Sarah Proctor Thomson v3

More than 75 people have been involved with seven working groups looking at the skills and capabilities the Institute will need in order to create the new world of learning. This work will provide an essential resource for the incoming Council of the new national Institute.

In the coming weeks we’ll meet a cross-section of those involved, hearing about their reflections on the journey to date.

(Please note that these views represent the individual, and not the working group they participated in, the IST Establishment Unit, their organisation or the wider vocational education and training sector.)

Dr Sarah Proctor-Thomson

Working group: New Academic Architecture

1. What is your role and how do you participate in the vocational education and training sector?

I am a Principal Academic at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT). I run sub-degree and degree level programmes in the area of Career Development. I am also Vice President Women, in the Tertiary Education Union.

2. What’s a little-known fact / something you wish people knew about your organisation?

We are lucky to have very high calibre staff at NMIT. They are some of the most dedicated, caring and engaging people I have ever worked with. The commitment of NMIT staff to building their own knowledge of Te Ao Māori and te reo me ōna tikanga is also something that I am really proud to be part of.

3. Tell us about someone who positively influenced own vocational learner journey and what was it that most impacted you?

I have been lucky to have had a number of wonderful people in my life who have guided me in my learning journey. They have all shared the qualities of: being an aspirational role model, conveying a warm interest in me as a person and sharing with me their absolute belief in my capability to achieve my learning goals. They set a high bar for how I aspire to work with learners.

4. What made you want to participate in a ‘Mobilising the New World’ working group?

I wanted to be part of creating a more sustainable and fit-for-purpose sector which:

1) holds the learner at the centre,

2) enhances the role of vocational and skills education in the social, economic and political well-being of Aotearoa,

3) values and fully utilises the expertise, knowledge and passion of staff in the delivery of transformational education.

5. What have you valued the most from being part of the Work-Based Learning Development group?

I have valued working with some fantastic people from across the network of vocational and skills education. Being part of this group has given me a broader perspective of what is going on nationally.

6. How have your skills and experience complemented others in the group?

Having been an educator in the tertiary sector for over 15 years, and a senior member of the Tertiary Education Union, I have a strong focus on the power of collective and participatory models that draw the best from staff knowledge and expertise. I have been able to promote structures that make room for staff voice and also make sure that our workstream proposals consider the practical impact on teaching, learning and research.

7. What has excited or encouraged you about the process?

The willingness of busy people with challenging jobs to take the time to be part of this process.

8. What has been challenging about the process?

The workstreams are trying to chart the course for a revolutionary change to a large system. Working through the interconnections, accountabilities and contingencies within the system while the ground is continually shifting is challenging.

9. What has been the most interesting or surprising part of the process?

I have found it interesting to work in a multi-disciplinary team from across the system including educators, quality managers, CEs and senior leaders. I have particularly enjoyed learning from my colleagues in our Industry Trade Organisations regarding how they do things.

10. What are you most proud of that your group has produced so far for the incoming Council to consider?

I am proud that our group has continued to assert the central role of principles from Te Ao Māori in our New Academic Architecture. Embedding mātauranga Māori and the principle of ōritetanga in the structures of NZIST is only a first step towards ensuring our vocational education and training system serves all of our people in Aotearoa - but it is a crucial one to take.

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