The 7 stages of policy announcements

Are you devastated by the state of the education system?
Bewildered by the crazy workload and constant changes?
Wondering how you are ever going to survive?
Tired of being stuck in a complicated career?

This is the time of year and electoral cycle when budget and policy announcements start coming thick and fast. What happens each time is remarkably similar to the seven stages of grieving, but in reverse.

Take Labour’s policy of a nurse in every school, for example:

Acceptance and hope

During this, the first of the seven stages in this policy and budget model, you accept and deal with the potential of the announcement. A moment of carefree, untroubled hope bubbles up as you see the brilliance of the policy. You see a way forward for education in New Zealand.

You start to look forward and actually plan a quality education system for the future. You begin to think about public education without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will anticipate some great outcomes for children, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of teaching.

Reconstruction and working through

As you come down and become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic scenarios for how the money could be spent or policy implemented. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing the education system around the announcement.

The upward turn

As you start to adjust to life with a new solution to advancing public education, your life becomes a little less calm and more disorganised. Your stress increases, and your hopefulness begins to fade.

"Depression", reflection, loneliness

Just when your friends think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of policy analysis, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of policy analysis.

During this time, you finally realise the true magnitude of the unlikeliness that the policy will ever be implemented, or that if it is, funds will be taken from another vital place in education, or health.

You may isolate yourself on purpose; reflect on things you once hoped for in education, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

Anger and bargaining

Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the loss of potential for the youth of today on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships and the possibility of bringing the profession into disrepute may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion. 

You may rail against fate, questioning "Why National, why?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I promise, I’ll attend every working group hui if you just fund it properly").

Pain and guilt

You begin to suffer unbelievable existential pain. Should we be at the table or railing against the system from without? Is collaboration collusion? Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with more than appropriate amount of alcohol or (prescription) drugs. 

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with the ministry or political party. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

Shock and denial

You will learn that the entire political system is stacked against fairness and equity for children and teachers. You may deny the reality of this knowledge at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks. You may wish that it could last forever.

Congratulations - you have made it through the 7 stages of analysing a budget or policy announcement.

With thanks to for the inspiration.




Last modified on Monday, 15 May 2017 16:04