CORE's Team

Pam O'Connell

Research and Design Lead


2010 PhD in Education - University of Auckland
1982 Diploma in Teaching - Christchurch College of Education
1978 Bachelor of Arts Honours (first class) - University of Otago

Contact details


P: 0800 267 300

M: 021973943

Region: Wellington

Pam OConnell FS

Professional profile

Pam’s career in education began at Aranui High School as a history, social studies and mathematics teacher. It was a great foundation for honing her teaching skills with many opportunities to innovate, learn and come to know her students’ interests, strengths and aspirations.

A move to Wellington in 2000 saw her set up and lead a very successful professional development division of Learning Media. With a team of 30 plus educators she led national professional learning projects in literacy and assessment that had a demonstrable impact on teacher practices and learner outcomes. It was in this context that she undertook her PhD study on sustaining learner gains made through shifts in teacher and school practices.

Pam has worked internationally and nationally on many education panels, groups and projects. As a principal consultant, she partnered with Whanganui Iwi to co-design and implement an iwi-led education response in that rohe. Pam was supported to be critically conscious of the decisions being made in education, recognising where power and privilege impacted, and then how tino rangatiratanga could be achieved in local curriculum design.

She has applied this significant learning in her most recent roles as senior manager at the Teaching Council and then chief adviser at the Ministry of Education working in system design for sector capability-building.

Joining CORE Education in 2020, her strong interest in practice analysis, kaupapa Māori, capability building and strategic action supports her role in service design, implementation and evaluation. She is attested as a cultural capability facilitator.


Pam has a deep knowledge and experience to share with others.

  • Professional learning and development design, system change, national priorities for Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Application of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in educational settings, working collaboratively with Treaty partners in self-determination models.
  • Effective teaching and learning, culturally sustaining practices.
  • Multi-agency collective impact design and implementation.
  • Workforce development, training and development planning, mentoring and coaching.
  • Evaluation and research design.
  • The education sector, government and policy contexts.
  • Business strategy and development and operational management.


  • O’Connell. P. J. (2010). Is sustainability of schooling improvement an act of faith or can it be deliberately crafted? Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Auckland.
  • O’Connell, P. (2003). 'Devising the questions before looking for answers; Literacy Leadership in New Zealand Schools', in Literacy Today, London.
  • O’Connell, P., (2010). Coherence and Inquiry as key dimensions of sustainability of professional learning. Wellington, Learning Media.

Conference presentations, seminars and workshops

  • ICSEI (Auckland, 2007). Panel presentation: Sustaining change in professional learning, with Professor Ben Levin & Mei Lai
  • AERA (Vancouver, 2012). Is sustainability of schooling improvement an act of faith or can it be deliberately crafted?
  • Collaborative Impact Conference (Auckland, 2017) Te Kākahu: Research into Action: An iwi-led response, with Dr Te Tiwha Puketapu.

Awards, fellowships and scholarships

  • 2004-06: New Zealand delegate to the US/NZ Education Policy Roundtable. Pennsylvania and Auckland.
  • 1997: Asia 2000/AFS Scholarship to Indonesia.
  • 1989: Fulbright funded scholarship to attend the New York University American Studies Summer Institute, July-August.

Personal statement

Like many educators, it is important for me to know that together we make a difference in the lives of our tamariki and their whānau. Certainly, my career as a teacher, writer, adult educator, researcher, chief adviser and manager has been shaped by that endeavour.

I better understand now how Te Titiri o Waitangi can be embedded in learning design. There is much to challenge and to do to get this right. In any role, I thrive on collaboration, where many different strengths can be recognised, accessed and employed to solve enduring issues that remain in our system. Mauriora!