While lockdowns have prevented Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for educators from being delivered in the same way it has been in the past, the Ministry of Education stresses it is crucial that PLD does not to slip due to the Covid pandemic.
“PLD delivery should not be indefinitely postponed because of a lockdown,” says the Ministry. If in-person delivery is not possible due to lockdown level restrictions, “PLD sessions should continue as planned through a virtual platform or video conferencing software.
“The focus… is for PLD delivery to continue as scheduled wherever and however possible. We understand this may mean that compromises may need to be made, but PLD should not be indefinitely postponed because of a lockdown,” says the MoE.
Following the first lockdown in 2020, teams from the Ministry’s National Office, PLD providers, facilitators and a Sector Reference Group of both English and Māori Medium principals and tumuaki, developed the Distance Learning Review Tool.
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This tool is ‘an editable rubric’ for schools and kura to use for strategic and continuity planning for future scenarios of distance and blended learning, in consultation with their Board of Trustees, PLD facilitators, and staff. The Ministry says, “It is designed to help a school or kura identify where they are on certain elements of distance learning, such as parent engagement, device management, wellbeing and the approach to distance learning.”
The tool is available for download (as an editable Word document) on the Ministry of Education’s website.
The role of micro-credentials in PLD
A buzzword to emerge in recent years in the field of PLD is micro-credentials. The definition of these, provided by the NZQA, states, “A micro-credential certifies achievement of a coherent set of skills and knowledge; and is specified by a statement of purpose, learning outcomes, and strong evidence of need by industry, employers, iwi and/or the community.
“They are smaller than a qualification and focus on skill development opportunities not currently catered for in the regulated tertiary education system.”
Consultation on the introduction of micro-credentials as part of New Zealand’s regulated education and training system was carried out in March 2018, with NZQA identifying support for the concept of ‘New Zealand micro-credentials’.
“Programmes leading to qualifications may include micro-credentials as components of learning, provided the overall design of the programme is coherent and meets the qualification outcomes and strategic purpose,” said the NZQA.
“Any micro-credential must continue to meet the NZQA definition and requirements for a micro-credential: i.e. an award that is a stand-alone package of learning, valuable in and of itself, that meets the needs of employers, industry, and/or iwi, hapu and community.”
NZQA says it considers it unlikely that programmes would be comprised entirely of micro-credentials, ‘because each micro-credential would also need to meet the requirement of being an individual award that is a stand-alone package of learning’.
It does, however, not rule out programmes being submitted that are wholly designed with micro-credentials by saying these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Study awards and scholarships
The 2022 TeachNZ scholarship programme will open from 18 October 2021, starting with applications for its 85 Te Huawhiti Career Changer scholarships, which close on 15 November 2021. Each distributes $30,000 per year to successful applicants from all sectors and all areas of study for the duration of their course. Te Waka Whakarei Career Changer Scholarships deliver $30,000 per year of study in Māori medium and te reo Māori, across all sectors, to 90 recipients.
All other TeachNZ scholarships will open for applications on 1 February 2022, closing on 28 February 2022. These include 130 Te Huarau Scholarships, which cover all sectors and all subjects, paying $10,000 to 130 recipients across their whole period of study. Kupe Scholarships are awarded to Māori and Pacific high achievers across all subjects and sectors. A total of 30 of these, award $15,000 to successful applicants over the course of their chosen study.
Post-primary teachers can apply for grants of up to $700 per year to attend a subject association conference or workshop, from the NZ Post Primary Teachers’ Association Te Wehengarua (PPTA). These grants are to be applied for post-event, for courses that are subject-specific – they do not cover general pedagogy offerings. One grant per year is available for applicants to attend one subject associated PLD event and cover registration and, if needed, travel, childcare and accommodation. The PPTA pays these grants to teachers directly, which can be applied for via the ppta.org.nz website.
Remote online learning necessities have exposed weaknesses in the digital capabilities of some education providers and hastened the need for effective PLD in the tech space for teaching staff and across the school spectrum from administration through to leadership. The ongoing, large-scale delivery of digital technology training and development shows no sign of relenting and must be an ongoing, evolving focus for all education providers.
The desire to acquire increasing levels of te reo Māori fluency appears to be on a similar trajectory, with demand for education among the teaching profession sitting at an all-time high. Programmes such as Te Tatau ki te Ao Māori: Opening the door to the Māori world are te reo Māori professional development designed by teachers for teachers. Termed ‘a safe haven for secondary teachers to begin a journey into te reo Māori’, this inclusive programme sits within the PPTA’s PLD Fund, allowing for all ability levels and needs of learners. This kaupapa ‘fulfills responsibilities for teachers by promoting whanaungatanga with colleagues through professional and respectful collaboration’.
Whatever PLD is on the horizon for you and your school or kura for 2022, the PPTA suggests, ‘It’s time to join the reo revolution’.