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Boarding Conference Inspires Leadership

By | June 26, 2017

ih-june2017-kelly ivesIn my new role as Director of Boarding I recently attended the New Zealand Boarding Schools Association National Conference, which was an inspirational and informative week. The conference is a time to reflect, connect with like-minded people, and think about the future of our respective schools.


Opening speaker, Jan Robertson, Leadership Consultant at the University of Waikato, spoke of engaging a mindset of Coaching Leadership.

Leadership is about being outside your comfort zone, trying to lead transformative change whereas Coaching Leadership is a way of being, which encourages us to be:

  • Deeply reflective
  • A role model for change
  • Self aware
  • Open to new learning

Jan talked about how, in a community, every member has an important part to play. A shared vision, shared knowledge, and recognising strengths and weaknesses. Incorporating an adult-student learning environment where we all participate in making change happen.

She posed two questions, “What do we want from our leaders in life?” and “Leadership for what?”

My answers to these questions were, role modelling and to have culturally responsive leadership. Ultimately, our students need good role models with solid values.

On the second day of the conference, I had the privilege of listening to the recently appointed Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft. He spoke of education as being the biggest lever for children, and about our significant responsibility and obligation as educators.

There are so many opportunities available at school and yet New Zealand still has a high percentage of disconnected youth. Judge Becroft told us of a young male he once had in his court who said to him “I hope you get it right!” Judge Becroft pondered that question before asking himself “but what does getting it right really mean?”

We are extremely fortunate at Woodford House to have a close knit community and family focused environment where our students have the opportunities to have a say and stand united together in change. Both leadership and role modelling come from creating a climate of trust, respect and openness with our students. Our student representatives attend board meetings and committees organised to help with the running of our school community.

Other inspirational speakers throughout the week were Dr Jenny Poskitt, Senior Lecturer at Massey University, who spoke about ‘what New Zealand adolescents want from adults in an educational setting’. Marion Doherty and Tania White from the Kari Centre, a community service provided for children and adolescents who may be experiencing a mental illness, did a presentation on ‘Adolescent Anxiety’ which is very topical at the moment.

This flowed on to a presentation by New Zealand personality Mike King around mental health. His motto, ‘It’s Cool to Korero’ engaged a strong message with the audience. He mixed comedy with a serious tone and finished with a quote from Peggy O’Mara, ‘The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.’

This hit home for me, both as a parent and a mentor for our students. It is vital that the messages we give our children help them to realise their full potential because realising potential builds confidence.

Kelly Ives, Director of Boarding