2019 Bright Spots Awards champion innovation in New Zealand Schools

HomeSchool resourcesScience of learning2019 Bright Spots Awards champion innovation in New Zealand Schools

2019 Bright Spots Awards champion innovation in New Zealand Schools

HomeSchool resourcesScience of learning2019 Bright Spots Awards champion innovation in New Zealand Schools

By Dr Nina Hood

A charitable trust striving to raise scientific literacy in New Zealand’s primary and intermediate schools is among the winners of The Education Hub’s 2019 Bright Spots Awards, announced today.

The House of Science is one of three award recipients for this year. Each will receive up $30,000 a year for two years in funding and a two year professional development programme. Other successful applicants include an Auckland high school helping build skills in beginner teachers, and a Rotorua primary school boosting learning outcomes for children with ADHD, dyslexia and other underlying cognitive differences.

“We were really thrilled by the high calibre of the applications this year,” says The Education Hub Founder Dr Nina Hood.

“There are passionate, committed and innovative teachers across New Zealand who are working to provide the best educational opportunities for their students. The three awardees that we have selected are addressing areas of need in New Zealand education and have the potential to make a substantial impact, not only in their own communities but also across the country.”

New for Bright Spots this year is the addition of seed grants – funding which supports additional applicants to further develop their thinking and ideas, but in a more limited capacity.

“We decided to introduce seed funding this year because we had several applicants who had really valuable ideas but were not quite at the stage in their thinking and development to have a full Bright Spots Award. However, we wanted to support them and give their projects every chance to be as effective as possible.”

Now in its second year, the Bright Spots Awards recognise educators who are addressing the challenges facing New Zealand schools through innovative solutions and approaches. Developed by The Education Hub, the awards are funded by NEXT Foundation and Cognition Education Trust.

Raewyn Stone, Executive Officer of Cognition Education Trust, says her organisation is delighted to support initiatives that improve opportunities for New Zealand’s young people.

“We have long recognised that there are exceptional teachers across New Zealand, who are developing new ideas and approaches in their schools and ECE centres, and it’s wonderful to be able to support this teacher-led innovation,” says Raewyn.

“We are particularly excited this year to be supporting a Bright Spots project focused on diverse learners. This is an area that we know many schools are struggling with and we believe there is significant potential to share the work and learning being done at Lake Rerewhakaaitu School to other schools across New Zealand.”

Winners of the 2019 Bright Spots Awards are:

  • Raising Scientific Literacy in Primary and Intermediate Schools – House of Science NZ, Tauranga. Desperate to improve science programmes in New Zealand primary and intermediate schools, former Head of Science at Tauranga Girls College Chris Duggan established the House of Science, a charitable trust which develops and delivers hands-on bilingual science resources to primary schools. Initially launched in Tauranga, House of Science resources are now available in 10% of New Zealand primary schools. With the support of a Bright Spots Award, Chris and her team hope they can roll that out to reach all schools nationwide.
  • Seeing Learning Better – Auckland Grammar School, Auckland. Concerned that beginner teachers were not receiving the support and mentoring they needed to best develop their practice, Auckland Grammar School’s Director of Teaching & Learning Dr John Etty developed a more impactful way of providing guidance to classroom newcomers. The project will see the installation of video cameras in classrooms to better capture classroom practice, and the creation of a professional development package that helps teachers interpret the videos to enhance their teaching.
  • Removing Barriers to Success in Learning (Understanding Neurodiversity to Enable Success) – Lake Rerewhakaaitu School, Rotorua. In an effort to improve outcomes for a group of students who were consistently testing below the national average, Lake Rerewhakaaitu School Principal Patricia Purdie-Nicholls and her team set about removing barriers to learning success through targeted PLD for teachers and teacher aides, linking with whanau and local high schools to improve transition, and working with the children to help them better understand their strengths and capabilities in learning. Remarkable results have been achieved in just 14 weeks.

Recipients of seed grants for 2019 are:

  • Raumati Beach School, Kapiti Coast – to help develop a fresh approach to support students’ social and emotional competency.
  • Central Kids Morrinsville Early Learning Centre – to support development of a Ngāhere programme, which will see children, many who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, spend a day each week engaged in nature.



Dr Nina Hood

Nina is responsible for the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of The Education Hub. She is a trained secondary school teacher, and taught at Epsom Girls Grammar and Mt Roskill Grammar in Auckland. She undertook an MSc (with distinction) in learning and technology, and a DPhil in Education at the University of Oxford. Since returning to New Zealand in mid-2015, Nina has been employed as a lecturer at the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland, where she specialises in new technologies in education.

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