Helen Cooper

Tumu, Te Aho Ngaiotanga | Professional Learning

Region: Canterbury/Chatham Islands
Helen Cooper FS


Master of Education (First Class Hons) Professional Learning – University of Waikato
Diploma of Teaching – Christchurch College of Education
Bachelor of Fine Arts – University of Canterbury

Professional profile

Helen has extensive experience in the design, development and implementation of professional learning and development programmes.

As a sponsor across Ministry of Education PLD contracts awarded to Tātai Aho Rau Core Education, Helen supports and guides project teams, providing leadership in design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation across Grow Waitaha, Connected Learning Advisory, Centrally Funded PLD and the Expert partners programme. She has been the sponsor across Learning with Digital Technologies, Future Focused Inquiries, Enabling eLearning and the Virtual PLD programme. As a member of Te Toi Tupu Operations Management Group, she supported the coordination and development of programmes and partnerships with Cognition Education, University of Waikato, NZCER and Waikato Tainui College for Research and Development.

Helen is member of the Puaka governance group and co-leads the professional learning opportunities provided through the Grow Waitaha initiative, working collaboratively with Leadership Lab, Massey University, Evaluation Associates and Mātauraka Mahaanui, Ngāi Tahu.

Helen’s role with PLD programmes has involved providing strategic guidance and support for school leaders and facilitators. Helen listens with care to all participants, values all perceptions and ensures she is responsive to local tikanga. Helen tests assumptions and challenges participants to inquire into practice and use data to underpin their decisions. A key focus for Helen is collaborative partnerships and governance, and building effective trusting relationships between schools, providers and iwi, through developing shared vision and agreed ways of working.

Helen has considerable experience in strategic planning, change management and the use of self-review and change management frameworks. She has worked with a range of organisations and communities to explore future-focused education and changing school environments.

Helen came to Tātai Aho Rau in 2011 (then known as CORE Education), from the National Office of the Ministry of Education where she was a Senior Advisor in the eLearning Unit. Prior to that role, Helen was the Senior Advisors Arts responsible for Arts curriculum development, and Arts NCEA implementation.

Helen has a history in professional learning and development for teachers through the school support advisory service (Christchurch College of Education), national assessment (NZQA) and secondary teaching.


Helen has a number of areas of deep professional knowledge.

  • Strategic planning and leadership in times of significant change. Fostering collaborative partnerships and practice, informed by shared understanding of drivers and impetus for change.
  • Future-focused education and innovative learning environments including recent research and the development of new pedagogies for future-focused education and innovative learning environments.
  • Self-review frameworks and models including the use and application of tools to identify, map and measure impact and progress and to contribute to review and visioning. Frameworks and models include the Educational Positioning System, e-Learning Planning Framework, Grow Waitaha Monitoring and Evaluation Tool, Measurable Gains Framework and the Concerns Based Adoption Model.
  • Curriculum design and development and the New Zealand Curriculum.

Personal statement

In a changing world we all need to be active learners. My priority is to support others to value themselves as learners and lead learning, valuing diversity, collaboration, learner agency and wellbeing. Working collaboratively we can achieve so much more than we can as individuals, but it’s complex. My goal is to support providers, leaders and teachers to work together to identify their vision for learning, engaging their students, whānau and community in a shared journey centred on a shared vision for all learners.