intention and actions of leaders.

The American Founding Fathers proclaimed, “In God we trust”. They also knew that without trust, nobody can stand, since trust is the intangible, yet real glue of growth and development in organisations and between individuals. Fundamental to trust is leaders possessing values which reflect sound ethics.

As some international media figures have found in recent months, authority is built on trust, and without it leadership simply becomes false and laughable.

Whatever our particular leadership role in life, may we never forget that people can always be persuaded to join leaders who are inspirational and trustworthy, then great things happen!

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
February, 2012

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December 2011

Common International Standards

The emphasis on quality standards in New Zealand is part of an international awareness of the value of establishing acceptable benchmarks.  People throughout the world, including the remote parts of Africa and Asia, are raising their voices and boldly stating that they want living standards which reflect those of any developed nation. Do we blame them? Clearly the answer is ‘No’. Many would say it is part of their legitimate quest to enjoy the dignity of being  human.

The standards movement has been around for a long time. The League of Nations, formed after World War One, was the first international organisation to govern aviation, seafaring and labour practices, amongst other things. Of course, the United Nations over the last fifty years has greatly expanded the setting of standards at the behest of its member states. These have occurred in a huge number of areas, including information technology,  communications, science, shipping, aviation, conduct of war, food, medicine, monetary policy, finance and trade.  The point about standards is that they generally focus on good practice, and, if a jurisdiction hasn’t reached them, at least it knows what it is able to aspire to.

Globalisation, and the strong international trend towards co-operation is stimulating a re-think about standards in a whole range of areas. No jurisdiction has a monopoly on enlightenment. If its citizens are to prosper in a very competitive world they need to know what international good practice looks like. They then are better able to aspire to achieve it. The penny is also dropping that collaboration and alliance creation are the hard wiring of the 21st century. The experience of the United Nations and its subsidiary organisations e.g. WHO, UNESCO, UNICEF, is that it takes intense debate to develop agreed standards of good practice. Once they are in place there always needs to be a process of regular  review to ensure they are kept up to date and are relevant to changing times.

International standards are aspirational and if sought after will strengthen our nation as a member of the global community. 

I wish you well for the Christmas Season and thank you for your dedicated involvement on behalf of our Integrated Schools.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
December, 2011

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October 2011

Wide Eyed Idealism Does Carry The Day

Who would have thought that 2011 would be such a rocky year for the world? Yet this is exactly how it is turning out.

The Arab world's awakening; the continued aftershocks of the Great Recession; civil disorder in some European countries and fractured politics in various democracies are all illustrations that humanity is on a journey as it seeks better prospects for itself.

A quick reflection on the post World War 11 era leads one to conclude, through a myriad of examples, that oppressed peoples in almost every continent of the world have sought to take charge of their own destinies and have succeeded. Often violence has accompanied this quest, yet the desire for freedom is the common denominator in each instance.

History teaches us to hope, simply because oppression in its various forms never endures. It is always overthrown because the human spirit is strong and liberty is a precious gift prized by every human being.

While the United Nations is not always the most efficient of organisations, it has often provided the inspiration and support to enable oppressed people to become free and develop a democracy of one kind or another. Government by the people, for the people sounds trite, yet it is an enduring truth which people are prepared to die for, as we have been seeing this year through our media feeds.

In this new century it is opportune to examine our attitudes to see if we are in fact internationalists at heart. Internationalists, because each human being is sacred and many are simply unable to adequately help themselves, despite their deep desire for freedom. Giving them a helping hand, in whatever way we can, is an obligation we have to each of them.

The founding statement of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said it all in 1946 when it was founded. "It is in the minds of men (sic) that wars begin, so it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed." This piece of inspiration is as relevant today as it was in 1946.

So, as the year moves along on its rocky journey, it behoves each of us to be grateful for the liberty we experience and recognise that it is a delicate flower which must always be nourished for it to flourish.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
October, 2011

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September 2011

Amnesia – What Amnesia?

Pope Benedict XVl, at the World Youth Day gathering recently held in Spain, suggested that many people in today’s world seem to have suffered amnesia in relation to God in their lives. One is left wondering how increasing numbers of individuals frame personal answers to the weighty soul-shaking questions, like “To what end do we as humans live?” to quote Paul Tillich. Tillich went on to say that “It is through religious beliefs that one unleashes a vitality which is the power of creating beyond oneself.”

Fortunately, globalisation and the social media phenomenon, in particular, are both emerging as forces for good in bringing to the notice of humankind issues associated with individuals and groups of individuals, particularly where these groups are downtrodden or suffering injustice. These issues exercise most individuals.

Part of the problem Pope Benedict is focusing on has to do with stimulating the post modern world’s interest in the spiritual dimension of our humanity – a sense of the spiritual more readily leads on to religious beliefs and is a significant motivation for altruistic behaviour.

In our first world country we have to better face up to the imperative of the responsibilities associated with our privileged position in the world. Progress is made with any weighty question when individuals are prepared to engage in courageous conversation, whatever the topic happens to be.

We often forget that human energy is a dramatic and real form of capital. Energy is dynamic, driven by an insatiable hope. In turn, hope is fundamentally the fruit of a belief in God, as the author of life. Fortunately, hope is not an island and is contagious when its fruits are apparent in people’s lives.

Since we are all made in the image of God, maybe it will be through the manifestations of hope in the world that the amnesia Pope Benedict spoke about will turn into courageous conversations and a flowering of positive belief in the reality and goodness of God as the author of creation.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
September, 2011

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August 2011

Cultural Capital

The 20th century world witnessed a range of political systems from extreme dictatorships, through to free market capitalism, socialism and communism.

The 21st century is currently witnessing rebellions which may lead to the triumph of liberty and democracy in its various forms. The latest part of the world to experience this is the Middle East and North Africa. Sovereign jurisdictions that are successful societies have evolved and continue to evolve a balance between the development of strong social capital and economic structures that are wealth creating. At the same time, they ensure there are systems in place that focus on the common good of citizens.

To enable a coherent sovereign jurisdiction to emerge, leaders at various levels in a society have to build a consensus on what a nation stands for, how it is going to look after its most vulnerable, and at the same time, it has to work out how it is going to enable its best and brightest to use their intelligence and energy to promote economic growth, innovation and support the well-being of the entire citizenry.

In the era of globalisation, where human capital and financial capital are fluid and flow across borders very easily, leaders need to be thinkers and persuaders. A society's well-being fundamentally depends on leadership that is ultimately committed to enabling its people to be healthy, happy and free.

All of this sounds heavy and complex. However, we all know that inspiring leadership that is in touch with its constituency will always manage to deliver a coherent vibrant society. There are many contemporary examples of where this occurs. By looking over any fence, we can always learn something from our neighbour both locally and internationally.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
August, 2011

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July 2011

Persuasive Leadership

The exercise of effective leadership has evolved over the last twenty five years. It has gone from a relatively authoritarian, 'do as I say' approach, to a style which is more persuasive in its operation.

One of the drivers of this change has been the heightened level of educational achievement amongst the population. Educated people are less inclined to follow orders and prefer to think for themselves given the evidence in front of them. Equally, they are open to reasonable solutions to the challenges they face, as well as having a disposition to be persuaded about the rightness and appropriateness of a proposal.

Leadership at essence is an exercise of influence, which is based on the personal credibility of a leader. In turn, trust and confidence in the leader is of equal importance.

Successful organisations in the 21st century thrive on encouraging initiative and leadership at all levels of the enterprise. Equally, those who are in designated leadership positions move things along by exercising their authority in political, persuasive and strategic ways. The common recipe for today's successful leadership is a commitment to review and change, which in turn focuses on structural change.

Successful leaders whether in schools or elsewhere, continuously scan the environment looking out for cues and ideas, which ultimately will improve what is delivered by the organisation for its clients, whoever they happen to be.

To change is to inspire, to thrive and to grow.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
June, 2011

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June 2011

Civility – The Oil of Society

Globilisation is having the effect of mixing up a wide range of people from various ethnicities and sovereign states. This is actively occurring in New Zealand society as well as in many large urban settings of the world. People, are different from each other. When they rub shoulders, either in public settings or in other interactions, there is always a capability for negative behaviour to occur.

Nobody is born to hate or to dislike others. Unfortunately, children learn negative attitudes and behaviours for a variety of reasons, which in turn contribute to the weakening of the norms of civil behaviour. This can become exacerbated when cultural differences rub together as societies become more diverse.

Civil behaviour is fundamental for the smooth functioning of a society. Too many people sometimes forget that discourteous and impolite behaviour is unacceptable, particularly in crowded situations where individuals are in close proximity to one another.

In order to strengthen the bonds of civic behaviour, children and young people need to be taught by their elders what is acceptable and what is not in relating to others. This means stating the ordinary norms of courtesy and politeness.

Irrespective of whether one belongs to any faith, philosophical persuasion or none of these, there is no excuse for impolite, loud or pushy behaviour. The simple markers of politeness are encompassed in these concepts: we are all members of the human family and are citizens of the universe; we walk in one another's shoes; civility begins with a smile; forbearance and respect for others is fundamental, while "doing unto others as you will have them do to you" is a universally accepted moral precept.

Fortunately, the overwhelming number of people are fundamentally good, despite their human frailty occasionally getting the better of them. Again, the conventions of politeness are well known, enabling the rectifying of situations where people get things wrong.

Human interaction will deteriorate as the world's population heads towards ten billion individuals if good people are not on the lookout to constantly improve civil behaviour. After all, courtesy and politeness are the oil that smoothes relationships and enables the world to go round. If we dismiss the imperatives of civility, we do so at our collective peril.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
June, 2011

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May 2011

Wanted – Doers

A young man in his early twenties recently complained to me that he was often tired, the implication being that not many others on the planet have to endure the same condition, despite their work, or because of particular circumstances of their lives.

There is always the danger that we extrapolate from our own circumstances and are not aware of what other people have to endure, simply because they have to live!!

Of course, there are multitudes of people who are worse off than any of us and who soldier on with courage and fortitude, often without complaining.

One of the great gifts we are able to bequeath to students and to the younger generation is the virtue of hope and the value of resilience.

Much of popular television and the media have degenerated into showing superficial topics, such as makeovers of one kind or another, culinary dramas and the list goes on.  Serious issues are tending to drop off the serious discourse agenda.

Increasing numbers of the population seek simplistic solutions to complex issues and seek to protect themselves from the harsh realities of the world often by mouthing slogans!

Given the challenges human kind faces, encouraging people to harden up and to creatively stare down problems is becoming a major cultural necessity for any school and for our wider society.

Worrying never solved anything; resolute and bold approaches to issues are indispensable in the 21st Century. Collaboration and alliance building are the smart wrap around recipes for today’s challenges.  The yeast ingredient for success is inspiration and leadership – not so difficult, even though, yes, it is tiring at times!!

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
May, 2011

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April 2011

Joining The Future

The advent of the iPad in the marketplace could well be the tipping point, which will ultimately change the way schools operate their learning systems.

The competition to the iPad is coming from the Samsung Galaxy and similar devices from other technology companies.

These inventions, which are very user friendly and operate intuitively, have the potential to dramatically change the way in which schools deliver the education they provide.

Where cost has been a barrier to schools using lap tops across the board, these new easily portable technology units are becoming the way of the future.

This technology is able to deliver text book information, plus a wide range of useable and creative resources from anywhere in the world.  At the same time the applications on mobile phones and other emergent technology, enhance the potential to dramatically transform the way students learn.

While some teachers are still not fully computer literate, many of their students are, however, and this fact is part of the way forward. Combined teachers and students are part of the escalator, which will enable iPad type devices to be the change agents in the learning revolution – all part of the wonderful challenges of post modern life!!

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
April, 2011

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March 2011

The Collective IQ of the Population

This month's reflection commences with a message of active support and good will to our Christchurch colleagues who continue to adjust to the tragedy of February 22nd.  All New Zealanders are in admiration for the get-up-and-go attitude of Cantabrians despite this major historical setback.  With them, we shall overcome!!

Travel outside of this country is mainly a positive experience.  It helps New Zealanders to obtain a better view of themselves against an international backdrop.  Sure, we are a small nation at an extremity of the world, yet we are largely seen as a gutsy entity, which is respected in the world community.

Yes, we are not as affluent as some other countries, yet we are perceived as having a strong group IQ with an emotional quotient, which reflects our get up and go approach to life. "New Zealand would be a good place to live," is the often heard refrain when visiting off shore destinations.

Kiwis are great travellers and that is a good thing since it leads to an openness to others who are different and to an acceptance that nobody has a monopoly on enlightenment.  Travelling Kiwis have brought home a multitude of ideas, wealth and international connections, which the rest of us have richly benefited from – the restaurant and food industry are cases in point.

One of the greatest gifts the country has picked up and run with is the internet.  It has strengthened our connections with the rest of the world and is enabling all sorts of opportunities in business and social interaction to evolve.  It is strengthening the understanding the international community has of our nation, again, a good thing.

We will always have the nay sayers, the anxious and the 'no-nothings' of this world who would like us to become fortress New Zealand.  We cannot allow these troubled souls to get in the road of the majority who have the vision and energy to better themselves.  We must continue to reach out to those who are timid, or who need encouragement to better themselves through education, or through engaging in entrepreneurial and service activity.

It is salutary to look back over the last generation or two and count the very positive gains, which we have made in our growth as a nation.  We are not the richest in the world but we do have life style, benefits which are the envy of many outside of the country.  We must continue to accelerate wealth creation since that is very necessary in the long term.  In the meantime, the more we embrace the notion that ideas are now the engine of progress we will flourish as a small but significant player in the world.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
March, 2011

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February 2011

The excitement and enthusiasm of a New Year is a catalyst for us to reflect on the importance of encouraging the individuals in our school communities to look out for each other.  Giving and receiving charity creates the bonds of community, something no arm of government is able to do.

Young people who are attracted to all sorts of stimuli in the market place will always respond positively to examples of positive leadership, which is other oriented.  The adults in a school community are the role models who are able to set the expectations of what superior leadership, which is other directed, looks like.

The Book of Genesis, along with other scriptural references, makes it plain that we are our brothers and sisters keepers and therefore we have obligations of charity and good will to each other.

Many human conflicts are the result of cultural and social differences which in turn reflect different values.  As educators, not only do we have an obligation to mould and guide students to develop attitudes and actions, which are family and school community friendly, we also owe it to the wider community of the nation to instill good habits of civility.

The globalized twenty-first century is emphatically stating that collaboration and looking out for each other are fundamental dimensions of good international citizenship – this is all started in families and schools.  Hence the importance of ensuring we all have this vision as part of our leadership role, whatever this happens to be.

I wish you well for the year ahead offering you support and best wishes.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
February, 2011

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November 2010

Good teaching is a dynamic activity, which, if effective, is motivating and meaningful. It is not easy to meet this challenge when faced with students who are immersed in a range of stimulating activities, driven by the ever widening avenues of choice open to them.

As they mature and grow students rapidly develop a range of interests, knowledge and skills which are a resource for savvy teachers. The question has to be asked, 'does a student see the work she/he is asked to do, as their work, or do they see it as the teacher's work?' If ownership becomes theirs, students are more likely to engage in the task assigned and get it done.

Student engagement in their studies is predicated on gaining their confidence and collaboration, which fundamentally is to do with the human characteristics of their teachers. Teachers who are unstimulating and grumpy, normally do not create healthy relationships of any kind. We all know what enthusiastic, energizing teachers do for their students.

A collaborative approach to students seeks out their developing talents and skill base and takes them into a teacher's confidence. In turn, more often than not, this delivers student learning, enjoyment, motivation and ownership.

Maybe it is helpful to think of a group of individuals as having a group IQ which is reflective of the adage, 'one of us is never as strong as all of us.'

The October 2010 Chilean miners were able to escape their entombment simply because of the diverse creative engagement of the international community – successful classrooms and schools are built on the same type of framework.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
November, 2010

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October 2010

During September an ambulance crew which had been sent to an emergency situation in one of the nation’s towns was on the receiving end of malicious behaviour by a group of young people.

The crew had their personal belongings removed from the ambulance while attending to the emergency.  The vehicle’s radio was also removed.  To add insult to injury the offenders proceeded to mock the personnel on the stolen radio while they were doing their life saving work.

Given that the New Zealand ambulance service provides medical aid to every human being who needs specialist emergency help, it is appalling that there are some young people around who have little appreciation of the needs of vulnerable and sick individuals.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing number of emergent young people who appear to be moral zombies.  They simply have very little empathy for their fellow human beings and do not see them as worthy of respect.

This goes back to the importance of schools and families teaching and expecting virtuous behavior from young people, while establishing strong values which are supportive of building resilient human behavior.

The country will weaken and degenerate if the oil of civility, which is fundamental for the smooth functioning of society, does not freely lubricate human relationships.  This includes strangers, as well as acquaintances and friends.  The adult community has a strong responsibility to contain the behaviour of young people who mindlessly attack the core of sound human interactions. Fundamentally, it is a recognition of the sacredness of each human being.  We lose this concept to our national peril.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
October, 2010

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September 2010

The world’s great statesmen and women are lauded and hailed as such when they paint the large picture and are able to create an image of what is possible in human endeavour. The power of education as a tide to lift the well-being of human beings is well known among the elites of the world. These people talk about education as a liberation for individuals and point out that it is the world’s most powerful tool for promoting peace and building sustainable development for humanity.

These lofty ideas can often get lost in the daily pressures of living and working. Yet, if we sink and succumb to the pressures of the present and forget about shaping the future, we blunt our effectiveness as leaders.

The swirling pressures and demands of the present surely have to be addressed, yet leadership demands we keep an eye on solving the structural challenges we are immersed in.

Post modern life for leaders is full of pressures, yet they are able to be managed, if an eye is kept on the fact that we can only effectively make our contribution to uplifting the lives of those around us, providing we feed and nurture our own spirits and keep a measured grip on our job, whatever that happens to be. The sun will get up tomorrow and for millennia to come. The God whom Saint Thomas Aquinas described as majesty, mystery and mercy will always be there to sustain us.

Managing our lives in a productive way is one of the challenges for today’s leaders – it can be done as most do, providing a statesman/women vision is kept firmly in focus. Ultimately, we are on a journey and we are in for the long haul!!

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
14th September, 2010

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August 2010

Nimen Hao (hello)

New Zealand and China have a world class positive relationship which is enhanced by regular visits between leaders of both countries. The interaction includes a Free Trade Agreement which is the envy of many nations. The question is often asked in diplomatic and commercial circles, how did you Kiwis manage to pull off such a coup with China, which is a world first? The answer to the question has a lot to do with the position New Zealand has established over the years in its relationship building with the world's most populous sovereign State. Chinese leaders do not forget the proactive leadership successive New Zealand Governments have exercised in favour of bringing China into the international family of nations.

The late Premier of China, Deng Xiaoping, was one of the first modern Chinese leaders to promote the importance of the teachings of Confucius. He was also a very practical man who often used to say, "It doesn't matter whether a cat is black of white providing it catches mice." It was he who promoted the virtues of entrepreneurship and the capitalist system which has unleashed the Chinese economic miracle and catapulted the nation into a dominant world leadership position.

The values and wisdom which Confucius has infused into the Chinese nation are enduring and valuable for all nations, including New Zealand. They promote the well-being of individuals and families and enable people to live happy lives.

One of the important things New Zealand students have to come to appreciate is that learning about the great nation of China and learning the Mandarin language are a very desirable goals, since China has 20% of the world's population and is a major world power, as well as a huge international economic engine.

New Zealand and China need one another. Confucius says: "Respect yourself and others will respect you." This advice is taken to heart by both countries who are good international friends.

I commend the Chinese Government for its initiative in establishing the Confucian School Centre in the same way it established the Confucian Institute at Auckland University some years ago. This includes the participation of several of our Catholic schools, to their great credit.

I'm sure this initiative will strengthen the long term relationship between The People's Republic of China and the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
16th August 2010

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July 2010

In recent months metropolitan and provincial newspapers have carried the 2009 NCEA results for the nation’s secondary schools.  Overall, our Catholic schools have shown excellent results, which is a great credit to our principals, teachers, students and boards of trustees, not forgetting parents and caregivers.

Part of the growing success of our schools, both primary and secondary, arises from our Catholic educational philosophy and school culture.  This in turn is based on our faith which is founded on the three great virtues of faith, hope and love.

The new Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, stands up for the fundamental importance of Catholic schools in the life of his great city.  He says we are called to be men and women who love and share that love with the students and families we serve.  If we cannot do our work with love, there is little sense in doing it.  The Archbishop is not too keen on any educators who love themselves above all else, however.  He says such individuals are the last thing our Church needs.

All this translates into the importance of positive relationships in enabling students to achieve.  Certainly, the recently published Ministry of Education landmark Best Evidence Synthesis outlining what works in delivering student achievement across the board, is unequivocally clear that a holistic, loving approach to student education does work with all students.

Thank you for encouraging young people in our schools to feel they are important and that they belong, while they are in your educational care.  The people who deliver it, and the way they deliver our educational services  are the messages students will remember more than anything else in their adulthood.  Their lives will ultimately depend on both.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
6th July 2010

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Greetings!!

  1. This communication is being sent to a network of individuals and communities within the New Zealand Catholic education system. It will focus mainly on broad contemporary issues rather than get involved in bread and butter topic areas.
  2. Leadership is the driver of change and without it stagnation and regression are the outcomes. No matter who we are or where we live there is always the danger of going stale, which is not good for any of us or for the institution we serve.
  3. This Blog will hopefully provide some stimulation and be a vehicle for building greater cohesion and stimulation in our school system.
  4. The international Church has drawn a lot of international ‘flak’ in recent times. This has caused embarrassment and dismay for many Catholics as they have seen in bold relief, aspects of the Church’s human frailty. We have also fortunately experienced several of our NZ Bishops providing positive public leadership on the tragic issue.
  5. Leaders are individuals who are purveyors of hope. They promote human flourishing no matter what the circumstances they face. History gives accolades to those leaders who overcome adversity by building self confidence in their followers. They demonstrate commitment to promoting human flourishing where good is promoted over evil. Where goodness is found, there God is found.
  6. Thank you for entering into the spirit of the Catholic Schools Day last week. Celebrating what we stand for is good for us and good for the nation!
  7. I offer you encouragement as you engender hope and confidence with those whom you serve.
    Wishing you well and offering you support and best wishes.

Patrick J. Lynch
Chief Executive Officer
O1.06.10

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Latest Updates

NZCEO Annual Business Plan 2016 - End of Year Report [pdf 685kb]

Catholic Education Convention 2018 Date confirmed – June 13th to 15th – more information to come over the next few months.

Copyright for Liturgical Music – guidelines from the National Liturgy Office about the legal requirements for reproducing religious music in schools and parishes