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Demonstrating lifelong learning: PLD opportunities in 2024

Regular PLD is essential for all school staff to keep their skills up to date, and ensure they are implementing best practice.

Tamariki are changing constantly. Each week, they are learning new skills, making new memories and having new experiences.

Similarly, the classroom continues to evolve. New research on best teaching practices, technological advancements, and the different ways students consume and apply content present challenges. Educators can both role model life-long learning, and take notes from ākonga regarding attitudes to learning and exploring knowledge. Regular, ongoing Professional Learning Development (PLD) is essential to keep skills up to date, foster new ideas, and demonstrate to students that our learning journey is never over.

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As the Ministry of Education notes on Te Kete Ipurangi, “PLD is a major lever for raising and accelerating student achievement. To be effective it must be well targeted, reach the areas of greatest need and recognise that strength in identity, language and culture, together with strong literacy and numeracy skills, are the foundation for continuing learning and achievement for all students in the wider school curriculum.”

There are a wide range of PLD opportunities available, no matter what your role and which skills you wish to pursue. Teacher aides may be aware of the new pilot fund from the Ministry of Education (MoE) geared toward helping teacher aides into PLD opportunities. The fund can cover course fees, the time taken to attend the course and travel and accommodation costs. 

For non-teacher-aide educators looking for funding to pursue PLD, the Ministry of Education has outlined seven PLD priorities. For English-language schools these are cultural capability, local curriculum design, and assessment for learning. For Māori medium kura, priorities include mātauranga Māori and te reo Māori, marau ā-kura and aromatawai. For both English and Māori medium schools, digital skills are also a PLD priority. 

Should the course of your choice fall under any of these PLD priorities, educators may be eligible for regionally allocated PLD funding. More information on the funding priorities and regionally allocated funding is available on the Ministry of Education’s website.

© Konstiantyn Zapylaie, Adobe Stock

School leaders will be aware that MoE funded PLD hours can be organised for whole-of-school delivery; some programmes can also be organised together in school clusters or Kāhui Ako. 

PLD experiences can range from dedicated Post-Graduate and Masters courses to micro-credentials. Bite sized PLD opportunities mean PLD doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult. With the structure of available development opportunities, educators are empowered to incorporate new techniques, pedagogies or theories at their own pace, strengthening and improving upon their existing teaching practice. 

One natural starting point could be the MoE’s Te Kete Ipurangi enabling e-Learning website. On the site, resources are packaged into easy-to-follow online resources that can be implemented individually or among groups of colleagues. School leaders can support their staff to develop goals and record their progress and learning using the e-Learning resources as a guide. 

Educators can also start a learning community or join an existing one, relying on one another as professional resources to access support, feedback and diverse perspectives and knowledge. 

To build digital skills, educators can begin by accessing publicly funded resources such as Kauwhata Reo, a site being developed to support teachers and learners of te reo Māori. Technology online is another site that supports schools to implement digital technologies in the classroom. 

Other free-to-access online resources and short courses include the Science Learning website, which has a range of courses to support teachers in explaining science concepts, curating collections, explaining knowledge systems and more. 

More hands on and face-to-face experiences can be found through myriad local providers who deliver PLD in specialised fields such as literacy and numeracy support. These short credentials and one-off workshops can make a lasting difference in teaching practice if continually followed through and refreshed through practise and review. Although a common complaint is that PLD of this sort is not effective, school leadership and interpersonal support with other school staff ensures that educators continue to review “what works” in the classroom. 

For educators keen on more comprehensive PLD, tertiary providers have a range of postgraduate opportunities available, including postgraduate diplomas, Masters and Doctoral courses. Some providers even offer short PLD courses that can later be credited toward further postgraduate study. The options are endless for educators looking to improve their skills and knowledge, ensuring that their ākonga have the best guidance and support possible for effective learning.

PLD should not be reserved exclusively for educators – all school staff can benefit from learning opportunities. Encourage staff to actively seek out and attend PLD to enhance and develop their skills. Continued PLD will ensure everyone at your school continues to learn, grow and develop alongside your students.

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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