Part 2: Responsibilities for, and spending on, professional development for teachers

Ministry of Education: Supporting professional development for teachers.

In this Part, we describe the responsibilities of the main stakeholders involved in professional development for teachers, and our estimates of the Ministry’s spending on professional development for teachers.


Figure 1 is a diagram of our understanding of how the key entities involved in the professional development of teachers relate to each other, and the funding flows from the Ministry to providers of professional development services and to schools.

Factors influencing the demand for professional development

The factors that influence the demand for professional development include:

  • national priorities and new policies set by the Government;
  • each school’s development needs, identified through ERO's school review processes;
  • individual teachers’ personal development needs, identified through an appraisal process and self-evaluation;
  • emerging best practice;
  • society’s and the community’s expectations (which may change over time and also be reflected in other influences on the demand and need for professional development); and
  • the learning needs of individual students.

Prioritisation decisions, including which programmes to fund and which schools and teachers should take part in professional development initiatives, are made at different levels by different stakeholders. We discuss this further in paragraphs 5.15-5.40.

Figure 1
Relationships and responsibilities for professional development for teachers

Bold lines indicate areas where the Ministry has a strong influence on professional development for teachers.

Figure 1: Relationships and responsibilities for professional development for teachers.


The Ministry of Education

The Ministry is the principal adviser to the Government on the education system and it is responsible for ensuring that the system works. The Ministry influences the arrangements for professional development for teachers through policy work on the design and operation of the system and through the National Administration Guidelines and National Education Guidelines for schools (published by the Minister by notice in the New Zealand Gazette), which include requirements for professional development.1

The Ministry influences the provision and use of professional development services by:

  • funding professional development providers;
  • providing operational funding to schools, some of which schools can use for the professional development of their teachers;
  • funding other types of professional development – for example, Schooling Improvement initiatives and scholarships for teachers;
  • monitoring professional development providers and evaluating professional development initiatives; and
  • collating and providing evidence of what effective professional development is.

The Ministry funds a range of public and private providers of professional development services through contestable and non-contestable contracting arrangements. These arrangements provide subsidised professional development opportunities to teachers and schools.

Other Ministry activities related to professional development for teachers include its funding of some scholarships and fellowships for teachers and its involvement with a Work Programme that is part of the primary teachers’ 2007-10 collective employment agreement. This agreement includes the following statement about professional development:

Central to the Work Programme is improving student learning outcomes through recognition and promotion of effective teaching practice and strong professional leadership.

Schools and boards of trustees

Schools are self-managing, independent Crown entities governed by elected boards of trustees. One of their roles is to employ teachers.

The secondary school teachers’ 2007-10 collective employment agreement states that "the employer shall provide reasonable opportunities for appropriate and effective professional development for all teachers".

Schools fund some professional development through the operational funding the Ministry provides. We discuss how schools prioritise their professional development spending in paragraphs 5.29-5.38.

The National Administration Guidelines require boards of trustees to plan for professional development that will give effect to the National Educational Guidelines (see paragraph 2.5).

Professional leaders within schools play a critical role in supporting the ongoing quality of teaching. Professional leaders affirm to the New Zealand Teachers Council that teachers have met the Council’s professional development requirements. This is part of the process teachers follow to renew their practising certificate.


The collective employment agreements for both primary and secondary school teachers require the teachers to meet a set of professional standards, including an expectation that teachers will continue to participate in professional development.

Under the current collective employment agreement with secondary school teachers, a school board of trustees can require teachers to participate in professional development when the school is not open for instruction. This is capped at five days a year for each teacher. Primary school teachers are required under their collective employment agreement to attend school (or elsewhere) when the school is closed for instruction for a range of purposes, including professional development, for up to ten days in each school year.

New Zealand Teachers Council

The New Zealand Teachers Council (the Council) provides an important control on the quality of teachers. The Council is responsible for issuing practising certificates to registered teachers and ensuring that teachers continue to meet professional standards.

The Council will renew a teacher's practising certificate only if the Council is satisfied that the teacher has met the Council's "satisfactory teacher" requirements. These include a requirement for "appropriate professional development" during the past three years.

The Ministry has identified the Council’s registration requirements and Code of Ethics as policies that promote participation in ongoing professional development.

Spending on professional development for teachers

We have found it difficult to quantify the Ministry’s total spending on professional development because:

  • professional development includes a large variety of initiatives;
  • there are many funding streams for professional development, and some of them include components other than professional development; and
  • the Ministry has reported its spending on professional development in different ways in different reports, depending on the purpose of the report.

The Ministry is aware of the range of sources of funding it uses for professional development for teachers. One of the main sources is the Professional Development and Support appropriation. The Ministry spent about $92 million of this appropriation in 2007/08 on the areas covered by our audit. The initiatives within this appropriation and within the scope of our audit are listed in Appendix 2.

The Ministry’s spending from the Professional Development and Support appropriation is the information it usually reports as its expenditure on professional development. However, the amount the Ministry includes in reports depends on the purpose of a specific report and the breadth of professional development initiatives covered by the report.

In its report to the Minister entitled Centrally Funded In-service Professional Development Provision, the Ministry reported spending on professional development activities that constituted "a direct and immediate point of influence for the government". This definition included Schooling Improvement,2

We have estimated the Ministry’s spending on professional development as being more than $200 million a year (excluding GST). Appendix 3 lists the components of our estimate. For consistency, our estimate, where possible, has excluded the cost of relieving teachers and of professional development outside the scope of our audit. We consider relieving teacher costs to be a cost of participating in professional development, rather than a cost of the professional development initiatives themselves.

We note that the Ministry does not generally use some of the information that we have included in our estimate because it is difficult to get accurate, complete, and current information. We acknowledge that there are issues with some of the information we have used; for example, information on schools’ use of operational funding for professional development for teachers. However, we consider it important to identify, as fully as possible, the resources allocated to the professional development of teachers.

The Ministry also receives funding to provide policy advice on, and administer contracts for, professional development. We have excluded this administrative funding from our estimate.

1: National Administration Guideline 2 requires each school to develop a strategic plan that sets out how it gives effect to the National Education Guidelines through its policies, plans, and programmes, including those for staff professional development. National Education Guideline 3 requires each board of trustees to comply with the conditions contained in employment contracts and to be a good employer as defined in the State Sector Act 1988.

2: Schooling Improvement consists of a number of initiatives that are aimed at increasing student achievement where schools are identified as being particularly in need of assistance. These initiatives have focused on effective teaching practice, particularly for the literacy and numeracy subject areas. Schooling Improvement initiatives usually involve clusters of schools rather than a single school. which is not funded from the Professional Development and Support appropriation. The report also stated that “funding devolved to schools, resource and specialist teachers, and arrangements negotiated through collective agreements” were all part of the total professional development investment.

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