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Amidst Ministry Of Education Job Cuts, Change Is Most Urgent At The Top

The job cuts within the Ministry of Education announced last week are undoubtedly distressing
for staff, and we wish to acknowledge the stress and upset that the government’s ‘cost saving’
exercise has caused, and will continue to cause, over the weeks and months to come.

Lifting Literacy Aotearoa has long pointed to serious shortcomings in the leadership, strategy,
policy development and policy implementation of the Ministry of Education.

Our criticism is squarely directed at the upper leadership of the Ministry and the educational
‘establishment’ that has been insular, self-serving, protective of the status quo and vested
interests, and not up with the play on evidence-based practice.

“It’s hard to imagine that personnel changes at the advisor level will address the longstanding
failures of leadership in policy and operations at the Ministry. We need to see change at the top”
says Chair of Lifting Literacy Aotearoa, Alice Wilson.

“There are many well documented failures, including the Curriculum refresh, NCEA change
package, provision of PLD, the research strategy, and in property. Lower level job cuts will not
lead to the sort of transformational change required in the sector.”

PLD rollout urgent, but requires clear criteria

Lifting Literacy Aotearoa has been advocating for a change to evidence-based Structured
Literacy, and PLD is due to be rolled out to support this change over the next few months.

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On 11 April the Ministry communicated to schools and PLD providers and facilitators that
applications for the Term 1 Regionally Allocated Professional Learning and Development
(RAPLD) funding have “been realigned to support the Government’s commitment to increasing
literacy rates for all students and upskilling existing kaiako in teaching reading and writing or
pānui and tuhituhi and the use of assessment for learning and aromatawai”.

The email to schools also says that more information about what PLD will be available in future
rounds of RAPLD funding, and how this can be accessed, will be shared in early May.
LLA welcomes this refocus in PLD priorities, but there is a concerning lack of guidance provided
on what constitutes quality PLD provision based on research findings from the science of

The PLD facilitator search function on the Ministry PLD website is of little help.

“The old PLD priorities are still listed, and there is no detail on the specialisation or qualifications
of individual facilitators in providing PLD on Structured Literacy” says Alice Wilson.

The urgency of those details becomes more and more pressing as more and more providers
and facilitators with scant knowledge of the science of reading and structured literacy start to
pepper their marketing materials and ‘programmes’ with those terms, and make claims that they
provide a whole-school approach to structured literacy.

“We cannot afford for the market to be flooded with pseudo-science at this critical point. Right
now it is a case of ‘buyer beware’ when looking for PLD providers” says Alice Wilson.

“At the same time, the government must get the design of PLD provision and the rollout of
PLD right. Rushing into it without safeguards and clear criteria would be another mistake.”

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