EA-blog-graphics-9

Bright Spots Awards to drive in-school innovation

While we have struggled to achieve system-wide innovation and transformation, there are pockets of innovation and educational success dotted around the country. Much of this innovation is taking place in individual schools, driven by school leaders and teachers who are creating new approaches, constructing new learning environments and providing novel opportunities for their learners in response to the challenges and new demands facing our school system. While effecting positive change in individual classrooms or schools, too often these innovative practices remain unknown and untested outside the school in which they were developed.

The Education HubNina Hood
Founder, The Education Hub

The need for innovation, to ensure that New Zealand’s education meets changing demands and rapidly evolving local and global context, is well established. There have been myriad of reform efforts over the past twenty years, encompassing system-wide school improvement strategies and structural reforms as well as smaller-scale initiatives targeting a particular aspect or group within education. However sustained, system-wide innovation and improvement has remained largely elusive.

While we have struggled to achieve system-wide innovation and transformation, there are pockets of innovation and educational success dotted around the country. Much of this innovation is taking place in individual schools, driven by school leaders and teachers who are creating new approaches, constructing new learning environments and providing novel opportunities for their learners in response to the challenges and new demands facing our school system. While effecting positive change in individual classrooms or schools, too often these innovative practices remain unknown and untested outside the school in which they were developed.

Education lacks an R&D infrastructure, like those in other sectors, that supports the design, rigorous testing and scaling of new practices and ideas developed by schools. There are few opportunities for convening researchers and practitioners in long-term partnerships to test and iteratively develop new practices in ways that are collaborative, innovative and drive continual improvement. And furthermore, there is no mechanism for effectively disseminating and scaling innovative practices developed in one school to other schools across the country. Consequently, schools, and often individual educators within schools, must independently, and without access to tools, resources or specialist support, work to improve opportunities and outcomes for learners.

The Education Hub, with support from NEXT Foundation, has recently launched Bright Spots Awards, in an effort to foster the development and scaling of innovation and promising practices in education. The name of the awards comes from the notion that bright spots – the schools, teachers and programmes that are providing innovative and enriching opportunities and achieving outstanding outcomes for learners – exist across the education system and that there is considerable potential to leverage and learn from their success.

The awards provide the opportunity for teachers and school leaders to design, trial and iteratively develop, with expert support, new ways of working and innovative practices in their schools. Each award is worth up to $75,000 over two years, and will include funding for teacher release time, specialist support, and also to enable the scaling of effective practice to new school contexts. Successful applicants will also receive hands-on support from The Education Hub and the opportunity to participate in a two-year professional learning programme focused on the effective design, development, implementation and evaluation of promising practices.

The Education Hub hopes that the Bright Spots Awards will play a critical role in the educational R&D infrastructure by formalising and supporting the design and experimentation processes that occur in schools and the dissemination of successful ideas and practices. In doing so they would celebrate and validate the knowledge and expertise of educators, positioning them as key drivers of change and development in education.

For more information about the Bright Spots Awards, including an application form, go to http://www.theeducationhub.org.nz/brightspots. Applications are open to any teachers or school leaders working in the school-level sector in New Zealand. Applications close 1 June.


This post is a sponsored story from The Education Hub.


 

Related topics: