Emerging leaders linking minds

Issue: Volume 93, Number 6

Posted: 14 April 2014
Reference #: 1H9ctW

Applications open shortly for the 2014/2015 prestigious Linking Minds Scholarship, which is a significant award aimed at young teachers who are identified as emerging leaders. The last group of scholarship winners visited Wales and learned about the Welsh experience with bilingualism.

The Linking Minds Scholarship provides the opportunity to gain international experience and bring back new insights, skills, and inspiration to our early childhood services and schools.

This two-year scholarship aims to recognise and promote effective teaching by providing international experience for teachers early in their careers. Teachers who are awarded this scholarship have demonstrated a desire to develop new knowledge, skills, and confidence in their leadership capacity through their teaching and as leaders in their early childhood services or schools.

The scholarship is offered through a partnership of the British Council, the Ministry of Education, the NZ-UK Link Foundation, and the New Zealand Teachers Council.

According to Dr Peter Lind, director of the New Zealand Teachers Council, “this is a prestigious scholarship that recognises teachers who have demonstrated leadership potential early in their careers, specifically in relation to their commitment to Māori learners and to using te reo Māori in their teaching”.

British Council country director, Ingrid Leary, said, “this scholarship is a game-changer for the winners. We had four excellent winners last year, representing all sectors. Two of them have gone on to Master’s level tertiary study as a result of travelling overseas and being inspired to take their leadership aspirations further. They remain in contact with teachers from Wales, and last year, we had the first reciprocal visit from Welsh teachers who had been encouraged by the New Zealand group to fly here to learn more from their Kiwi counterparts.”

Two scholarship winners – Nichola McCall and Piata Allen – say their experience was thought provoking, inspiring, and challenging.

A similar path

New Zealand and Wales share a proud history of preserving their language through bilingual education.

While in Wales, the Linking Minds group had the opportunity to observe a cross-section of the education system, including the Welsh equivalent to our mainstream, bilingual, and immersion schools. Their visit covered early childhood through to tertiary organisations. They were also given the opportunity to discuss our two modern multicultural societies with the Welsh equivalent of our Māori Language Commissioner.

Both Nichola and Piata are passionate advocates of the benefits that a deep understanding and utilisation of te reo Māori as a living language can bestow on their respective schools. So when it was announced that the Linking Minds Scholarship trip of 2012 would be focused on an exploration of bilingualism in the Welsh education system, both leapt at the chance.

Nichola went to Wales on the Linking Minds Scholarship to discover strategies that she could take back to her learning community.

“At the time, I was doing a lot of work around promoting biculturalism in our school with a key project group. We wanted to make sure that our teachers were comfortable participating in all things Māori. With that comes te reo Māori. So this trip was the perfect opportunity to see how another country that has been on a similar journey deals with culture and language. My vision was for te reo Māori to be a compulsory language at our school, and I wanted to see how it could be done.”

“You notice straight away when you go to Wales that everything is bilingual. Every road sign is in Welsh as well as English.”

“What this means in practice is that the Welsh language is everywhere,” adds Piata.

Piata says that for her, an examination of the Welsh process in producing bilingual resources was especially eye-opening.

Both Nichola and Piata believe that the Welsh system offers possibilities for strengthening te reo Māori in New Zealand.

“I think that we’ve got a pretty solid foundation, and maybe it’s time to start talking about the next steps. We’ve got a strong base on which to create something indigenous for all New Zealanders. In Wales, they’ve really put their head on the chopping block and said ‘hey, we’re really going to make this a part of who we are as a country’.” Nichola says.

“I think that if we allow it to, te reo Māori can really unite all cultures in New Zealand. That’s how I sell it to my colleagues. It’s about New Zealand culture. Part of our culture is about telling both sides of the story, because ultimately that’s the foundation of our country, as enshrined in the Treaty. As teachers, not to mention citizens, I believe we have a responsibility to be teaching our students that.”

2014/2015 Linking Minds Scholarship

The theme for the 2014/2015 scholarship is professional leadership and bilingual and immersion education.

Young teachers who are emerging leaders with a passion for te reo Māori and bilingual education are encouraged to apply for the prestigious international travel scholarship.

The scholarship is open to teachers who are aged under 35; in their first five years as a New Zealand fully registered teacher; and working in a licensed early childhood service or state or state integrated school.

The scholarship covers all costs (travel, accommodation, interview and selection costs).

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:21 pm, 14 April 2014

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts