Life Passages & Learning Paths is the theme of Education Leaders Forum 2017 to be held today and tomorrow (23 & 24 August).  The Forum picks up on the work of the internationally renowned Dunedin and Auckland longitudinal health and development studies.

Forum convenor Lyall Lukey says, “By looking at why young people are like they are, educators can gain insights and develop strategies to help them do better. Cross-sector collaboration is needed to make a positive difference to the life outcomes of young people.

“The Forum will provide evidence and examples from on-going birth cohort studies that are helping change the way new generations are cared for and educated. They deepen our knowledge of the genetic and environmental factors affecting their later life journeys and work trajectories.”

Education Leaders Forum 2017 speakers
A key contributor is Dr Phil Silva, OBE, who founded the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study in 1972. It is regarded as the most comprehensive and productive multidisciplinary longitudinal study ever and has generated more than 1200 reports. A living resource for psychologists, paediatricians and other researchers, the study made the cover of Time magazine as “a unique New Zealand study” that shows parents and teachers how to shape children’s futures.



Associate Professor Susan Morton from University of Auckland’s Growing Up in New Zealand study, conducted by the Centre for Longitudinal Research, will also share her research and learnings. The Auckland study is keeping tabs on the growth and development of initially 6,000+ children from a variety of ethnicities. The study aims to improve the lives of their generation and answer the fundamental questions:  What makes us who we are? What shapes children’s early development? How might interventions be targeted at the earliest opportunity to give every New Zealand child the best start in life?

Dr Leon Fourie

Dr Leon Fourie, CEO of Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology is speaking on ‘Preparing our Future Workforce’ and will highlight how the pace of technological change has fundamentally changed our world of work, but it is merely a ripple compared to the tsunami that is looming.

“The demands on the future workforce are rapidly evolving,” says Dr Fourie. “Two thirds of young children entering into primary schools today will work in roles that don’t exist currently. How do tertiary institutions prepare learners for the world of work in such growing uncertainty where a qualification is no longer the passport to prosperity and rapidly acquired, ongoing skills development is becoming the new labour force currency?”

Is research turned into practice?
Longitudinal studies have developed much more understanding of the effects of economic, social and health factors on the positive or negative life outcomes of children and young people in New Zealand.  Mr Lukey says, “But to what extent are the ongoing research findings applied by front-line educators, parents, health professionals and social workers?  By looking at the roadblocks to information sharing and by collaborating, we can develop strategies which place young people at the centre of the professional focus.” Education Leaders Forum 2017 is supported by the Ministry of Education, the Wright Family Foundation and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

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