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New PLD priorities pave the way for bold approaches with the NZC

Rob Clarke

Rob is the co-founder and CEO of Learning Architects. He supports leaders and organisations to thrive in the future through coaching, development, technology and learning design. He is a Ministry of Education accredited PLD facilitator. He is also a Dad and volunteers as Special Officer - Education for the United Nations Association of NZ.

For more information please visit: or get in touch via +64 21 590 572

Photo Of Students With Laptops

Over the last few years, the national PLD priorities have been focused on learning areas such as reading, writing, maths, te reo Māori, science and of course digital fluency. 

In order to make the most of their professional development opportunities in these areas, oftentimes, schools or kahui ako we’ve worked with have combined two or more topics in one PLD project, for example ‘to raise achievement in writing through digital fluency’, or ‘to lift learner agency across the curriculum through digital fluency’, or ‘collaborative leadership to raise achievement in XYZ’, and so on.

This combined approach reflects our belief that learning – whether for school students or adults – is complex and nuanced, and sometimes hard to distill into one finite area. The new PLD priorities (formerly known as locally-focused PLD, now regionally-allocated PLD) pave the way for bold approaches with the NZC, and of course in how we design professional learning and development.

So what’s changed?

The latest priorities (as outlined below) take more of a big picture approach than those in recent years. They reflect aspects of teaching and learning that are more fundamental to developing a rich, coherent curriculum that is inclusive, responsive, and diverse. 

And it’s quite clear; if we want to develop a curriculum where every student’s language, culture, and identity is valued, affirmed, and honoured, then we need to utilise the diversity of cultural backgrounds, community stories, and values to inform and guide the knowledge that is taught. 

But there is also another critical element we think should be intentionally built into the design of every PLD project, and that’s leadership.

Indeed we have found that building leadership development into PLD projects ensures that solutions are maintained after the project is complete and schools are flying solo. Leadership development has the effect of creating sustainability in the design of the PLD and ultimately a richer learning experience for the school or kura. 

The new National PLD Priorities

In consultation with sector groups and in response to the Education Conversation findings, the Ministry of Education has identified the following new PLD priorities that underpin regionally-allocated PLD:

PLD priorities for English medium settings:

  • cultural capability
  • local curriculum design
  • assessment for learning.

PLD priorities for Māori medium settings:

  • mātauranga and te reo Māori
  • marau ā-kura
  • aromatawai.

And, as our recent lockdowns demonstrated so compellingly, digital fluency is so important in all settings, so it remains a priority.

PLD priorities that develop a rich, cohesive and inclusive curriculum

If you’re leading in a kāhui, school, or kura, you know that having a cohesive, well supported professional learning plan can make all the difference to supporting school improvement and in realising your strategic goals. 

Building on the success of schools combining previous learning area priorities together, we believe that the new PLD priorities allow us to realise the true intent of the NZC – because they are more foundational, and work right across the New Zealand Curriculum.

The way these priorities underpin regionally-allocated PLD reinforces the importance of taking on an all-of-system change approach right across the country, particularly in the area of developing cultural capability. We are excited about these linkages to the NZC, and how the priorities bring back into focus the importance of a cohesive, rich, authentic and culturally inclusive curriculum. 

Which of these can help you realise your big picture?

We are also excited to think about what you, as a result, can achieve for your school community. That said, now that we have the direction, thinking in light of your own big picture, what will your PLD priority be? And more importantly, how might you design it…

Get a 1-page printable resource that describes
each priority with space for your ideas.

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