Hosted by the Principals and Catholic Education Office of the Diocese of Bathurst, the conference attracted a large number of Principals from all dioceses to avail themselves of the wisdom of a number of highly qualified speakers and academics from around the globe.
Unfortunately I had to miss the first day of the conference and subsequently missed the opportunity to hear Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne address the gathering. Those who were fortunate to be present spoke in glowing terms of his contribution to the conference.
The conference theme was Encounter New Horizons and the various speakers certainly engaged with the challenges of the theme in their presentations.
I had the opportunity to listen to Ms Valerie Hannon, a former Director of Education of Derbyshire County in the UK and currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Innovation Unit UK, Dr Dean Fink, an international consultant and former superintendent with the Halton Board of Education in Ontario, Canada and Dr Yong Zhao, currently the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon where he is also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy and Leadership.
If there was a common thread weaving through the various presentations it was that when encountering new horizons we simply cannot resort to doing what we have always done.
Some of the comments included:
- “Being an engaged learner is addictive”
- “The maintenance of the status quo is abhorrent”
- “If we focus on authentic learning you will get the learning results”
Without doubt this was a quality conference. Whilst it is easy to note that as leaders of schools and systems of schools we are governed by the constraints of government regulation and the accountabilities of the Higher School Certificate, NAPLAN tests etc., we need to ensure that the creative approaches to student learning espoused by these various speakers are put into practice as often as we can.
To the executive of the ACSP and to the Diocese of Bathurst I offer my sincere congratulations on the success of the conference. They have set a very high standard which the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will endeavour to emulate as hosts of the 2017 conference.