Photo by Pedro Lastra

You have probably heard the story about someone walking along a beach covered with starfish washed up by the tide. The starfish won’t last long out of the water and there are millions of them. Further along the sand is another person bending down and throwing the unfortunate creatures back into the water. The first person catches up to them and says, “why are you bothering to do that? It won’t make any difference – there’s millions of them!” Without pause the person bends down and flicks another one out into the sea and says, “made a difference to that one”.

This clichéd example has become my answer to a conundrum I found myself in this week.

.   .   .

I woke up on Wednesday feeling rubbish. Luckily, the little voice in my head saying, “don’t be a hypocrite, you write about this stuff, stay home”, overcame the other little voice which was saying, “you have to be at work – there’s so much to do.”

So, home I stayed. And because I wasn’t sick enough to be on intravenous fluids, or admitted to the local ICU department, I tried to get some work done.

Unsurprisingly, my productivity was abysmal. I did manage to contribute to the weekly newsletter, and I did deal with email, but the truth is, it was hard and slow going. Which led me to giving up and doing what I always tell my team to do when unwell – rest.

The rest helped, and with a bit of paracetamol onboard I felt better after lunch – a solid 3 out of 10 at least.

And then I made a mistake. I casually flicked through to the MOE’s list of current reviews and initiatives. (Somewhat ironically, a link to that page is in my ‘favourites’ folder.) I was intending to just have a quick look at the planning and reporting info but in my weakened state, scrolled down the list. Here it is –

Education Work Programme reviews and initiatives:

  • Education Conversation – Kōrero Mātauranga
  • Flood Risk Management Project
  • Curriculum, Progress and Achievement
  • Early Learning Strategic Plan
  • Fees Free tertiary education and training
  • International Education Strategy
  • Learning Support Action Plan
  • National Education and Learning Priorities
  • NCEA Review
  • Pacific Education
  • Review of Home-based Early Childhood Education
  • Tomorrow’s Schools Review
  • Reform of vocational education
  • Wānanga on the future of education
  • Tertiary Education Strategy
  • Ministerial Advisory Group Reviewing School Staffing
  • Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories in our national curriculum
  • National School Redevelopment Programme
  • Improving Classrooms in Small or Remote Schools
  • Free and healthy lunches in schools
  • Healthy active learning
  • Charter schools
  • Digital technologies and Hangarau Matihiko learning
  • Education Resourcing System
  • Holidays Act Compliance – schools’ payroll
  • Data for Wellbeing programme (was Integrated Education Data – iEd)
  • A new way to deliver learning support
  • Rebuilding Christchurch schools 2013-2022
  • Growing our teacher workforce
  • Ministry Engaged 10-Year Property Plan (10YPP) Consultants
  • Te Haratau – lifting the quality of NZ’s physical learning environments
  • Te Mahere Taiao – The Environmental Action Plan for School Property

To be fair, not every item requires my involvement or understanding, but many do and some of them are huge! And if we tease out the topics that directly affect me, it feels a bit like looking at a beach full of starfish. Impossible.

As I’ve never been a fan of giving up, I’ve decided to follow the wisdom of the starfish thrower – focus on the children in my little corner of the beach – one at a time.



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