ACEL Conference

The annual ACEL conference brings together school leaders from around Australia and the APAC region to be inspired by other leaders and education researchers. The theme for this year was Respect the Past, Lead the Present, Secure the Future.


In opening the conference, NSW Premiere the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP shared about the value of education for our future growth as a country.



The first keynote speaker was a former Captain in the US Navy. David Marquet is now a leadership expert and the author of the book Turn the Ship Around. He was very entertaining with lots of military anecdotes themed with a compelling  argument for the importance of wise delegation and shared leadership in organizations.


The other keynote that stood out for me was Professor Kirsti Lonka, Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Helsinki, Finland. She gave us an interesting insight into the education system in Finland.


Interesting points:

  • The language of Finnish is about 3000 year old
  • In the 1600s, Finnish people needed to be able to read the New Testament in order to be married. No wonder literacy is so popular in Finland
  • Getting into an teaching course is harder than getting into Medicine
  • Primary teachers usually stay with the same group of students for multiple years, therefore become a very significant adult in their lives.
  • Music, Art, Handcraft & Sport are all vital parts of primary education along with literacy & numeracy
  • Education in Finland is free, paid for by the tax payer
  • Students don’t wear a uniform, it restricts play which is a fundamental source of creativity and therefore a fundamental aspect of the Finnish education system
  • Standardised testing only happens once for Finnish students
  • Students are dependent on ICT and schools are slowly accepting that the students personal digital device are a vital learning & communication tool
  • The key to personal mobile devices is to teach students to use them wisely

The Finnish education system is often put on a pedestal but it looks like they have many of the issues faced by most western systems.  It was pleasing to hear Professor Lonka talking about the leading way Australian schools are using ICT. We have a lot to learn from each other.