Festival of Education conference opening and welcome

Good afternoon. Talofa lava. Mālō e lelei. Hola. Aloha. Salute. Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Kia ora and welcome to the first ever Festival of Education being held here in a sunny and vibrant Auckland city in the wonderful country of New Zealand.

We’d like to extend a very special hello to all our international visitors who have come from all corners of the globe to share their views on where we think education should be heading.

Just a few admin bits and pieces before we start. Firstly, the group of parents protesting the closure of the school out the front of the venue – please ignore them. They are all members of the teaching union and have vested interests. There appear to be a number of children with them who appear to be protesting also. We assume they are the younger members of the union. When entering and exiting the building we ask that you give them a “speak to the hand” gesture.

Secondly, you will notice on your table there is a small carafe of Fonterra milk supplied free of charge through their milk in schools scheme. If you like the milk we urge you to go back and tell the government leaders in your country. This has nothing to do with our fear of losing the entire Chinese market if we have another fake toxin scare, but has everything to do with building our milky links across the world.

Lastly, you will notice a small envelope in your conference pack. Inside this envelope are a range of responses you can give to any media you happen across during the conference weekend. We’ve found recently there has been a bit of negative coverage of education in the local media. Various mishaps, mostly misreporting and misrepresentation by the media rather than through sheer ministerial incompetence, have meant the public have a very negative and cynical view of any government moves in education. We believe it’s important to present a united front and all speak from the same Crosby Textor PR card. Remember to answer all questions put to with the phrases printed on the card. Please do not ad-lib your responses or you will be expelled from the conference.

We are very excited about what is happening here in Auckland this weekend. We have spent over $35 million to bring you many, many speakers from around the world for your enjoyment. There are also a range of performances from award-winning school cultural groups. As well as this we will celebrate a range of excellent teaching from around the country from a many different non-union educators.

This is going to be an excellent conference and we thank you all for coming.

Remember our conference motto: If it doesn’t make the government look good, then it’s not worth doing.

Enjoy your weekend.

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