Our Approach

The Cognition Way

The Cognition Way is our in-house approach to support the effective co-discovery, co-design, co-delivery and co-evaluation of education improvement initiatives. Read more about our methodology below. 


Schools and systems are often inundated with reform agendas that fizzle out because of initiative fatigue. Our Co-Discovery process is designed to help stakeholders identify the smallest number of mission-critical education challenges to focus all their efforts on. By vectoring in on crusades that everyone gets behind – initiatives are more likely to stay the course. The Discovery phase also includes what we call causal driver mapping. To solve big and hard education challenges we need to deeply understand the causes and the interaction between the moving parts.  


The Co-Design phase is about identifying every possible way that stakeholders can block or reverse the causes of their biggest and hardest education challenges. It involves assessing each potential approach – looking at the global research on effectiveness, the cost and the complexity implementation, fit with local context and probability of impact. At the end of the Co-Design phase – stakeholders have one or more designed initiatives to implement.


The Co-Delivery phase is about bringing the designs to life. Our teams take a hands-on approach with governments, schools and even business/community stakeholders to ensure high quality delivery.  


Evaluation isn’t something we tack on at the end as an afterthought – it’s embedded in all phases of the Cognition Way. We validate our discovery insights; work with stakeholders to build multiple theories of improvement; collaboratively set short, medium and long-term improvement targets; and during delivery, we regularly measure to know our collective impact. Our engagement teams also work with stakeholders to interpret this data to identify how we can collectively iterate the design to significantly enhance the impact. And we repeat this process over and over.


The Cognition Way
The Cognition Way is outlined in Getting to G.O.L.D by Cognition Education Group, Director of Education Dr Arran Hamilton and Visible Learning’s Laureate Prof. John Hattie (Melbourne University).

Te Pātaka – Our Storehouse of Learning 

In New Zealand our professional learning and development focusses on growing the hearts and minds of educators and learners. Te Pātaka represents our approach and focus on creating and cultivating collaborative best practice solutions for your school and Kāhui Ako from our storehouse of research-based offerings. 

How Te Pātaka works for your school

The pou (post) of our Pātaka connects our cycle of inquiry from the whenua (land) to each of our education matauranga (knowledge) kete. Aligned with The Cognition Way, the pou signifies our strength in working alongside educators to drill down and discover what their exact needs are, then we design a plan to meet their specific requirements. The delivery phase brings the solutions to life for schools, communities and Kāhui Ako. We regularly evaluate the process to make sure it’s working for everyone involved.  

The Maihi (arms) of Te Pātaka show how we work with educators and leaders; that being inclusive, caring and valuing all those that engage in the process of learning. Each kete within Te Pātaka is firmly grounded in evidence and research-based foundation. Our profits flow back to improving the opportunities and lives of our ākonga through the Cognition Education Trust.

te pataka

Get involved.

Explore each kete in our storehouse and see how we can support your school and Kāhui Ako.

Te Pātaka

Te Pātaka


Local curriculum design that fits the NZC framework.

We’re passionate about helping schools and Kāhui Ako make a shift (big or small) in the way their curriculums are set up. This is one of the ways we can give young people the best possible start in life and equip them with relevant tools they need to achieve their true potential.

Cognition consultants can support your school to design a local, responsive curriculum that prepares students to be connected, life-long learners. If you’re interested about changing the way your curriculum is designed, we’d love to hear from you.

For more information please contact Jenna Crowley.

NZ Curriculum


Digital technology that makes a difference.

Students and teachers need to thrive in the digital age. With digital technology playing a key role in The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC), and across most areas of modern life, it’s important to constantly innovate and find new ways of using it in the classroom. One of things that can help is Cognition’s Learning with Digital Technology programme. Covering digital citizenship, digital fluency, curriculum digitisation and eLearning, this innovative approach to professional learning uses the latest technology to give your teachers and students an edge.

“Our teachers appreciate the way Cognition works alongside them, revisiting concepts, providing new ideas and encouraging them to think about how these can be implemented to extend student learning”

– Jeanette Small, Deputy Principal at Mairangi Bay Primary School.

If we ever need technical or infrastructural advice, we partner with the awesome team at New Era Technology to find the best solutions.

Want to know more about how digital technology can impact your teaching methods? Get in touch with Jacque Allen.

Digital Fluency


Professional learning can leverage the opportunities and affordances that collaborative practice and flexible spaces offer for learners, teachers and leaders.

Innovative Learning is about making collaborative practice a reality in all learning settings, including flexible learning spaces.  

For schools embarking on new ways of learning and teaching, there is a focus on creating flexible learning spaces that allow for collaborative practice at all levels.  The investment made in the brick and mortar must be supported by professional learning that can leverage the opportunities and affordances that collaborative practice and flexible spaces offer their learners and teachers. 

Many schools are finding that simply redesigning existing space isn’t enough to trigger a transformation in results. If your school is looking for new and exciting ways of learning and teaching, you’ll be interested to know Cognition can help create flexible learning spaces that encourage collaboration at all levels.

Learn more about Innovative Learning by contacting Jacque Allen.

Innovative Learning


Leading a brighter future.

Developing effective leaders at all levels throughout a school is to make sure students keep progressing and achieve their full potential. That’s why our consultants focus on providing a wide range of leadership development opportunities for schools and Kāhui Ako, including:

  • Establishing Boards of Trustees in new schools
  • Supporting Boards of Trustees to make senior leadership appointments
  • Guiding Boards of Trustees on how to run senior leadership team performance reviews and appraisals
  • Assisting Senior leadership teams with reviews of their school-based curriculum and how it aligns with the NZC
  • Looking into and assessing school and classroom practices
  • Developing leadership, coaching and mentoring techniques within Kāhui Ako

Learn more about how Cognition Education can help grow leadership capabilities at your school by contacting Steve Saville. 

Leadership PLD


Increasing equality through transforming classroom and leadership practices 

Our team of culturally responsive PLD facilitators work with schools and other learning organisations to develop the skills and dispositions known to accelerate progress and achievement for all students, including indigenous and marginalised groups.

Cognition’s Relationships First programme is our answer to developing equity and excellence for all. Developed in partnership with Professor Russell Bishop, Relationships First is based on more than a decade of research into the ways that classroom power relationships and traditional teaching methods have failed to support indigenous learners.

Relationships First offers a fresh and proven approach to help all those working in education to meet the challenges of raising achievement levels for particular groups of learners.  Our evidence-based inquiry model is built around a series of workshops and in-school data gathering and our team can adapt the components of the model to meet your specific needs.

Culturally Responsive practice


Effective use of assessment tools can enhance progress and achievement. 

Cognition’s Assessment for Learning PLD gives your school or Kāhui Ako the knowledge and skills needed to get the most out of your assessment information. We can help you design effective assessment for learning practices and advise on how to develop innovative tools and processes to make informed decisions and support student development.

Our consultants will work directly with your staff to help them better understand the assessment information that’s in front of them, then plan and develop effective ways to use it. Their approach is always centred around how to make sure ākonga are supported to be active participants in their own learning.

Want to know more about our Assessment for Learning capabilities? Please get in touch with Micheal King.

Assessment for Learning