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More than 450 staff at Otago Polytechnic took part in an all staff day last week which included an update on the work and progress from the IST Establishment Unit. An additional 150 staff joined online as the session was streamed live to 3 other campuses and distance programmes.

Executive Director Murray Strong gave an overview of progress to date and what’s still to come over the next couple of months as the Unit prepares for the legislation to take effect. Most importantly for those present, he gave an overview of what 1 April and beyond would look like for learners, staff, and organisations.

IST Establishment Board Chair Barry Jordan joined Murray for an in-depth Question & Answer session with staff that lasted just over an hour and included a broad range of questions.

“We recognise the anxiety around this change process where a lot is still unknown, and we’re asking those most affected to share their concerns with us so we can make sure the information we provide is relevant and meets people’s needs,” said Murray.

Otago Polytechnic Head of Dunedin Art School, Bridie Lonie said, “There was a clear presentation of the broad scope of changes and their impacts for the next two years, and generous opportunity for questions and input. There are many reasons for anxiety, and it was important to voice these in dialogue between Otago Polytechnic’s community and IST and to work out where to direct one’s energy most usefully.”

Questions asked included the preservation of staff tenure, prioritising sustainable development goals, creating equity for second-chance learners, ensuring iwi partnership is maintained across providers around New Zealand, and measuring educational outcomes/education performance indicators.

Otago Polytechnic Deputy Chief Executive, People and Performance, Megan Gibbons said, “The main benefit was for staff to hear the message from people that are not employed by Otago Polytechnic. The vibe was positive, and staff felt reassured and better understand the changes that are coming. The more communications we can get the better prepared staff are.”

Deputy Chief Executive, Learning and Teaching Services, Oonagh McGirr said, “We were very pleased also to have the opportunity to provide feedback and so help shape the future of vocational education and training in Aotearoa-New Zealand.”

Otago Polytechnic streamed the session to staff at campuses across the country, and to keep staff up to date, staff shared a summary of the presentation and progress on their intranet to keep across the community across changes. Students are being informed via the Otago Polytechnic Students Association, and further progress will be shared with staff via their internal email newsletter.

In a separate session with staff and community leaders, the Unit shared a specific update on work that is part of the ‘name and brand(external link)’ workstream. A video(external link) which captures the essence of the journey to date was simultaneously made available on the IST Establishment website’s homepage(external link) while being shown in Ōtepoti, confirming the Unit’s commitment for people to hear news first from the source.

“We’re pleased to be able to share this video with New Zealand, which outlines a vision for the new national Institute and identifies a preferred name,” said Murray.

“Having now reached this point, we want to stop and ask what people think. The first part of that is having a conversation in person with those who are most affected by the change, followed by online consultation where everyone is invited to participate.”

In the week since the Dunedin visit, members of the IST Establishment Unit travelled to Regional Kōrero hosted by Southern Institute of Technology in Invercargill, Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) in New Plymouth, Universal College of Learning (UCOL) in Palmerston North, WelTec and Whitireia in Wellington, Open Polytechnic New Zealand in Lower Hutt, and Ara Institute in Christchurch.

An additional eight visits are planned from 10-14 February, after which time public consultation on the preferred name will be open online from 14 February to 8 March. After that time the IST Establishment Board will consider public feedback before finalising their recommendation to Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

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