Education Minister Hekia Parata's announcement there will be
a review of professional learning and development (PLD)
funding in schools has set alarm bells ringing for many Otago
The Government invests more than $70 million each year in PLD
to improve the skills of teachers and education leaders.
However, Ms Parata believed the long-term level of
underachievement in New Zealand's education system would not
be shifted by ''doing what we have always done''.
So an advisory group would be created to establish a baseline
of exemplary practice for professional learning and
development; assess the level to which the current model of
PLD supports exemplary practice; identify the strengths and
weaknesses of the current PLD; identify how the impact of PLD
on teaching quality and student achievement can be most
advise on improvements to the targeting of PLD to lift pupil
achievement; and provide advice on how to achieve the maximum
impact from expenditure on professional learning and
She said the advisory group would include representatives
from the New Zealand School Trustees' Association, New
Zealand Principals' Federation, New Zealand Educational
Institute, Secondary Principals' Association New Zealand,
Post Primary Teachers' Association, Te Runanganui o Nga Kura
Kaupapa Maori, Te Runanganui o Nga Kura a Iwi, New Zealand
Area Schools Association and the Association of Intermediate
and Middle Schools.
Ms Parata said the review was an opportunity to ensure
teachers got the right level of support for their development
needs and were being challenged to raise the achievement of
''We are determined to raise achievement for five out of five
young New Zealanders, and to do that, we must ensure that the
PLD resource is targeted to back our teachers.''
Otago Secondary Principals' Association president Rick
Geerlofs was extremely cautious of the review.
He said principals welcomed it because the present approach
was not ''hitting the mark'', but he believed principals were
also very concerned about where the present funding would
eventually be channelled.
''The minister's announcement, I am sure, will be met with
mixed feelings by the sector.
''In order for this to actually have an impact, we need a
vast majority of the funding to be at the chalk face, where
it can make a real difference.''
Both Mr Geerlofs and Otago Primary Principals' Association
president Stephanie Madden believed PLD funding needed to be
less contestable, more accessible and have a wider focus.
''The ministry has had a very narrow criteria for acceptance
into PLD programmes, usually driven by decile rating,
National Standards data and the percentage of Maori and
Pasifika students attending the school,'' Mrs Madden said.
''Many schools have simply missed out on ministry-funded
professional learning and have had to fund it themselves.''
Mr Geerlofs said schools sometimes did not discover they had
gained PLD funding until well into the school year, which
made budgeting difficult.
He said schools were also encouraged to engage in PLD that
they did not actually want or need.
Both believed PLD needed to be delivered in a timely fashion
and not so dependent on an application process.
''It is heartening to see the advisory group is made up of
professionals and stakeholders from across the educational
sector,'' Mrs Madden said.
''They will need to use their collective wisdom to make best
use of what is an ever-decreasing resource.''