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Suspended, dangling

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

by Steve Saville and Rebecca Thomas

‘How ‘bout them transparent dangling carrots.’

-Alanis Morissette

It is now obvious that the provision of centrally funded professional development for schools is going to look different for, at least, the first half of 2023. It is almost certain that, as the Ministry reviews how PLD is funded and delivered, the way schools can access professional learning and development through a centralised fund will look significantly different as we move forward.

Initially, this might look a little bit scary for schools as they face the prospect of implementing a number of significant initiatives whilst having access to support seemingly cut. There is no indication that this will be permanent, or even a long term reduction in funding for PLD, likewise there is no reason to suspect that any changes to the PLD model won’t be an improvement on the existing system.

So, long term there is cause for cautious optimism, but short term it seems almost certain that there will be a bit of a void developing at the very time that we have an apparent Literacy crisis, as well as important curriculum developments like the ANZH launch, curriculum refresh, and NCEA review changes, all sitting alongside the continuing recovery from COVID learning loss.

The Danger

The danger is that in this void schools will wait, suspended, until they are told what to do and hope for the best. Waiting to see what plan the Ministry has with baited breath. Left dangling could be another way of describing the situation that will greet many schools as they open their doors for the 2023 school year.

Suspended and dangling however, isn’t an option. We can’t have another cohort of students going through the system unsupported, or another year of teaching professionals left waiting to be told what to do. With so much trauma and change thrown at our education system the last three years the only option now is for schools to empower themselves and this needs not be as frightening as it may initially appear.

To be honest the external support that schools have received since the pandemic began has been sporadic at best and, at worst, unresponsive. The best thing we can hope for is our ability as a profession to solve our own problems, in our own way, by listening to our voices from our communities.


A transparent dangling carrot is a device that motivates you even though you can’t see it, or that you’re not consciously aware of seeing, or being led by. Maybe the lack of support on offer will encourage schools to be brave? Maybe the current PLD model will have to innovate and change its support network? This situation must be seen as an opportunity.

The best people who know our schools and their problems are those who live within the walls of a school.

Now you have had a warm summer recharging your batteries, reflect on how far you have come.

Remember the start of 2022? The tsunami of questions and systems you faced as you navigated your way through social distancing, mandates and masks - you did it! You were steadfast and responded to the needs of your people. Now, this year, move from responsive to intentional.

Whatever you choose to do for the next three terms until the PLD injection kicks back in please don’t wait. Don’t wait to grow your teachers, don’t wait to engage with research, don’t wait for an elusive document to drop down from the ivory tower. Take charge.

To be responsive to your needs and your dilemma, we spent the summer putting some ideas down. We want to support you in this time of empowerment. We have put together a book of Engaging Staff Meetings. 18 tools to support you to listen, reflect and act to the needs of the people in your ecosystem. From staff who are anxious about the amount of initiatives on the horizon, to addressing wellbeing and resilience; from leadership teams who need to work with collective efficacy, to exploring why and how we use assessment. The book hopefully has something for everyone.

Happy New Year Leaders, this transparent carrot is for you!

Electronic copies can be emailed to you on the 10th January

Hard copies will be available for posting out to you on 20th January

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