The PLD changes: An unmitigated disaster
A recent paper from PLANZ, the professional association of professional learning providers, makes for very grim reading.
Professional Learning and Development in Change
While some of it might be dismissed as the voice of self-interest, the evidence cited makes a lie of such charges. It also matches pretty closely what PPTA has been hearing from principals and from teachers.
One PLD adviser told us recently that the new system sat really well as part of the government’s neoliberal agenda, because it encourages privatisation and competition to a quite extreme extent.
Our source said, “The new system turns organisations like ours into something akin to land agents, with our facilitators being individualised, and competing with each other to get work. Our organisation is in danger of losing our professionally collaborative community.”
PLANZ reports that that “the pressure to continually secure new work often entails facilitators encouraging the ongoing use of their expertise by school leaders”, in other words, using their presence in a school as an opportunity to tout for further business. And who could blame them?
The new system was supposed to give principals more say in what PLD their school received, and it probably has done that. However, that doesn’t mean that teachers are necessarily getting the PLD they want or need. The financial realities for the providers mean they can’t afford to employ facilitators beyond the subjects that are the government priorities, such as Maths, Science, Te Reo, reading and writing, and digital fluency. If you need PLD in anything other than that, your only possible sources of help are your subject association or your colleagues.
The PLANZ paper tracks what PPTA predicted would happen, significant loss rates in PLD facilitators, and an increasing shift to sole trader or small organisations where there is little collegial support, training, or mentoring.
The concept of PLD facilitation as a career pathway for experienced teachers has all but disappeared. People don’t even have to be registered and certificated teachers to be accredited as PLD facilitators any more. Watch the floodgates open as the IT industry pours in to capture the market for preparing teachers for the new digital technologies curriculum.
And while the new system may mean that principals can apply for the PLD they believe their school needs, it doesn’t mean that all principals and all schools are doing that successfully. The complexities of the application process have resulted in significant inequities, where schools that are arguably the most in need of PLD are the ones that are least likely to have the time and the skills to put in successful applications.