The Bright Spots Awards are an opportunity for teachers and school leaders to create, trial and iteratively develop, with expert support, new ways of working and innovative practices in their schools.

We know that New Zealand teachers and school leaders regularly design and implement new programmes and approaches to address identified problems and challenges of practice.

Teachers develop new ways to respond to their students’ needs themselves or in collaboration with colleagues. Sometimes teachers adapt approaches developed in other schools or countries.

To date, there has been limited valid and reliable testing or evaluation of these promising practices. Furthermore, successful approaches are rarely shared or scaled up, beyond the school in which they are developed.

Successful applicants for these awards will receive:

  • Up to $30,000 in funding to support the design and implementation of their innovation in Year 1. The funding may be used for teacher release time throughout the year, to fund specialist support, or to cover costs directly related to the innovation. Additional funding maybe applied for to support further development in 2019.
  • Expert hands-on support from the Education Hub, focused on their own project
  • Professional learning in a two-year programme focused on the effective design, iterative development, implementation and evaluation of promising practices

The process

Applications will be sought from any teacher or school leaders with clear ideas about a promising practice or an innovation that they would like to implement in their own school context.

Successful applicants will participate in a two-year programme, delivered by The Education Hub, to develop skills in undertaking in-school research and development. We envisage that the programme will be integrated into and fulfil appraisal and professional learning and development requirements for successful applicants.

The two-year programme will include:

  • An initial one day training workshop focusing on clarifying, planning and preparing the project for implementation - problem definition, innovation development, and creating robust measures and processes for testing impact
  • A one day session at the start of the 2019 school year, to ensure the first round of implementation and testing is ready to commence
  • Regular sessions in the participant’s own school or online to discuss progress and to support the iterative development of each participant’s own innovation
  • A mid-year meeting in year one to discuss data collection and to develop data analysis skills
  • A final presentation and short report of each project at a one-day symposium for all participants and other interested parties

Innovations that have demonstrably led to strong outcomes will be supported to scale up – for example, implemented and evaluated in a greater number of classrooms or schools – in Year 2 of the programme.

June 1st 2018Written applications close: short written application (details below), focusing on explaining the nature of the innovation the schools will be implementing
June and July 2018Shortlisted applicants interviews: Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel. The interview will provide an opportunity for the project team to discuss their written application in greater detail.
Late July 2018Successful projects announced
October 2018Initial workshop and development of innovation plan: The workshop will focus on problem definition, scoping the innovation and how to create an implementation plan, and creating robust measures and processes for testing impact. It is expected that project teams will spend Term 4 ensuring that they have a clear plan for 2019.
January 2019Workshop to ensure the project is ready for implementation 2019
Term 1 2019Implementation and evaluation begins with one-on-one support from The Education Hub Mid 2019
Mid 2019Mid year workshop: To discuss progress and to conduct first round of data analysis
November 2019Report and Presentation



If you require any further information about the innovation grants or have any questions about the application process, please contact Nina Hood –

Application Support Sessions

We will be holding three in person session and two online sessions to help people to complete their applications. The dates and times for the session are:

Wellington, 15th May, 4pm-6pm, Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington

Christchurch, 16th May, 4pm-6pm, Wheki 202, College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury

Auckland, 17th May, 4.30-6pm, Room H203, The Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland

Online: 10th May, 4pm - 5.30pm, further details will be sent to those who register for the session.

Please register to attend these information sessions through our eventbrite page.