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Professional Learning and Development at McAuley High School

McAuley High School has an unrelenting focus on raising the achievement of their Pasifika students. School-based teacher professional learning and development enables teachers to collectively inquire into and identify what works well for their Pasifika students.


Key content

McAuley High School’s teachers put their emphasis on the questions they asked themselves in order to reach where they are at now. Their school has transformed into a safe, happy and supportive environment where their Pasifika students are able to flourish. Teachers participate in a professional community of practice underpinned by processes of inquiry and linked across all school systems and practices, including induction for new staff. While open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, the school’s strategic plan drives the teachers’ professional learning and development needs, with time set aside for that purpose. Expertise within the school is recognised and used. The focus is on what they identify as ‘good practice’ in the sense of what is working well for their Pasifika students.

“Effective communities provided teachers with opportunities to process new understandings and challenge problematic beliefs, with a focus on analysing the impact of teaching on students learning.” 
Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration, page xxvii


Thanks to the principals, staff and students of Aorere College, McAuley High School, Mangere Bridge School, Sylvia Park School, Mary MacKillop School and Wymondley Road Primary School for their contribution.

Things to think about

  • What role does professional development play in your school? How is it managed? Does the professional development help you share insights into what works and what doesn’t work for Pasifika students? If not, why not?
  • Do you have any professional development specifically around Pasifika student learning and achievement? Is it useful? How do you know? How do you put it into practice?
  • Do you share any professional development around your Pasifika students’ learning and achievement with others outside your school? How? To what effect?
  • To what extent is your school’s professional development strategically aligned to your school’s vision?
  • Does your school have a collective focus on raising the achievement of its Pasifika students? If so, how is that supported in your professional learning and development opportunities and professional networks?


Anne Miles - Principal
In our strategic plan we have identified goals for each year and we base our professional development around those goals. With the alignment of standards, with the curriculum that was introduced formally this year, our professional development is concentrated on those areas. And every Thursday morning we have professional development for staff, in addition to that we have departmental professional development, we also have a professional development programme that will identify teachers individual needs so that they can go on courses or wherever needed. But we have a very wide field of expertise amongst our staff, and its important before you go looking elsewhere to look within. And we've got staff here who are superb with different aspects of teaching, and so we get them to run professional development.

Moyeen McCoy - Teacher
We do have literacy PD that is done for the staff, and normally that is done by me as the head of English and what I have to do then is to try and understand the needs and demands of different subject areas. So I have to go and talk to people, other heads of department, and find out what they need and suit the PD to that.

Anu Patel - Teacher
Where a class is particularly difficult we come together as a group of teachers to look at what works in one area, and what doesn't, and it might just be a case that the class hasn't quite gelled or settled down, or different learning techniques that work well in one area than the other. I think as the need arises we set up those meetings so they’re flexible depending on what needs to be done.

Nola Dougall – Deputy Principal
With our beginning teachers they are timetabled, we have a six day timetable, and they are timetabled for a Provisionary Registered Teachers meeting once in that six day cycle.

ACTUALITY - Provisionary Registered Teachers meeting

Reshmi Kumar - Teacher
When new teachers join our community it is important that they want to belong and that we get them to want to belong. So all teachers who come in new to our community they bring with them their own identity, their own set of personal beliefs and it is very very important for them to see our vision where we are going.

ACTUALITY - Provisionary Registered Teachers meeting

They go through the rigorous training programme at teachers college that is the professional knowledge that they come into the community with. However it is very very important for them to move from that into professional engagement, and that's where we come in. We encourage these meetings, we encourage professional discussion, we encourage effective strategies that work for our students. And we are very open to the new ideas that new teachers bring into our community and I think that is really really important. And that we way build together a community that we are all part of and work towards.