FYI: There are more resources coming—we'll add them here once they've been finalised and signed off.

New career opportunities: the proposed concepts

The working group is proposing three key ideas about career development opportunities for the sector to consider.

  1. Retain existing arrangements for school appointed roles-including appointment to base scale positions, allocations of units, appointment of principals, Kāhui Ako roles and resource teacher positions;
  2. Introduce a new framework that sets out clear tiers or stages of career progression for all primary teachers and principals, based on supporting and recognising the development of professional expertise;
  3. Introduce three overlapping focus areas to the framework that will help to provide ‘signposts’ for career development and new opportunities.

The working group has defined career progression as the ongoing development of professional expertise.  This would be recognised by access to increasing professional and industrial recognition.


Amavi, Carl, and Liam explain how the conversations are going so far, and what you'll find in the proposed concepts.


Amavi: Kia ora and welcome to this discussion around our career framework – your opportunity to help shape your own career, and shape teaching for years to come.

Carl: This discussion came out of our 2016 collective agreement. That agreement led to the establishment of a working group tasked with developing a new career framework – one that better suits the aspirations of teachers and principals - and best serves the needs of children in all communities.

Amavi: The Ministry of Education, STA, the Education Council and NZEI Te Riu Roa are all represented on that working group - and shortly we’ll share some of its current thinking. But first let’s briefly recap on some of our ideas that have influenced the group to date.

Carl: The impetus for a blue-skies look at the future of teaching came from you – teachers and principals dissatisfied with the nature of the current career pathway.

Amavi: You described how career development for teachers is currently ad hoc. While we all have access to the same base pay scale our qualifications affect our pay steps!- our career opportunities are mainly dependent on the school we work at .

Carl: Does our school have roles available with units or allowances allocated to them? Do any of those roles match our particular skills, interests and passions - and is that role vacant or likely to become vacant in the future?

Amavi: You told us that the current framework values management talents over all others.

Carl: And that’s fine for those of us who want to move into management - but many of you told us that your primary interest is in curriculum and pedagogy, not management.

Amavi: Nor did all of us want to advance our careers by working in a big urban school. You told us that teachers who work in smaller and rural schools and are committed to those communities, deserve to grow their careers and develop their skills too.

You pointed out that tamariki in our small communities deserve teachers who are have access to career development the same as if they working in a bigger school.

Carl: And you clearly stated that improving learning outcomes in the future was dependent upon keeping passionate educators in the profession – teachers and principals who had opportunities to grow throughout their careers.

Amavi: All of these messages have been taken on board by the working group as they’ve set about their task of coming up with a new framework. It’s been an exacting process – as it should be – and there’s a way to go yet - but we’re pleased to report that there’s a lot of common thinking about where the profession could head.

Carl: In seeking a way forward, the working party looked at models from overseas - because we‘re not alone in recognising the need for a 21st century career framework. They found a number of interesting models but agreed that Aotearoa needs a framework that fits its unique context – one that reflects our communities, fits in with our ambitions and enhances the mana of our profession. So where’s the working group at in its thinking?

Amavi:They’ve come up with a broad concept for us to consider - one they want us to discuss and indicate our support for before they develop detail.

Carl: The underlying principle they’re agreed upon is that any framework ought to focus on improving learner outcomes - and that we do this by developing and recognising the professional knowledge, skills and attributes that contribute to learning. Simply, we need to grow professional expertise.

And to do this we need to broaden our definition of expertise. Currently it‘s largely defined by roles. We are Principals, DPs, APs, team leaders, resource teachers - and so on – and these roles will remain. However they will sit alongside a new framework that recognises expertise in three focus areas.

Amavi: The first of these focus areas or strands is adult to adult expertise - something also known as andragogy. It’s the sharing of expertise and mentoring that many of us do on a daily basis. Many existing management roles require strong elements of this expertise, but it is by no means confined to those roles.

A second focus area is pedagogical expertise – knowledge and skill in working with diverse learners … while the third strand is expertise in curriculum.

Carl: Currently all teachers enter the profession with some expertise across all of these focus areas and they continue to grow this over time. What’s proposed, however, is that the framework will have clear tiers or stages of progression across the three strands – giving opportunities for us to more effectively pursue a particular strength or passion.

Liam: It would offer people pathways to specialise in one or all of those 3 strands. If I think about the example of someone who is interested in special needs, they would be able to develop curriculum knowledge around the types of knowledge that particular kids with special needs need. In terms of pedagogy, explpring how you can best work with them, while in terms of andragogy they would be working with a group of teachers around how they could best deliver those needs. We typically see that role going to someone who's taken on the SENCO role but what we're talking about is a career framework that would allow people to develop expertise in those areas, whether they had the SENCO role or not.

Amavi: You can see how an RTLB role would require expertise in andragogy – working adult to adult - or how expertise in literacy, the arts or PE might gain recognition through the curriculum strand.

Amavi: There are a host of skills, knowledge and dispositions within our profession that are currently under-recognised and under-supported. This career framework seeks to change all that.

Carl: It will provide an opportunity to recognise and support the te reo and tikanga skills of kaiako working in Māori immersion settings. Ongoing development work will include a focus on what this looks like in te ao Māori.

Amavi: So how does one progress along this framework? There’s still a way to go in settling this, but the current thinking is that teachers and principals will progress by demonstrating expertise aligned with professional standards.

Carl: It might be that progression is connected to the annual appraisal process, or it could involve external input similar to the current ACET model or national COL panel, or involve recognition of academic qualifications. As we said further work needs to be done in this space.

Amavi: There’s also work to be done in determining what form recognition might take. It might involve increased remuneration, access to specific roles or other professional or industrial benefits. Importantly the framework would make status portable. If you moved school you would remain in your tier.

Carl: This presentation has been to sketch out the conceptual model and prompt response from you. It is your career, so you need to be engaged in the discussion.

Amavi: We suggest that you take time now to do three things.

Discuss what you’ve heard and consider how your personal goals and passions might or might not be catered for in the concept being proposed.

Carl: Consider what questions and issues are raised by the concept? The working party needs to hear them, but it also wants to hear your suggested ideas and answers.

Amavi: Ultimately the working party wants to tell them if they are on the right track. They genuinely want to know this before they move on to the next phase of developing a detailed framework.

Carl: We suggest you visit the web site and use the resources there to guide your discussions. Those resources are being added to and we hope to have some more video there soon as well.

Amavi: Thanks for your time. Enjoy your discussions and let us know your thoughts. Mā te wā.


1: Existing arrangements

We would retain existing role-based elements of the system-base scale teaching positions, resource teachers, unit allocations, principal roles and Kāhui Ako (Communities of Learning) roles.  Schools would continue to make decisions about appointments to roles and allocation of units.

2: New framework

The proposed framework would set out a series of tiers that teachers and principals can progress through on the basis of demonstrating increasing expertise.  The working group has defined expertise as the knowledge, skills and attributes of professional practice that reflect effective teaching and learning.  Each tier would set out specific expectations for expertise that teachers and principals need to demonstrate in order to move to the next tier. This would be in the form of ‘elements’ that teachers and principals accumulate.  This could include a mix of core elements that apply to all teachers and principals as well as a list of optional elements that teachers and principals choose from, depending on their personal career development and the context they work in.

There would be a variety of ways of demonstrating the required elements, including different assessment processes at each tier of the framework.  This could include in-school appraisal processes, ACET type processes, the national panel involved in Kāhui Ako role appointments, academic qualifications, and others yet to be developed. To ensure that this framework will work in a Māori setting, processes based on tikanga principles and involving iwi representation as appropriate will also be included.

The elements would be aligned with relevant professional standards, against which teachers and principals would continue to be appraised annually.  Many teachers and principals have indicated that their preference is for a single set of standards in the sector so depending on the final version of the standards being developed by the Education Council, the framework will be aligned with these standards and it is likely that the interim professional standards would cease to be used.

Once it has been confirmed that a teacher/principal has demonstrated sufficient expertise elements at one tier they will move to the next tier.  This progression is not dependent on a role being available.  Teachers and principals would remain on that career tier even if they change schools (subject to continuing to meet expectations for that tier).

We are aiming to simplify support and recognition of teachers and principals, so if this framework is introduced, it may replace some things in the collective agreements, including base salary, allowances and service recognition.  These things would be incorporated into the elements at each tier.

3: Focus areas

Elements at each tier would be grouped in three over-lapping focus areas that define the key aspects of teachers’ and principals’ practice. At each tier there would be a number of core elements from all three focus areas that would be compulsory for all teachers and principals. Beyond these, teachers and principals could choose to develop a specialism by concentrating on attaining elements from one particular focus area.  The elements for each focus area at each tier would also allow for skills progression to be set out for that focus area.

The three proposed focus areas are:

  • Adult to adult collaborative learning and development
  • Adult and child learning and development (Pedagogy)
  • Curriculum knowledge