What is PTAP about?
The Pasifika Teacher Aide professional development Programme was developed out of a Ministry of Education research and professional development pilot project: ‘Supporting Pasifika bilingual teacher aides in mainstream classrooms’ which took place from June 2005 until January 2006. The aims of the project were to examine the literacy teaching and support strategies adopted by Pasifika bilingual teacher aides working in mainstream classrooms with Pasifika learners.
It investigated teacher aide practices, focusing on the extent and capacity of Pasifika languages utilisation in the support of student learning. Its identification and development of characteristics of good practice has been incorporated in the professional development handbook and programme for teacher aides working with Pasifika students in mainstream classrooms. The programme is composed of a series of workshops designed to support teacher aides working with Pasifika students in English-Medium and bilingual Classrooms. The Ministry-contracted project is directed and facilitated by Rae Si’ilata of the University of Auckland, who also founded the initiative, and has reached more than 250 schools, 250 coordinating teachers, and 660 teacher aides. Rae works with regional facilitators in delivering the programme nationwide. The criteria for selection are wide-ranging and include the number of enrolled Pasifika students, the recommendation of ESOL verifiers, and particularly those needing support in meeting the needs of Pasifika students.
Rae’s team works within three delivery models that the Ministry applies to the PTAP. The first model comprises a series of four day-long workshops that take place over two terms. Rae co-facilitates these workshops with regional facilitators. These regional specialists conduct in-school visits, where they observe TA practice and provide feedback. Rae says that for many, this co-constructed conversation is the first time that a lot of them have been asked to talk about their use of language, and they respond well to the encouragement.