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With a vision for “An equitable and thriving Aotearoa through learning”, CORE Education | Tātai Aho Rau is on a mission to push the boundaries of educational possibilities. Achieving this means having innovative and reliable frameworks that embed change in practice. CORE’s He Ariā Kōkirikiri | Theory of Action is one such framework that has proven effectiveness.

The Ministry of Education announced a number of changes to professional learning and development (PLD) priorities late last year, and emphasis is returning to a broad and deep curriculum that focuses on more than just literacy and numeracy as indicators of success. Part of the change is not only the revision of the professional learning priorities but also the launch of a new online application system for locally-focused PLD.

The new English medium priorities are:

  • cultural capability
  • local curriculum design
  • assessment for learning

The new Māori medium priorities are:

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

Digital fluency remains a priority for all schools and kura.

These priorities take effect from Term 3 2020.

CORE facilitators are deeply experienced in how to frame and support professional learning in the sector in both English and Māori medium settings, including the process of applying for Ministry funded PLD. Our team of 60 Accredited Facilitators can support you with an application, free of charge.

Framing a PLD programme that really gets to the heart of what is going on in any context, and will result in meaningful improvements for a learning community needs a clear, research-based approach. CORE’s He Ariā Kōkirikiri (theory of action) informs how our facilitation team will work with you to design and implement a PLD programme tailored to your unique needs. We will listen deeply to get to the heart of your situation, and apply our knowledge and frameworks as we   work alongside you to design and test ideas that will lead to innovative change.

e Ariā Kokirikiri

Using He Ariā Kokirikiri to framing any PLD or change initiative

Before you begin framing any PLD or change initiative you’ll need to deeply understand what is happening in your context, this will give you the grounding to design and implement the next steps, after which you will see if they worked, then you’ll improve and refine them, and start the cycle again.


  1. Gather data. Ask, look, listen, collate and make meaning of your student achievement information. Get the whole picture, not simply aggregated test information.  What does the professional judgement of your team say is important?
  2. Sense check what you seem to be seeing. Does the data match what you thought you would find? Where are the surprises? Have you collected multiple perspectives – teacher, student, whānau, different cultures, successful groups and those who find the curriculum area a challenge?
  3. Dig beyond the surface features of the data. Are you describing a cause or a symptom? Is teacher pedagogical content knowledge the issue or is it the ability to engage, to differentiate, to enable student agency? Are you sure?
  4. Name and describe the issue you are trying to solve.  Give yourself a realistic timeframe as well. SMART goals keep you focused and give you the filter for the possible PLD actions you could take.


  1. What will success look like? If this PLD ‘works’ what will you hope to see?  Being really clear and specific about this enables you to monitor, review, refine and evaluate your programme in a meaningful and precise way. It also lets you collect formative as well as summative evidence.
  2. What will enough success look like? Do all students need to achieve? Will you use a sample group as a ‘litmus test’ of the effectiveness of the changes? Are you looking for big shifts or just small steps?
  3. What already works? If you have PLD and change processes that work in your setting, then use them with this development focus area as well.  Utilise your effective change leaders. Empower and support them to support this initiative.
  4. Build your leadership capacity and expertise. Sustainability is important. Invest in people and support them to collaborate. More than one person leading a change leaves you less vulnerable if someone moves on, for example. Build a strong foundation for success by including mentoring and coaching for the change leadership team.
  5. Give the PLD time and attention. Sounds obvious, but divided focus often leads to poorer quality outcomes across multiple goals. Be conscious that how people in leadership roles engage (or not) in a change initiative, is taken to reflect its importance.  This usually means it is best if leaders are seen as active participants in all activities.
  6. Give the PLD resources. Starve the development of oxygen and it dies. Sufficient resources in terms of people, PLD time, release time, curriculum support material, and external support  all need to be planned for and provided.
  7. Plan. The old adage that “failing to plan = planning to fail” is true.  Being systematic and purposeful, and choosing PLD activities and expectations that have the goal in mind are all important. Utilise your external experts, but also make your internal ones highly visible and available. Building capability is something you largely do for yourself, not something an external provider ‘does to’ you.
  8. Have clear expectations of actions between PLD activities. How will people be applying and making meaning of the learning they are doing in between the times they engage with internal or external expertise?


  1. Establish checkpoints. Check your progress towards the goals you have set. Are you making the progress you would have hoped? Do you need to change some aspects of your plan to make sure you do?
  2. Be agile. Check-in often. Share and generalise what works. Let people personalise things for their own setting and circumstances.
  3. Celebrate. Celebrate the failures and the successes. Failing means you tried, sharing the failure means others don’t have to repeat it. Generalise the practices and understandings that you have shown work – this is where continuous improvement comes into play.  Any changes that move your setting towards your goal are good ones and remember often change is incremental.


Overall with any change process the goal is to change small and change fast. The experienced CORE facilitators support and work alongside you with He Ariā Kōkirikiri at the forefront of their thinking to meet that goal.

You can contact CORE Education at learning@core-ed.ac.nz, or see CORE’s facilitator map to contact someone directly in your region.


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