In late January, TEU hosted Designing Together – A Conversation about the Operating Model of Te Pūkenga, a two-day forum designed to initiate discussions pertaining to the co-design of the operating model of Te Pūkenga.

The forum involved more than 65 TEU members; TEU staff; members from other unions in the sector; Te Pūkenga Chief Executive, Stephen Town; five of the six Te Pūkenga Deputy Chief Executives; Director of the Reform of Vocational Education, David Strong; NZQA Chief Executive, Grant Klinkum; and members from the Ernst Young and Ernst Young Tahi teams.

Many great ideas and perspectives emerged out of the forum and TEU members in attendance reported real value from the forum. In particular, they appreciated having a direct link with, and being listened to by, Te Pūkenga senior leaders and other officials. Members asserted that if Te Pūkenga is to successfully fulfil its role and functions in the interest of providing transformative, quality education, it needs to place Te Tiriti o Waitangi, learners, staff, and universal design principles at the heart of its operating model. By doing so, the operating model will be conducive to supporting other fundamental elements of the operations of Te Pūkenga as well as, more broadly, a vocational education system that both empowers staff and meets the changing needs of learners and their whānau, communities, iwi, hapū, and industry.

The primary outcome of the forum was a list of seven key principles which members felt should underpin the operating model of Te Pūkenga:

Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Te Tiriti o Waitangi must permeate every aspect of the operating model, including the remaining six principles outlined below.

Equity: the operating model must be oriented toward eliminating inequality and ensuring equity throughout the tertiary education sector.

Societal transformation: the operating model must be conducive to vocational education fulfilling its function as a public good by meeting the requirements of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES).

Wellbeing: the operating model must involve the principle of mana atua, mana tangata; prioritise student and staff wellbeing; and adopt measures and motivators which involve the evaluation of wellbeing at all levels of the network.

Interrelationship: the operating model must involve the principles of mana whenua and ahu kāwanatanga; that is, meaningful, collegial, and high-trust relationships must be fostered through the practices of co-design, co-production, and transparent communication at all levels of the network, including with grassroots movements.

Consistency: the operating model must balance and accommodate the inevitable tension between harmonisation and varying ‘types’ of flexibility across the network; policies and processes must make clear delegations that allow for responsible autonomy to be exercised; decision-making must involve collaborative processes which apply consistent rules in similar areas of concern.

Sustainability: the operating model must be oriented toward the sustainability of the network as well as wider environmental sustainability; the vocational education system must contribute to the government’s four well-beings – social, economic, environmental, and cultural – across all regional and community contexts.

To read the full forum report, click here. Now that we have the principles which should underpin the operating model of Te Pūkenga, the next step is to collate examples of how these principles should play out in practice across the new network of provision – these examples will be presented to the Te Pūkenga leadership team as the co-design process continues. As such, we will be running a series of Zuis as well as a short survey in order to get your ideas and input.