You are here: Avondale College Home - Learning - Innovation Programme

Innovation Programme

Avondale College's Innovation Programme is an education and industry level strategy that aims to regenerate the connections between education and industry in a transforming social and digital world.

Using a systematic framework the programme creates innovators who are able to extend their thinking far beyond today's digital paradigm. 

"Although we've designed a unique learning environment which is about applying innovation for today, we are also focused on developing talent pools and new innovation processes to secure New Zealand’s place on the global stage in the future," explains Mr Brent Lewis, Principal of Avondale College.

"We are gearing our students to drive new knowledge creation systems, always focusing a generation ahead. The structure of the programme involves taking a regenerative approach to the entire system. We are very interested in facilitating a fundamental paradigm shift in education."

Related Links > Innovation Programme brochure

Innovation Programme Video


Today's turbulent and fragmented marketplaces symbolise rapid, multidimensional, change. New digital technologies are transforming many sectors and social behaviours along the way. It is widely reported that many OECD countries are struggling with the pace of such transformation as the chasm between the 'real world' and education widens.

For many countries, this presents unparalleled national and strategic risks with almost incomprehensible alignment challenges, let alone driving innovation ahead of the game.

Contextually, New Zealand's GDP, built upon primary industry and tourism sectors, equates to just 0.02% of Global GDP. The Avondale Innovation Programme challenges churning out low end qualification achievement which is symptomatic of an industrial revolution education paradigm. The net effect is, should the education sector align itself to the needs of a 21st digital market place, it will likely be transactional rather than transformational, and very late in attendance. Worryingly, "Innovation" in secondary schooling remains a rarely-considered learning strategy.

New paradigm education

At an education level and central to establishing the attitudes and behaviours, in driving Innovation, new forms of teaching and learning are being applied.

The programme functions as a real world preparation environment, set within a secondary school. As well new paradigm timetabled classes, students operate as if "employed", clocking in, ready to work, at 8am daily. Saturday 10am to 2pm clinics and full-time holiday workshops bolster a boutique, positive, innovation culture and solutions development environment. Diverse project based assignments mean students develop experience through exciting and real world experiences.

Avondale College Innovation Programme students are immersed in interdisciplinary problems and are empowered to create innovation. Quality academic performance is achieved and innovation flourishes because they employ higher order thinking as a means to manage complexity, solve ambiguous real-world business, community and or social situations. This is so they can "hit the ground running" in many industries and return immediate value, offering a higher level of innovative abstraction.

"What Avondale is doing is offering the students a direct path into the digital technology industry, which is an exciting career option and a great advantage."
- Evan Blackman, Education Sector Manager, Microsoft New Zealand

To create talent who are able to think differently, systems thinking is integrated with design thinking and other knowledge creation principles, as an academic normality. Accordingly, students create and manage integrated NCEA, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft and other industry standard and quality projects, self-managing, gaining valuable industry ready skills through “agile” and “lean” practices. Rather than submitting work to be marked, students increasingly negotiate their own grade outcome using increasingly real-time quantification of thinking quality, professional and 21st Century skills across industry qualifications. This brings credibility and objectivity to NCEA. Level 3, with Scholarship, therefore, forms the new base entry point for all Innovation Programme Students regardless of year level, including Yr 9 & 10.

Related to complexity management training, students develop strong negotiation, interpersonal and presentation skills. The solutions (innovations) they develop are based upon working with clients to produce digital and data driven solutions, including Cloud, Windows, Mobile and Web applications. To do this they experience Hewlett Packard facilities, Microsoft's Visual Studio, database, project and development technologies.



Looking forward

Mature phases of the programme strategy include developing innovation outputs, regardless of subject, at school. The focus of this is to revitalise and accelerate the development existing sector, or market, potential along with implementing a programme that generates talent who are able to define fundamentally new strategic practices (in firms) and or even new markets out of New Zealand creation. To achieve and support the pioneering nature of the programme, expert mentors and robust programme strategy ensures the acceleration of highly motivated "thinking" students into industry practitioners. Integral to this, Avondale College’s strategic partnership with Hewlett Packard, is and will continue to be vital in ensuring technology emergence, industry need and global trends, enabling Avondale and the Innovation Programme to constantly redefine and renew education strategy, as a sector strategy.

Value - International success

By remodelling the end-to-end academy delivery model, graduates from the Innovation Programme are proving they are able to enter industry, tertiary and or entrepreneurial pursuits with creative confidence and assured aspiration. An integral component of the programme therefore, includes Cambridge, Hewlett Packard Institute and NCEA ICT qualifications with interwoven Microsoft certifications. A wave of international success, in the programme, shows students are able to demonstrate proven completion of exciting "real world" innovation projects with practical applications, market ready ICT experience and advanced skills for future employers.

Jayden Cooke and Ashley Mark presented to an Australasian CIO’s conference confirming that these characteristics validate the programme's unique hypothesis, showing students accomplish by:

*     Being interdependent members who are able to pursue their own learning goals in a manner that maximises their student-environment fit in a competitive setting.

*     Succeeding in transferring knowledge and capability through collaborative circumstances.

*     Developing strong industry and social networks that can help innovation projects transform into reality.

The pair stole the show and proudly announced news, proving the effects of integrated real world project based learning, with not one but, three, Top in the World rankings for CIE.

*     Darius Au: 1st in World!

*     Jayden Cooke: 1 Mark Below 1st in World!

*     Ashley Mark 2% Below 1st in World!


 (Watch Ashley and Jayden's presentation below)


The decision to integrate Cambridge International Examinations [CIE], for ICT, with Microsoft qualifications, was reinforced with further compelling evidence. The results of a full year of project based learning, with zero “click this, do that” instruction and zero syllabus guides or text books, came through. The scale of stunning A and B class averages, where students smashed qualifications in IGCSE, AS and A Level was remarkable; where on the other side of the ledger, 60 students, including Year 9 and 10 (in a pilot project), produced CIE projects while blitzing Microsoft's Global and New Zealand average scores. They earned 146 Microsoft Office Specialist, 11 Microsoft Expert and 4 Microsoft Master Qualifications (the pinnacle distinction of thinking quality and digital proficiency).

Reflecting these approaches, Avondale College then dominated the Microsoft National Championships, coming 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th

Where no New Zealand nor Australian team had ever placed in the entire history of Microsoft’s Global Office Championships, Avondale College represented New Zealand placing in the World rankings, against University students, as follows: 

3rd [Bronze] – Jayden Cooke
6th – Darius Au
10th – Di Kun Ong

Further endorsement

Baobin Deng characterised the quality of the 19 software development projects being produced to a high standard. His particular innovation appeared in the main sections of the New Zealand Herald. News then quickly travelled on major global news engines: including to China People.com and 700,000,000 Chinese readers. Setting the tone for future project based industry-integrations, Jayden Cooke summarised the year becoming Top in New Zealand for CIE A Level ICT, 2014!

Value - International success 2014

"From the strategic delivery through to classroom layers, we've integrated 'Systems Thinking' and 'Design Thinking'. As a result the quality of new wave thinking being generated more than responds to industry’s calls for a fundamentally new, education and industrial paradigm." teacher in charge, Mr Paul McClean, elaborates.

This is because Industry prosperity has been held back, for decades, by ever diminishing pools of talent, coming from a secondary system struggling to find an education response to the digital era. This, in New Zealand innovation terms, means a lack of creativity and results in the preserving legacy approaches to enterprise systems (and education):

“We encourage students to become creative, adaptive and collaborative risk takers who don’t just see the future but are willing to create it!”


Transformation passage

The Innovation Programme's network, sector and education innovation strategy transcends to a wide reach and growing industry appeal.

"Avondale College is seriously pushing the boundaries on today’s IT education in New Zealand, and it’s about time!" - Jonathan Jansen, Country Manager – IC Central

"The Innovation Programme's seriously exciting, atypical configuration, is a melting pot for fostering unique performance variables in students and altering the status quo," says Mr Lewis.

With significant programme growth in 2015, both from an industry engagement, strategic and programme development perspective, the opportunities for students to be able to demonstrate their Innovation through proven, tangible, applied and industry credible solutions, with professional experience portfolios, are vast.

Programme partners and or prospective employers, who are engaging strongly to source talent and develop the programme, are consistently saying that: “This proven programme is about generating resilient, resourceful, systems and design thinkers. These are enhanced by real world, industry validated, proven, 21st Century skill development. This creates over the horizon qualities which are fundamental for regenerating New Zealand’s industry, education and educators today, for tomorrow.”

2009 Avondale College Victor Street, Avondale, Auckland New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 828-7024   Fax: +64 9 820-0183   Email: admin@avcol.school.nz