May the Taskforce be with you!

May 23, 2018

Beyond the Education Summits

 “The primary purpose of the review of Tomorrow’s Schools will be to consider if the governance, management and administration of the schooling system is fit for purpose to ensure that every learner achieves educational success.” Tomorrow’s Schools Review

In the wake of Education Minister Chris Hipkins appointing a high-level taskforce of five educators to lead the review of the school governance structure that has been in place since the 1980s, Katie Fitzpatrick offered some food for thought in an Education Central piece on 2 May headlined Tomorrow’s Schools being reviewed by yesterday’s experts.

She concedes that each of the appointees is respected within the education community and, as a group, they appear to be reasonably diverse. “However, a closer look reveals that they are all representatives of educational institutions, most of which are partially or entirely funded by the Ministry of Education or the Government in some way… they largely represent existing sectoral interests…”

Taskforce Members

The Taskforce chairman is Bali Haque, an independent consultant who has worked for NZQA, NZ Principals’ Association and PPTA.  Members are Dr Cathy Wylie, NZ Council for Educational Research; Professor Mere Berryman, Waikato University and Te Kotahitanga; Professor John O’Neill, Massey University and NZ Association for Research in Education; and Barbara Ala’alatoa, chair of the Education Council.

Katie Fitzpatrick goes onto say that “The review is about repurposing schools for the 21st century and it requires, by definition, new and innovative thinking. As a person ‘inside the tent’ … I think it is imperative to have outside input into a systemic review such as this. Representation is also needed from other sectors with youth interests at heart.”

I couldn’t agree more. The challenge is to get a dynamic balance between those inside the tent and those outside– and between the mature experience of those who lived through and learnt from earlier system changes and the fresh ideas of those who didn’t.

But while there certainly needs to be a good mix of ages, experience and ideas in people contributing to and advising the Taskforce, not to have educators with mana and experience leading it would be to show a lack of trust in a sector which needs to be highly trusted not tightly trussed.

Advisory Panel Members

At the first Education Summit on 5-6 May the Minister of Education announced that he had also appointed “a diverse group of knowledgeable and passionate New Zealanders” on a cross-sector Advisory Panel to help the Taskforce and the Government guide the reform of the education system.

The Advisory Panel, led by Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, will ease some concerns about the range of input. It includes former National education minister Sir Lockwood Smith, former Labour minister Marian Hobbs, Victoria University professor Rawinia Higgins, Pacific health consultant Debbie Ryan, Auckland University of Technology professor Welby Ings, playwright Etta Bollinger, and the chief executive of the Centre for Gifted Education, Deborah Walker.

Trial by fire

No shrinking violets, the members of the Advisory Panel will provide cross-sector perspectives in advising the Taskforce on the strengths and challenges of the current system, the changes required to ensure equity and excellence for all children and young people, how they would work in practice and with what impact.

It is also prepared to get fired up if necessary. Panel Chair Judge Becroft says the challenge of providing a world-leading education system is an issue for the whole community and will need the perspectives of all of us, including the voices of children and young people.

“As an advisory group, we are tasked with ensuring all of these voices and perspectives are heard and acted upon, across the full spectrum of the work that government is doing in education….In that sense, the group is both guardian of these voices, and a watchdog in the best sense. We intend to hold their feet to the fire to ensure that the future of education in New Zealand reflects what people are sharing.”

During 2018 this group will provide a high level overview and help connect strands coming out of the education conversation and summits with the development and delivery of the Government’s strategic education work plan, which includes the reviews of Tomorrow’s Schools and NCEA.

The latter has a separate group of innovative advisers to help review the NCEA process; Jeremy Baker- Chair, Barbara Cavanagh, Pauline Waiti, Michelle Dickinson (“Nanogirl”), Jonathan Gee, Arizona Leger, Charles Darr, plus an NCEA youth advisory group of students . Again there is a good balance of experience and youth and different perspectives.

Given these counterweights, having well regarded representatives of public education institutions at the top Taskforce table might avoid some of the uneasy compromises which led to the changes three decades ago which are now under the spotlight.

Picot Task Force

It is instructive to look at the genesis of many of the changes now under review. The Picot task force was set up by the Lange Labour Government in July 1987 to review the school system and draw some new lines in the sand.

Chaired by businessman Brian Picot its members were Peter Ramsay, an associate professor of education at the University of Waikato, Margaret Rosemergy, a senior lecturer at the Wellington College of Education, Whetumarama Wereta, a social researcher at the Department of Maori Affairs and Colin Wise, another businessman.

They were assisted by staff from the Treasury and the State Services Commission, with the Department of Education sidelined advice-wise but squarely in the cross hairs of the reforming sights of the then Treasury’s Billy the Kid sharpshooters.

There were only two, not particularly high profile, educators in key review positions. This was not the case with the Education Development Conference working parties of the previous decade, in which Prof. Phillip Lawrence, University of Canterbury played a key role, nor is it the case with the make up of the current taskforce.

So those selected for the 2018 Tomorrow’s Schools Review Taskforce appear to have somewhat more collective and diverse knowledge of things educational than their Picot predecessors.

The governance philosophy of the 1980s was based on the tenet that management skills were interchangeable Lego-like between industries. When it came to dealing with groups like teachers and doctors  it was thought necessary to avoid “professional capture” and ignore engaging properly with professionally credible people. Change had to be engineered speedily to head off defensive reaction.

Administrative Focus

The 1987 mandate was to review management structures and cost-effectiveness, but it did not include curriculum, teaching or effectiveness. Over nine months the commission received input from over 700 people or organizations. The Picot Report Administering for Excellence: Effective Administration in Education was released in May 1988.

For slow learners administration was mentioned twice in five words in the title, which still sends a shiver up the spine of those who are wary about too much horse-scaring change management and administrative oversight at the expense of professional leadership which directly enhances teaching and learning.

The report was highly critical of the Department of Education, which it labelled as inefficient and unresponsive. How many education bureaucrats did it take to replace a light bulb in a school? From memory 18 or so, but that may have been a suburban myth.

The Picot report recommended a system where each school would be largely independent, governed by a board consisting mainly of parents, although subject to review and inspection by specialized government agencies. The Labour Government accepted many of the recommendations in their response Tomorrow’s Schools, finally drafted by two officials from the Treasury and the SSC but no educationalists. It became the basis for educational reform in New Zealand starting in 1989 though some key elements in the report were never implemented.

Blaming an inefficient centralised bureaucracy for slipping school standards, the government disestablished the Department of Education, replacing it with a slimmer Ministry of Education and moving the governance of state schools to their individual school communities.

The Department of Education was replaced with six new siloed bodies, the Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office (ERO), the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), the Tertiary Education Commission, Careers NZ and the New Zealand Teachers’ Council.

Curriculum reform tinkering occurred in the 1990s, followed by more comprehensive and innovative reform a decade later to update what was being taught in schools in and for the 21st century.

The pendulum had swung radically as pendulums do when given a good shove. Schools scrambled to find property management, financial and HR expertise among their staff or board, particularly in lower decile catchments and struggled with professional development and learning culture change.

To balance their books many schools, particularly at the secondary level, became engaged in what some considered unseemly domestic and international competition for students.

2018 Terms of Reference

The 2018 Taskforce, like 30 years ago, is tasked with looking at “the changes needed to governance, management and administration to better support all learners throughout their schooling” .

Per its terms of reference  it is expected to consult widely with all stakeholders, including representatives of teachers, principals, boards of trustees, the LGBTQIA+ community, parents of children with learning support needs, employers and young people.

The term “Tomorrow’s Schools” still has some surprising currency three decades later, at a time when, according to the OECD, “Skills are the new world currency”. New Zealand’s state schools have hardly been “tomorrow’s schools” for a long time. There is a pent up need for a review of the administrative weight, formerly regionalised or centralised, placed on schools.

No one wants to go back to the constricting confines of the old Department of Education. Its occupation of the reputed biggest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere made too emphatic a bureaucratic statement.

But while distributed leadership is crucial and empowering in domains such as professional development and curriculum application, when it comes to things like physical infrastructure, HR, health and safety, more regional collaboration and national co-ordination is long overdue and would take pressure off principals and boards.

In the face of a growing quantity and quality crisis a vital national priority like teacher recruitment is still largely devolved to autonomous tertiary teacher education providers.

Senior leadership teams in schools need to be able to focus more on professional development and support, the keys to a quality learning environment. There have been some  promising collaborative initiatives in recent years like the establishment of Communities of Learning involving local primary and secondary schools and sometimes early childhood centres.

Despite  scepticism in some quarters this is a welcome development to encourage knowledge and resource sharing, grow professionalism and develop education leadership. This is also a key strand of Education Leaders Forum 2018: Valuing Educators- Revaluing Education to be held in August.

CoLs give educators the opportunity to model the soft skills like collaboration, knowledge sharing, problem solving, creativity and innovation which are increasingly required in the modern earning environments to which their learners gravitate.

More input and feedback

“The essence of feedback is that the effect of an action is fed back to alter that action.” Edward de Bono

What is needed downstream of the two recent Education Summits, book-ended by The Education Conversation -Kōrero Mātauranga which closes on 31 May, are on-going live and online opportunities for continuing dialogue and feedback on pending reforms.

This could involve using distributed education facilities throughout the country plus interactive platforms like Zoom for focussed live and virtual meetings on key topics.

As well as wider involvement it would provide platforms for special interest groups and experts to pick up in depth on the threads that have evolved so far. It would build in a feedback loop that would go a long way to improving the productive outcome of the education conversation by helping to focus the minds of those on the Taskforce and the Advisory Panel.

To have only a “tick the box” online questionnaire and two invited Summit audiences involved for two days providing input and feedback would be a missed opportunity in terms of continuing real dialogue and feedback.

As always in education discussions there needs to be an adjustment for the Dunning-Kruger effect and its Socratic corollary: “The less you know about something, the more you think you know; the more you know about something, the less you think you know”.

Piloting the next stage of the ambitious millennial education reform juggernaut should not yet become a Han Solo effort. In order to escape the gravitational pull of old systems and outdated mindsets, the energy required to fuel lift-off needs to come from the continued involvement of those affected by or interested in the outcomes of the reform process.

The bandwidth of knowledge is trust. May the Task Force be with us all!

[ 12/6/18-Have your say.]

Lyall Lukey   Convener, Education Leaders Forum 2018

Bill Gates, the ELF and me

August 30, 2009

“…But soft, what light through yonder window shines…?”  ‘ Not Microsoft, that’s for sure!’

In January 2008 I arrived at Millbrook Resort golf course at the same time as Bill Gates.  Bill arrived by car, driven from his private jet parked at Queenstown airport; I arrived by cycle, complete with panier bags, from the opposite direction, having  just biked at somewhat less than the speed of thought over the Crown Range from Wanaka en route to Te Anau and back.

Unlike Bill I wasn’t staying at the resort; I’d merely stopped to replenish my water bottle in the stream that runs through the golf course.  I only picked up on the propinquity when reading next day’s paper. But had I known that we  had a brewing intellectual property issue with Microsoft, which is still not resolved, I would have got pumped up, got  off  my bike and knocked on his chalet door.

Three months before we had just run our first Education Leaders Forum (ELF 07) at Terrace Downs. This was an across-the-education-spectrum event to look at what is happening upstream and downstream of a particular sector and to explore possibilities for knowledge sharing at the boundaries.

We weren’t going to call the annual event “Education Leaders Forum”; that was initially only a working title.  We were aware that the New Zealand Business Roundtable’s education group is called the Education Forum, so there was the potential for confusion, and the acronym ELF was a little unfortunate-until we thought about it and realised that, in the wake of the LOR series, it is very apposite.  

The average Elf, as we now know, has a slim and nimble body and the special ability, compared to other races, to hold their breath longer as well as being better able to jump from high places. This was all very appropriate for an unofficial whole learning system initiative.   (We won’t get into Elf Camps; without putting the boot in they are not flavour du jour.)

We were a little surprised to find out a few months later, when we were in the throes of organising ELF 08, that a Microsoft- organised event in Paris, under the UNESCO banner, was promoted as “Education Leaders Forum 2008” and “ELF 08”, especially as I had tried to enlist the Microsoft New Zealand office in our inaugural event the year before and shown them promotional materials.

 My attempts to have some light shone on the matter show that, despite Bill Gates excellent book “Business at the Speed of Thought”, there are  some black holes in Microsoft’s corporate communication process which are difficult to illumine at any speed. 

Here are excerpts from the e-mail correspondence initiated by me to try to ascertain whether we had coincidentally used a term and an abbreviation already in currency or whether Microsoft had done the same, either unwittingly or in pursuit of the principle that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

 We have waited expectantly over the 8 months since our first enquiry for a simple answer to a simple question. This is almost the span of time from conception to birth for humankind. (Elves have a somewhat speeded up reproductive cycle).  

Despite this gestation period, little of substance has been volunteered by Microsoft.  What we have learned has had to be extracted in micro amounts, softly softly, at something less than the speed of thought. 

 Just for the Record:

From: []  

Sent: 22 January 2009 04:15 

To: Greg Butler (UK)                                                                                             

Subject: (Education Leaders’ Forum 2008) ELF 08

 <When did ELF start? ie was 2008 the first event?> 

This message was generated from a contact form at: ttp://

 —–Original Message—–
From: Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor) []
Sent: Friday, 20 February 2009 5:41 a.m.
Subject: FW: (Education Leaders’ Forum 2008):ELF 08 

<Dear Mr. Lyall,

 <Thank you for your question. The Education Leaders Forum 2008 is part of the Education Leaders Briefing series. 

Whilst the Education Leaders Briefing (coinciding with the BETT exhibition and the UK Government’s Learning and Technology World Forum, every year in January) focuses on primary and secondary education, the Education Leaders Forum discusses tertiary education. 

Held jointly with the UNESCO from 7-8 July 2008 it was the first event targeting tertiary education. Following up to the success of last year’s event UNESCO and Microsoft will continue to deliver this working conference in 2009. 

Exact dates are still to be confirmed but it will most likely take place in early July again. Once dates are confirmed we will share it with the community via the blog. Please watch out for updates. 

In case of questions don’t hesitate to contact us or post a question via the blog.> 

Yours sincerely,

Dolores Puxbaumer 

From: Lyall Lukey []  

Sent: Friday, 20 February 2009 11:30 a.m.
To: ‘’
Subject: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08 and New Zealand ELF 08

 <Thanks you Dolores 

This is a Tale of Two ELFs! As you will see, we started the Education Leaders Forum in New Zealand in 2007 and have since used the abbreviation ELF 07, ELF 08 and ELF 09. Here is last year’s logo… 

Here are details of our first two annual events:  

 …We approached Microsoft NZ in March 2007 for some sponsorship and sent a concept document regarding our inaugural Education Leaders Forum… While there was some interest in ELF 07, our discussions did not proceed to a formal proposal at the time, but we were asked to stay in touch. 

The evolution of the two ELF 08 events is quite likely just coincidental, but given the sequence of events and our precedence, we think it would be only fair if you amended your long title and the abbreviated version to avoid any confusion, for example in web searches and repositories of resources following the two different events. Perhaps you should add the word Tertiary to your forum event ie Tertiary Education Leaders Forum. That would be more descriptive. (Our on-going series draws people across all education and training sectors, including the workplace)…. 

…We hope we can work with Microsoft in good faith to remove a repeat of the ELF08 duplication and perhaps explore partnership possibilities … in New Zealand-a smaller canvas than UNESCO but a great test bed for innovative new ways of learning and working!>

Best regards

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum

Mancan House, 236 Manchester Street
P O Box 13-577, Christchurch 8141,
New Zealand
Phone: (+64 3) 366-7874; Fax: (+64 3) 366-7807
From: Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor) []
Sent: Friday, 12 June 2009 4:13 p.m.
Subject: FW: (Education Leaders’ Forum 2008) : ELF 08

 <Dear Mr. Lyall,

 Microsoft has been using the Education Leaders Briefing (ELF) for many years. The 2008 ELF posted a press release here:  The specific reference to earlier use of Education Leaders Forum was this: “He also expressed his gratitude to Microsoft for organizing the Forum under the global UNESCO/Microsoft agreement that he had signed with Bill Gates in 2004.”>

 Yours sincerely,

Dolores Puxbaumer

From: Lyall Lukey []
Sent: Saturday, 13 June 2009 11:49 a.m.
To: ‘Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)’
Subject: RE: (Education Leaders’ Forum 2008):ELF 08

 <Thank you Dolores 

The term “Education Leaders Briefing” is not the same as “Education Leaders Forum”.  It is the later which lends itself to the acronym ELF or ELF 08. We have used both versions since 2007 for a New Zealand cross education sector annual event. (see below).

 I referred to this in the e-mail* I sent you (and copied Chris Liddell, Microsoft) after your response on 20/2/ 2009 to my initial enquiry.

I have had no further response to this (apart from your virtual repeat of your earlier response received today). 

We do not wish to look as if we are copying your use of both the full and shortened versions of ”Education Leaders Forum” when we may have used one or the other or both before you ( if, indeed, you used the term Education Leaders Briefing up to 2008 and only used ”Education Leaders Forum” and ELF 08 etc from that point, which is what I’m tried to clarify). 

Please refer to my response of 20/2/ 2009 below-which includes outlines our approach to Microsoft New  Zealand in 2007 about our ELF07.  

For details of this year’s Education Leaders Forum in New Zealand  visit >

 Best regards

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum

From: Liz Butowicz []
Sent: Tuesday, 23 June 2009 7:04 a.m.
Subject: FW: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Dear Mr. Lyall – 

I am following up to your email correspondence with Dolores Puxbaumer. There was an unfortunate typo in the reply that I sent to Dolores to use in response to your request that she sent to you on 12 June: 

Microsoft has been using the Education Leaders Briefing (ELF) for many years. The 2008 ELF posted a press release here:  The specific reference to earlier use of Education Leaders Forum was this: “He also expressed his gratitude to Microsoft for organizing the Forum under the global UNESCO/Microsoft agreement that he had signed with Bill Gates in 2004.” 

It should have read Education Leaders Forum (ELF) rather than Briefing – as you can see from the link specified, Microsoft has been using the term Education Leaders Forum since 2004.> 


Liz Butowicz 

Sr. Education Marketing Manager, Microsoft Corporation

From: Lyall Lukey []
Sent: Tuesday, 23 June 2009 11:06 a.m.
To: ‘Liz Butowicz’
Cc: ‘’
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Thank you Liz 

That (almost) answers my question. However, the 2008 source does not quite cover off the question of when the term “Educational Leaders Forum” was first used in the UNESCO/Microsoft context-ie before 2008: “He also expressed his gratitude to Microsoft for organizing the Forum under the global UNESCO/Microsoft agreement that he had signed with Bill Gates in 2004.”  

Can you give me other on-line sources for the use of “Educational Leaders Forum” before 2008?  

I am still interested in exploring synergies between Microsoft in New Zealand and our national Forum (see below) if you can point me in the right direction.> 

Best regards

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum 

From: Lyall Lukey []
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2009 9:54 PM
To: Liz Butowicz; Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)
Subject: FW: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Hi Liz and Dolores 

Apart from Dolores’ automated out of office response neither of you have replied to my e-mail below. I would appreciate a prompt response. I am tracking the electronic paper trail and it’s getting rather cold.> 


Lyall Lukey 

From: Liz Butowicz []
Sent: Monday, 27 July 2009 2:34 a.m.
To: Lyall Lukey; Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Dear Mr. Lukey – 

I apologize for the delay in responding to your email – I am doing research to provide answers to your questions below. Thank you for your patience.> 


From: Lyall Lukey []
Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 8:16 PM
To: Liz Butowicz; Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Hi Liz 

I expected a reply by now.>

Best regards

Lyall Lukey

From: Liz Butowicz []
Sent: Tuesday, 18 August 2009 8:07 a.m.
To: Lyall Lukey
Cc: Dolores Puxbaumer (Intl Vendor)
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Dear Mr. Lukey, 

Thank you for your follow up email from July 23rd. We apologize for the delay in responding, but we wanted to be sure we were clear on your question.  As we understand it, you are looking to find out the date that Microsoft started using the “Education Leadership Forum (ELF)” terminology.  We confirm that Microsoft has been offering educational leadership events with various titles for a number of years.  The 2008 conference title was indeed called Education Leadership Forum (ELF) and was offered in conjunction with UNESCO in Paris, France.  Given that naming rights are territorially limited, we presume that you are not claiming any likelihood of confusion between our offering in Paris, France with your event in New Zealand.  

Please let us know if you have any further questions.>

 Thank you,


From: Lyall Lukey []
Sent: Thursday, 20 August 2009 5:27 p.m.
To: ‘’
Cc: ‘’
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 <Dear Ms Butowicz 

You say:  “Thank you for your follow up email from July 23rd. We apologize for the delay in responding, but we wanted to be sure we were clear on your question.”

 I say:  The delay in responding is to an e-mail dated 23rd of June-and much earlier correspondence. The e-mail of July 23 was simply one of several prompts I sent when I had not received a reply to my very clear question.

 You say: “As we understand it, you are looking to find out the date that Microsoft started using the “Education Leadership Forum (ELF)” terminology.” (sic)  

I say: Yes-all my communications make very clear that the question is: when did Microsoft start using the  specific “Education Leaders Forum” and “ELF” terminology?  (Not, as you’ve referred to it earlier the “Education Leaders Briefing (ELF)” or, now, the “Education LeadershipForum (ELF)”. Back in February Dolores did refer, correctly, to your “Education Leaders Forum 2008”.)

You now say: We confirm that Microsoft has been offering educational leadership events with various titles for a number of years.  The 2008 conference title was indeed called Education Leadership Forum (ELF) and was offered in conjunction with UNESCO in Paris, France.” 

I say: My question had nothing to do with other prior educational leadership events with various titles for a number of years.”  The subject line makes it clear that we were talking about your ELF 08 and 09 and our ELF 07, 08 and 09.  The content in this long drawn out correspondence clearer, which started in January 2009, makes it even clearer. Your previous substantive response in June was clearly (or rather unclearly) obfuscation. In it you said:

 “Microsoft has been using the Education Leaders Briefing (ELF) for many years. The 2008 ELF posted a press release here:  The specific reference to earlier use of Education Leaders Forum was this: “He also expressed his gratitude to Microsoft for organizing the Forum under the global UNESCO/Microsoft agreement that he had signed with Bill Gates in 2004.”   

I say: This is clearly not a “specific reference to earlier use of Education Leaders Forum”. As I have already pointed out, in this paragraph you refer to “Education Leaders Briefing (ELF)”. For that the acronym would surely be ELB.

It turns out that-as I thought from the start-that you had only been using “Education Leaders Forum” and  “ELF” etc since 2008, a year after we started using “Education Leaders Forum” and “ELF 07” etc. and-more to the point- after we talked to your New Zealand regional office about being involved in the inaugural 2007 Education Leaders Forumand showed them promotional collateral.

You say: “Given that naming rights are territorially limited, we presume that you are not claiming any likelihood of confusion between our offering in Paris, France with your event in New Zealand.” 

I say: In a connected virtual world, with search engines like Google, I am, indeed, claiming not just the possibility but the likelihood of confusion in cyberspace. This confusion cuts both ways. In the real world New Zealanders attend UNESCO meetings and a Microsoft-supported event under the ELF terminology could cause confusion-or, at the very least, questions about originality and derivation. 

But more to the point, I wanted to clarify the fact of first use by us, as we’ve finally and painfully established, versus second use by you, whether your use is a case of coincidence or copycatting.  I represent a small organization in a small country. You represent a big organisation, in a large country, with a global mandate (and with a New Zealander in a key leadership role). Embedded in our correspondence below there are issues of public relations, good corporate citizenship aspects and credibility, not to mention openness and timeliness.

 At the very inception I offered a positive way through… This is still our position. This matter should be seen as a public relations issue, not a legal one. Now that the situation is clear regarding who first used
“Education Leaders Forum” and “ELF 08” in those specific forms first, namely us, we think that our persevering and constructive approach deserves positive engagement and action in the two areas suggested, not any further delays.

 I therefore look forward to your early response.>

 Yours sincerely

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum

From: Liz Butowicz []
Sent: Wednesday, 2 September 2009 6:24 a.m.
To: Lyall Lukey
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 Dear Mr. Lukey,

I have received your response and email does not seem to be the appropriate avenue for communication regarding this topic.  I have forwarded the correspondence below to Microsoft’s Legal Department and the appropriate business team for a response and they will respond to your inquiry shortly. 

Thank you,


 From: Lyall Lukey []
Sent: Wednesday, 2 September 2009 9:49 a.m.
To: ‘Liz Butowicz’
Subject: RE: UNESCO (Microsoft) ELF 08/09 and New Zealand ELF 07, 08,09

 Dear Ms Butowicz 

Email has certainly not been a very effective means of communication, at least at your end. The replies have scarcely been at the Speed of Thought and the content less than clear and transparent. 

We will forward the correspondence to our Public Relations Department. Some recent large corporate public relations disasters-I’m thinking of United Airlines, in particular-have come about because of the power of new social media to redress the imbalance between individuals or small organisations on the one hand and large corporates on the other. 

Yours sincerely

Lyall Lukey
Steering Team Convenor
Education Leaders Forum


It’s always the way. Our Public  Relations Department had popped out for lunch and anyway was too busy promoting  our ELF09 event (with some success: it’s sold out). She suggested that I press WordPress into action and await further developments.

 We were on the verge of enlisting the Conchord’s New York manager Murray to sort this out face to face with Bill Gates,  until some spoilsport told us that, unlike Elves and Elvis, he (Murray, not Bill) doesn’t really exist.  Oh well, there’s always Helen Clark and she definitely does exist,  in her new reincarnation at the UN  in New York.

That should scare them.

Postscript to Footnote 13 May 2011

Microsoft’s Legal Department have obviously been a bit busy since 2009-and will be busier still with the current Skype buyout. We haven’t received any more (non) communications from anyone in the organisation of the legal or any other persuasion. Meanwhile our ELF11 is almost all hot to trot:


Light Reading – Video – CES Slideshow: Bill Gates Keynote … 7 Jan 2008  Business At The Speed Of Thought

Bret McKenzie (ELF) (0:29)  Education Leaders Forum, Rotorua 14/15 October 2009

 Lyall Lukey 30 August 2009

Testing Times for Schools

February 14, 2009

  “You don’t make a pig fatter by measuring it.”   

Try telling that to a pig farmer, Roger Douglas perhaps, if he’s still in the  business. The epithet may have a grain of truth in regards to one individual pig over a short span of time   Taking a longer diagnostic view and looking at a cohort of pigs and a control group, periodic measurement helps track the added value from different diets and improve porcine outcomes, prematurely terminal though they may be.


The new Government’s early move to institute a national testing regime in schools and provide better reporting to parents has really set the cat among the pigs. Teachers in New Zealand, especially in secondary schools, already have to deal with onerous assessment requirements, especially in respect to NCEA qualifications.


The inevitable suspicion is that not only our children going to be tested more rigorously but so are our teachers and schools. Some fear increased testing as a basis for school funding and performance pay for teachers and think that it will distort the learning system.  Freakonomist Steven Levitt demonstrated that in the 1990s a significant minority of teachers in the Chicago public schools system cheated to boost test results either out of misguided concern for the pupils or, more likely, concern for their own careers in the face of the introduction of rather blunt “high-stakes” tests.


Some take extreme positions: according to the British Professional Association of Teachers the word “fail” should be banned from use in British classrooms and replaced with the phase “deferred success” to avoid demoralising pupils. They argue that telling pupils they have failed could put them off learning for life.


The key is to get the right balance of summative and formative assessment assessment of learning and assessment for learning. Educational researcher Robert Stake uses this analogy: “When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative. When the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.”    He might have added that too many cooks can spoil the broth, especially if they’re using different recipes.


The tricky bit is developing the appropriate metrics to measure knowledge, skills and attitudes at the individual, class and school levels. In the end assessment practices depend on the theoretical framework of practitioners and their assumptions about the nature of human mind and the process of learning. New neurological insights are outstripping learning theory and practice.


Assessment and on-going feedback in a learning context is not just about ensuring a bedrock of minimum standards and fixing learning deficits. Used judiciously it supports the true goal of education: drawing out and developing the talents of individuals and adding to the intangible asset base of the nation in terms of what people know and can do.