Teach First NZ Fellows Programme

TeachFirst NZ (TFNZ) is an independent charitable trust that runs a teaching and leadership development programme in partnership with the University of Auckland. Participants concurrently teach classes in low decile schools and study for a postgraduate teaching diploma. After the two years, TFNZ supports its alumni, to remain engaged in advancing educational opportunity over the long-term.

The project

Cognition Education Trust funded TFNZ to expand its "Te Ahowhai" curriculum and deliver a customised leadership development programme to an additional 25 experienced teachers or “Fellows”.  Although participation was not as high as anticipated, the new TFNZ: Ako Mātātupu qualification- the Masters in Teaching and Education Leadership- has presented a new opportunity to engage with teachers outside of the Fellows programme, as well as informing the creation of the new Masters qualification.  TFNZ has taken responsible for the training of the In-School Mentors who support participants.


Evaluation of the TFNZ programme by NZCER, and other research in h New Zealand and

overseas, identifies mentoring for beginning teachers as the least consistent or most

variable element in new teachers’ induction and early development. Therefore, TFNZ sees the development of their work around supporting and growing mentors as having significant potential to impact not just TFNZ programme participants, but other teachers entering the profession for the first time. 

TFNZ is also considering how an initiative similar to the Fellows programme might be

developed as a re-training course for overseas trained teachers who need to learn the unique context of

New Zealand’s education system before they are appointed to schools. TFNZ are scoping how this might be

designed and delivered, over what timeframe, and who potential collaborators might be. 

Read the Final report

Watch Video-hyperlink

Contact: Jay Allnutt CEO

Jay Allnutt jay@teachfirstnz.org

Other grants

In 2015, with unbudgeted income received from excellent returns on its investments, the Trust made three donations for projects that were consistent with its mission:

Manaiakalani Educational Trust –contribution towards their  Professional Learning and Development programme

Storytime Foundation - contribution to support the establish and management of two pilot programs (Manukau and Far North) to extend their delivery of their Books for Babies (‘B4B’) programme for children beyond current 12-14 months to 24 months

NZ Geographic - contribution towards the wire frame and code development of NZ Geographic’s digital educational resource.

University of Auckland, Dr Maree Davies- Developing Critical Thinking Skills

The Project

This was a longitudinal Student Voice senior secondary school project in critical

thinking (CT) and group discussions, during 2016 and 2017.

The students and teachers were from four co-educational secondary schools in Auckland.

The current study was the third in a series in the field of dialogue and focused on student voice within

small group discussions at senior secondary level in the curriculum areas of English and Geography.  

The initial aim was for senior secondary students to gain confidence in learning to use their voice to

express their critical thinking skills in group discussions that were taught within the project.

However, the wider outcome was that the students in the project also gained confidence in using

their new critical thinking skills outside of the project, i.e. in other curriculum areas and in

conversations with friends, family and the wider community.


One of the key recommendations of this research is that a critical thinking skills framework, 

should be taught to all Year 9 students so that using critical thinking skills become habitual

by NCEA or Cambridge exams.

 The study offers a new and innovative critical thinking model which will be made available to

all schools on the Ministry of Education site and will be accompanied by professional vignettes to be used as teaching resources. 

The findings of this study have been presented at the American Educational Research

Association (AERA) annual meeting in New York on 13 April 2018 as part of an international symposium on classroom talk.

Read final report

Watch Video

Contact: Dr Maree Davies


Whangarei Boys’ High School-Write That Essay

Whangarei Boys’ High School has been a school for day boys and boarders for over 135 years.  In 2016 the school roll was over 1250, with students coming from all over the Far North to attend Carruth House (boarding hostel), as well as serving the wider Whangarei area. Students are 40% Māori .

The Project

This project was a partnership between Whangarei Boys' High School and Dr Ian Hunter and the Write That Essay team designed to be a school wide transformation project to lift academic writing performance.  The project had different strands including deep and detailed analysis of student writing at the beginning and end of year 9. This was designed to identify actual writing needs and build teacher capability through staff PDL writing workshops.

Through targeted faculty work there was training in use of the online writing tool and improvement in the assessments task for internal assessments.

The aim was to have improved student performance in writing and heightened teacher skill in the area of teaching writing. The intention was to share the expertise developed at this school across the Primary and Intermediate schools in our local area.


Comparisons of year 9 test results of those taking part in WTE at beginning and end of 2017, showed:

 51% of cohort improved their writing skills by at least 1 level, broken down as: 

29% writing improved by one level

 18% improved by 2 levels

11% improved by 3 levels

1 student improved by 4 levels

 11% went backwards due to attendance and other issues

38% remained at same level.

 A Write That Essay Committee provided support to teachers in implementing the WTE programme and

PD in form of presentations was given to all staff at the beginning of terms 1, 2 and 3.

Two other schools in the Whangarei COL have been given presentations on WTE.

Watch Video


Contact:  Karen Gilbert-Smith, Principal