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Frequently asked questions

The following information answers common questions about entering the 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.

The FAQs below relate to the 2017 Awards that closed Friday 17 March 2017.

Current awards status
Winners announced
View the winners


Are we eligible to enter these Awards?

To be eligible for the 2017 Awards, your group’s entry must:

  • be from:
    • a licensed or certificated early learning/childhood service or group of services or
    • a licensed or certificated early learning/childhood service’s management body or
    • a registered school/kura/wharekura, or group of registered schools/kura/wharekura such as a Community of Learning
  • focus on improving outcomes for children and young people – in early childhood education, primary school, or secondary school, in English, Māori, or Pasifika-medium
  • be from a group, team or partnership (entries about an individual are not eligible)
  • be based in New Zealand
  • be based around early childhood and school curriculum documents and education strategies developed in New Zealand and closely linked to teaching and learning
  • not pose a risk to the credibility or integrity of the Awards.

We can't accept entries about an individual or from groups, teams, or partnerships that include a staff member or contractor from a lead education-sector agency (e.g. Ministry of Education, Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, Education Review Office, Education New Zealand, Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Careers New Zealand).

If our entry doesn’t meet one or more of the criteria, will our entry still be accepted?

No. Before you submit your entry, make sure that your entry meets all of the criteria and specifications. If you are unsure, email your question to: or call: 0800 PM AWARDS (0800 762 927).

Can independent schools enter the awards?

Yes, independent schools are welcome to enter the Awards provided all eligibility criteria are met. In particular, the entry must relate to curriculum documents and education strategies that are developed in New Zealand. For example, your entry wouldn’t include data from the International Baccalaureate.

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Entering the Awards

What does our entry need to include?

After checking that you are eligible to enter, your group, team or partnership will download an entry form to write a case study. You'll need to answer all questions and complete every section in the document.

Can we enter into more than one category?

Yes. You may feel that your entry should be considered in more than one category. In your entry form, you will need to select which categories apply to your entry (Question 2).

If you are considering entering into more than one category, you may prefer to complete two separate entry forms. This will allow you more scope to focus each entry, as each entry can only be a maximum of 50 pages.

When answering Question 5, make sure you only answer based on the category/categories you are entering. The answer(s) must align with the category or categories you have indicated in Question 2.

E.g. your group would like to enter the ‘Excellence in Leading’ and ‘Excellence in Governing’ categories, so you would answer based on the category-specific descriptions shown in Question 5.

Leading: Think about what practice needed to change so that leaders and teachers would improve their practice to achieve the outcomes you seek.

Governing: Think about what practice needed to change so that leaders and trustees or managers could focus their actions on improving engagement, leading, teaching and learning.

Refer to 'How do we show what practice needed to change?' (Question 5)

Can we submit multiple entries?

Yes. There is no limit to how many entries for different programmes your group can submit. A separate entry form must be submitted with each entry.

Are all entries in the running for the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award? 

No. The Prime Minister’s Supreme Award winner will only be selected from the winners of the Excellence in Engaging, Excellence in Leading, Excellence in Teaching & Learning, and Excellence in Governing categories.

The winner of the 2017 Education Focus Prize will not be considered for the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award.

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Is there a page limit? 

Yes. Your complete case study must not exceed 50 single-sided A4 pages (25 double-sided pages). This includes all supporting evidence, images, diagrams, figures, tables, appendices and any bibliography or reference list. Your final entry can be fewer than 50 pages in total, but note that entries over 50 pages will not be accepted.

What format should we use?

Use the format provided in the entry form. Your entry must be typed with the following format: Arial font, 11 point font, with 1.5 line spacing and margins of 2.5cm.

What if our entry is over the page limit?

Your entry will NOT be considered if it does not meet the page limit requirement. Refer to the question above, and to the instructions contained in your entry form.

is the BIBLIOGRAPHY/reference list included in the page count?

Yes. Your one page bibliography/reference list is included in your 50, A4 page count. Your entry will not be accepted if your document is over 50 pages.

Can we include hyperlinks to online material within our case study?

No. The expert panel will not view content contained within hyperlinks. We recommend that you cite online content using in-text citations and include the sources in a reference list. Refer to ‘how do we reference’ for more information.

how do we reference?

It is recommended that you reference external sources using an official referencing style such as the American Psychological Association (APA) style. APA includes in-text citations and a reference list at the end of your entry.

can we upload multiple documents online?

No. Only one document (up to 50 pages) will be accepted. Your evidence should be inserted in your one entry document. Save as a PDF file. You are, however, welcome to submit a video file (see below).

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video File

Can we include a video file? 

Yes. You may include one digital video file to accompany your entry. Submitting a video file is optional. Your video file must meet certain requirements for it to be accepted:

Use one of these video file formats when you are submitting your entry: .mp3, .mp4, .m4v, .mov, .wmv

(No USBs, DVDs, or media submitted by email, can be accepted).

Can we include a website link to a video in our entry form?

No. A website link to an online video including YouTube and Vimeo, will not be viewed as part of your entry.

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entry questions

What are the panel of experts and judges looking for?

All entries will be judged on the extent to which they show improved outcomes for children and young people – and how this is linked to the changes in your case study.

The judging panel will evaluate your entry based on:

group contact details: what does it mean by type of learning site?

Your learning site refers to the type of education provider where the learning occurs. For example, your learning site may be a kindergarten, kura kaupapa Māori, kōhanga reo, primary school, middle school, secondary school, area school, Community of Learning etc.

contact details for group: what does it mean by learning medium?

Your learning medium refers to the language or languages that are spoken at the learning site the majority of the time.
For example, your learning medium may be Māori medium, English medium, bilingual etc.

What do we need to cover in the question on 'what did you set out to achieve, and why?' (question 4)

This background section allows you to describe where you started from. This includes the identification of any issues, and the original information on outcomes for children and young people that made you decide that change was needed. You must include data that shows why improvement in the area selected was required.

You can also describe how you identified the partners that were needed, the experience they brought, and where you got the idea for the approach you have taken, including any applicable research.

How do we show 'what practice needed to change?' (question 5)

You need to describe the specific teaching practices and processes you changed to bring about an improvement in student achievement.

This section provides an opportunity to identify the roles that people played in changing outcomes for children and young people. This includes the recognition of how previous behaviours were influencing outcomes, and an understanding of how partnerships may contribute to wider success.

Use the descriptions under this question to tailor your answers so that they link to the Award/Prize categories you are entering.

Refer to 'Can we enter into more than one category?'

how do we answer the question 'how did you make the changes happen?' (section 6)

In this section, you should provide information on the steps you took to make changes, including professional development of teachers, involvement of other organisations, management bodies or schools/early learning/childhood services, changes in teaching practices, involvement of parents/whānau, and the community or targeted interventions.

How do we show the difference the changes made (question 7)?

Every entry will be different, and the outcomes sought will vary. Rather than prescribe a single way of measuring outcomes, the case study approach lets you present the ‘before’ and ‘after’ results in the most appropriate format.

In most cases, your evidence will be provided in the form of data collected at a number of time points that shows a progressive change towards positive outcomes. Where possible this should be compared against a control group or done using an ‘effect size calculation’. Further information about effect sizes can be found at

How well developed does our continued improvement need to be (questions 8 and 9)?

In the two final sections of the case study, you have the opportunity to outline some of the key lessons learned throughout the change process, and identify any strategies to help you continue building on, and sustaining, your successes.

Your next steps will often be a natural progression from the actions described in your case study but they may also make references to new research, other potential opportunities, and the support enlisted from additional partners.

What will help us to prepare our entry?

You can refer to the ‘Resources to Support your Entry’ page on this website.

You may wish to reference other relevant material in your entry. Use in-text citations and include all references in your one page reference list/bibliography.

what evidence do we need to include?

See the evidence section on this website. You can also locate the evidence section by visiting the ‘Resources to Support your Entry’ page.

Remember, the panel of experts and judges will be looking for your group’s evidence, data, and the analysis of this data.

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2017 Education Focus Prize

What is the Education Focus Prize about?

The 2017 Focus Prize celebrates the design of responsive local curriculum, delivered through the innovative use of digital technologies to meet the aspirations of students, their whānau and communities, and achieve improved outcomes for children and young people.

What is innovation?

Innovation entails ‘thinking outside the square‘; using what you know and can do in a different way to try something new (entirely new or something adapted from a different context and tried in a new context) to achieve a significant and positive change.

What does innovative teaching and learning include?

Innovative teaching and learning uses new and adaptive means, including the use of digital technologies to meet the needs of children and young people and enhance their learning opportunities. This should include working with educators, students, families and whānau and the community for better learning outcomes.

It includes both different future-focused ways of working, incorporating digital pedagogies into existing practice within and across the curriculum, and innovative activity in relation to a new design and delivery of the local digital technologies curriculum.

How do digital technologies and/or hangarau matihiko support innovation?

Digital technologies used appropriately and well extend the options for innovative activity to enhance teaching and learning. This might be through changes to infrastructure, practice and/or pedagogy. In effect, digital technologies broaden the scope for significant and positive change to be made, and hence for improvement.

For digital technologies to support teaching and learning appropriate to learning in the 21st century, teachers must be digitally fluent. Using digital technologies well, and appropriately, broadens the scope for innovative change.

Digital fluency is when teachers use existing and emerging digital technologies to change teaching and learning in a variety of ways, to extend, enrich and accelerate the learning experiences of their students. This could include, but is not limited to:

How does innovative activity support digital technologies and/or hangarau matahiko as a specialist content area?

Using digital technologies as a specialist content area, students should be actively engaged in the processes of analysing problems and opportunities, designing, developing and evaluating digital solutions, and creating and sharing information that meets a range of current and future needs, through the application of computational, design and systems thinking, and technical skills.

This supports students to build digital capability. Digital capability brings together the knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes students need to demonstrate when working in digital contexts. Rich learning experiences that are designed to build digital capabilities will enable students to develop knowledge, understanding and appreciation of authentic, relevant and purposeful design. Building the capabilities will also allow students to see themselves as capable, creative and confident developers of digital solutions using digital technologies.

How can using digital technologies enable innovative approaches to support digital technologies and hangarau matihiko as a content area to improve outcomes for children and young people?

The key to any success is teachers developing digital fluency so that they can provide rich opportunities for their students to develop aspects of the digital capabilities, for example using digital collaborative environments with their students to interact with a range of people.

Teachers will also be able to understand the importance of developing the digital capabilities within their students as they are engaged with the digital capabilities themselves. Students learning with, in and about, digital technologies will gain an understanding of how to develop new digital tools and digital outcomes and in doing so also build their digital capabilities.

What do you mean by responsive local curriculum?

Designing local curriculum at early childhood services, school and Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako level involves making decisions about how to give effect to the national curriculum in ways that best address the particular needs, interests, and circumstances of the school’s students and community. It clarifies priorities for student learning, the ways in which those priorities will be addressed, and how student progress and the quality of teaching and learning will be assessed. Local curriculum development should build on existing good practice and aim to maximise the use of local resources and opportunities.

The design of each early childhood services, school’s or Communities of Learning curriculum should allow teachers the scope to interpret The New Zealand Curriculum, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and Te Whāriki in response to the particular needs, interests, and talents of individuals and groups of students in their classes.

Don’t all Communities of Learning, early childhood services, schools and kura already use innovative digital technologies practices?

The flexibility of the current Technology and Hangarau learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa means digital technologies and hangarau matihiko may or may not be included in the individual curriculum of schools and kura.

Although Technology and Hangarau teaching is compulsory from levels 1-5, digital technologies and hangarau matihiko may or may not be included in individual schools’ curricula. Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako, schools and kura choose what context they use to teach the knowledge and skills of the Technology Learning Area and Hangarau Wāhanga Ako.

On 5 July 2016, the Minister announced digital technologies and hangarau matihiko will be strengthened within the Technology Learning Area and the Hangarau Wāhanga Ako of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. This means that digital technologies and hangarau matihiko as a specialist content area will be fully integrated into The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Matauranga o Aotearoa from 2018.

This is being done to support students to gain the skills and knowledge they require to help them meet a range of current and future needs in a rapidly changing society, including being active creators, developers and participants.

In early childhood services digital technologies can currently be used to support learning across all strands of Te Whāriki, particularly the Communication and Exploration strands.

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Submitting our entry

How do we submit our entry online?

Save your entry form as a .pdf file. Save the document as: Entry Form_name of your group.pdf

If you are including a video file, you will save as: Video_name of your group

Entry Form_Maths Department, ABC college.pdf
Video_Maths Department, ABC college.mp4

Use one of these video file formats: .mp3, .mp4, .m4v, .mov, .wmv

What do we do if there is an error message when we try and upload our entry?

If you have any concerns, call 0800 PM AWARDS (0800 762 927) or email

Will you accept our entry after the closing date?

No, entries will not be accepted after 4pm, Friday 17 March 2017. Please ensure you allow enough time to check and save your files correctly before uploading online.
You may like to look at the upload page before submitting your entry online. If you are submitting your entry by courier, we must receive your entry before 4pm on Friday, 17 March 2017.

Do you have a question that isn’t covered here? Email or call 0800 PM AWARDS 0800 762 927.

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