Professional learning and development planning

This resource helps principals and boards of trustees to identify the professional learning that will enable the principal to be most effective as a school leader at each stage of his or her career structure.


The resource provides a planning process for principals and boards to follow to develop a mutually agreeable professional learning and development plan. 

If used collaboratively it enables principals and boards, or their representatives, to enter into professional learning conversations well-informed and well-prepared to set a learning and development programme for the principal.

The planning process is interactive. It includes iterative discussion between the principal and the board. This ensures there are no surprises and helps to build a constructive working relationship. It leads to agreement about how the principal can best meet the strategic objectives of the board and the practical support required to do so.

The context of a principal’s learning is the school’s long-term strategic directions and student achievement goals. The board also has a role to support the principal to achieve their individual career aspirations.

The resource complements other available resources to support principals and boards as they plan the professional learning and development component of the performance agreement.

It is one of the options available for assisting with the professional learning and development planning process. Principals and boards can use any parts they find useful, or replace them with other processes they find more suitable.

Proposal template

The information in this resource will help principals to think through and prepare a proposal on their own professional learning and development. 

The principal and the board should discuss and formally agree the proposal. They can also use it throughout the year as a dynamic document to refer to and reflect on. They can agree to adjust it, if required.

You can download our template for a professional learning proposal below or on any of the pages in the resource.

This template offers a structured approach to identifying your immediate priorities for the coming year. It suggest up to three areas of professional learning, but there is no compulsion to have this many. One to two areas may be all that is necessary in your situation.

Contents overview

Professional learning

Planning process model

Identify professional learning needs

Set professional learning goals

Select professional learning opportunities

Review and report on your professional learning


In 2011, the Ministry of Education signed Collective Agreements for Secondary and Area School Principals with their representative unions: Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand, New Zealand Educational Institute and the Post-Primary Teachers’ Association. The Agreements provide for a new career structure for principals intended to support growth of professional leadership and build capacity across the school sector. The new career structure explicitly encourages and recognises the professional growth, leadership and contribution of principals.

It was recognised that some guidance material would be useful to principals and boards in meeting the requirements under s4.1.2 (b) of the Collective Agreements to have a professional learning and development plan in place as part of the performance management process. 

The resource was developed by the Ministry of Education in discussion with the PPTA (NZSPC), SPANZ, NZSTA, Ngā Kura Iwi o Aotearoa and a number of principals.

The material on this website is adapted from the original 2012 publication:

Tags: Professional Learning and Development

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