Independent facilitators being harassed to favour corporates and private companies: academies on way

By an independent facilitator (with my comments in bold)

I was alerted to the changes in PLD by the principal of a school where I was working in mid-2016. They wanted to apply for central funding as my PLD with the school had revealed a need for further professional development.

Searching online I eventually find the necessary forms for the accreditation process. I don’t know who designs the forms but it took me three days realigning columns so examples of practice, evaluation, evidence, and the criteria/indicators, continue to align after adding or editing text in any of the columns.

[The above were the first signs of where things were heading.]

Accreditation I initially thought was a good idea as it could lead to quality facilitators who really know what they are talking about. They would understand the teachers’ role and the needs of students and how to implement changes that actually work in a classrooms and ultimately raise the achievement of students.

My accreditation forms were completed and submitted in the first week of August 2016. An automated email was received saying my submission had been received.

Further reading on the website talked about the RFP (request for proposal) process but also stated that accreditation was required before undertaking the RFP process. [Got the trick?] It appeared the RFP process was something for organisations to undertake not individual independent consultants.

[I am not going to refer to Kafka except to say I’m not going to refer to it – but there it was: something very strange was happening with the accreditation process.]

I received no further communication until an email arrived with dates for facilitator meetings in a limited number of centres around New Zealand.

I attending a meeting (a return trip of 450km).

[When you are on the outside with the ministry there is a sense of inhumanity in the way it functions. The ministry, you can be sure, is working with the digital in mind and is really only interested in doing deals with corporates and private companies.]

At this meeting it was revealed that being accredited did not mean I could deliver centrally-funded PLD. Only organisations which had an RFP could deliver that and the RFP process had closed at the end of August.

[Are you following this cruel hoax?]

An independent facilitator had actually been told by someone at the ministry he didn’t need to complete an RFP as it was a waste of time.

On returning from the meeting another email had arrived with dates for meetings the following week – including in my home town.

[It was either give it a way or submit to an organisation.]

No individual facilitator at this point knew if they had accreditation – but organisations had the go ahead to deliver centrally-funded PLD provided the facilitator they used had accreditation.

[Close to kaput for independents.]

But the RFP process, you see, will not come up for tender for at least two years.

[Why aren’t the teacher organisations all over this one?]

All independent education consultants, even if they are accredited, are effectively closed out of delivering centrally-funded PLD.

[The control of knowledge is near overwhelming.]

A very neat move by ministry and the larger organisations as most schools have been using independent education consultants to deliver tailored PLD rather than ministry programmes with their not-so hidden agenda.

Quote from website Education Services: 

In tandem with introducing this freedom and choice, the ministry established a number of quality control measures to ensure schools, kura and Kahui Ako could have confidence in the choices available to them.

Accreditation: All facilitators who wish to deliver centrally-funded PLD must complete an application for accreditation, which is assessed by an independent panel.

[By now, you can probably work out what is going to follow.]

All facilitators who deliver centrally-funded PLD must also work for an organisation which has passed an RFP process. This process ensured that a range of professional and legal requirements were met.

[When information was requested it was revealed that organisations had a different accreditation process – their employed facilitators were accredited on a sampling not an individual basis. The reason given was that because they already delivered ministry programmes, their facilitators were covered by internal quality control.]

As results of accreditation began trickling out to individuals the number of independent education consultants – some very well-known and highly qualified educators were refused accreditation with no reasons given.

[An explanation given by my ministry source is that the accreditation process involved a machine that picked up key words in the application.]

More than 50% of independent education consultants seeking accreditation have been turned down.

Karl at the ministry said independent education consultants will have to work under the umbrella of a larger organisation.

Over the next few months the actual changes had ‘unforeseen consequences’.

Facilitators at the larger organisations had no guaranteed work as work depends on schools ‘choosing them’.

Employees at one organisation were told how many hours they had to ‘sell’ in order to keep their jobs.

Each organisation has negotiated rates of pay per centrally-funded hour. Each organisation will be ‘clipping the ticket’ of their ‘independent facilitators’ with no requirement to pay Kiwi Saver, holiday pay, or anything else required by employment law.

[This must have elements of illegality.]

[But get a load of what follows.]

Schools were told they could choose the facilitator they felt met the needs of their school and they need not worry about travel and accommodation costs as they would pay those costs separate to the number of hours the school received. A travel policy was drawn up which gave rates for different distances and quite rightly specified a minimum number of hours to be delivered if travelling out of home area. So far, so good, but a new step was added for facilitators requested by a school out of their home area – the facilitator now needed permission from the ministry to work in any school over 50 km away.  That is every school outside my immediate home town – even when I am the closest facilitator to the school.

The list of organisations that are able to deliver centrally funded PLD is now public and contains the current ideologically-biased professional development deliverers with their national standards fixation.

A list of critical friends for schools to use free of charge has been drawn up (I assume paid for by ministry) to help them work out what PLD schools require. Many of these critical friends are accredited facilitators or work for the ideologically-biased deliverers referred to.

And then there are the new ideological players – all are technology and research companies. Researching the company names shows their core business is in providing hardware and technical support and carrying out research, but with very little if any reference to pedagogical practice.

[Ladies and gentlemen our professional development prospects under this government are grim, the only hope is a change of government – all three potential coalition members are proposing an independent advisory service.

What is happening is a scandal and shouldn’t have been left to me to publicise. My thanks to the brave independent facilitator for her account.

But can you see the wider picture? CoLs are going to be taken over by business people, private companies, and corporates (that’s in the legislation), from there, schools are going to be enticed to be charter schools or academy schools as they are called in England (that’s the main reason why deciles are being abolished – to make funding more standardised) and, as shown above, knowledge will be privatised and, of course, propaganda laden.]

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2 Responses to Independent facilitators being harassed to favour corporates and private companies: academies on way

  1. Melanie says:

    Ever since this became general knowledge last year I’ve been concerned. Even more so now that the Education Council will be overseeing PLD from January 2018. Where has the autonomy gone for schools and teachers as professionals to assess their own needs for professional learning?

  2. Johanna says:

    Hi Kelvin,
    I just read your latest blog and couldn’t agree more with both of the posts.

    I did make it on to the accredited provider list as an independent, after having stern words with the chair of the panel, but a fat lot of good that has done me since, to be able to work, I really need to be working for a preferred centrally funded provider. Talk about ring fencing the process to keep people out and control the information schools can access.

    Luckily some good sorts want to pay me from some other source for my help or I would not be working at all!

    It’s a scandal.

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