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Lifting learner achievement is one focus of redesigned professional learning and development for the new year. The Education Gazette reports on the process,and what it will mean for students, teachers and schools.
Professional Learning and development (PLD) in kura and schools has a single and compelling purpose: equipping kaiako and teachers to get better results for their learners.
The Government invests $80 million a year on PLD services to be spent on the programmes and providers that will make the biggest difference in individual kura and schools,and across the whole system.
In 2011, the Ministry redesigned the allocation of PLD to be targeted and focused on lifting learner achievement.This new system will be fully operational this year, and this means changes to the way PLD for kaiako and teachers will be accessed.
PLD is an integral part of a school’s planning and reporting cycle. This cycle, which culminates with the submitting of annual charter updates, identifies groups of learners schools want to target to improve learner outcomes. One way of improving these outcomes is to provide PLD which is based on evidence-based need.
It will work in the following way: Step one: needs analysis
The needs of the learners at kura or schools are identified. What does achievement data say? Are there particular groups of learners, or particular year levels, that need more support – or are there subjects where, across the whole kura or school, learners are not achieving as well as they could?
Charters, annual reports, ERO review and self-review processes will all be important sources of information for this analysis. It is the crucial starting point for making good decisions about PLD.
Step two: request PLD
Having identified the needs of learners, kura and schools will contact the senior advisor at the regional or local Ministry office to discuss requirements to see if these needs fit within the Government’s priority areas for centrally-funded PLD support.
The Ministry senior advisor or student achievement function practitioner already working with the school or kura can discuss PLD needs. The request for support form available from local offices can be completed and returned.
Many kura and schools will be accustomed to arranging their PLD directly with a provider. From this year, however, all centrally-funded PLD must be arranged through the Ministry’s regional office.
Step three: regional prioritisation of schools
PLD is just one of the supports available to kura and schools to raise learner achievement. Other support includes the student achievement function, reading together, programmes and resources for students, and learning and change networks.
The regional office will prioritise all the requests it gets from kura and schools to form a region-wide view to ensure that support is targeted to the areas of greatest need.
The regional office will draw together information from needs analysis, ERO reports, feedback from previous PLD providers, variances between charters and annual reports, and from senior advisors or student achievement function practitioners.
The regional office will also take account of how support allocated across each region, including PLD, will raise achievement for the priority groups of Māori, Pasifika, learners with special education needs, and learners from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Step four: finalise the support required
Once the regional prioritisation is complete, ministry senior advisors or student achievement function practitioners will work directly with kura and schools to finalise the support they require. If targeted PLD is needed at a kura or school, the local office will appoint a provider. That provider will confirm needs through a more detailed analysis, and work to agree to a tailored PLD plan to meet those needs. The agreed programme will then form the basis of a memorandum of understanding between the board of trustees and the provider.
What will the PLD look like?
Depending on requirements, kura or school may get PLD targeted at the teachers of specific groups of learners, or particular areas of the kura or school, such as a junior syndicate. There may be all-of-school PLD, and, if the needs are the same, kura or schools in the region can combine for PLD. A key goal of the redesign is to enable this flexibility, and to encourage ‘clusters’ of learning and development across kura and schools.
There may get PLD from a new provider – the Ministry has opened up the field to a much more diverse range of providers, particularly iwi. It has also established clear requirements for the content. The new PLD contracts will cover similar, and in some cases extended content areas. There are also some significant changes.
Identity, language and culture
All PLD providers must recognise and reinforce the central role that identity, language and culture play in learning. Research shows that this is an essential platform for lifting achievement for all learners, especially Māori, Pasifika, learners with special education needs, and learners from low socio-economic backgrounds.
PLD available to secondary schools in 2012 will include support for implementing the newly-aligned NCEA achievement standards.
eLearning has become an important vehicle for education. All PLD in 2012 will include a strong emphasis on eLearning, both in the content of the PLD itself, and the way the PLD is delivered.
Assistance with self-reviews
Kura and schools have different levels of capability in self-review and in using achievement data to identify the needs of their learners. From this year, the PLD available to kura and schools will include assistance in self- review for those who need it.
Online tools are also available to help the self-review process:
Resources to support planning and reporting
“The redesigned PLD aims to lift achievement for all learners, most especially for those groups – Māori, Pasifika, learners with special education needs, and learners from low socio-economic backgrounds – that aren’t currently well served in our system.
“This means that the critical task for principals, tumuaki and leaders is to identify which learners aren’t achieving well, and then identify what PLD will best equip teachers to support those learners.”
– Joanne McEachen, national manager, student achievement function