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  • Writer's pictureAmy Croxford

The NITS Framework: A Structured Approach to Inquiry

The NITS Framework, developed by Laurayne Tafa and the 2022 Kāhui Ako ASL Team, is a well-established tool designed to improve educational inquiry. Successfully used within our Kāhui Ako, it has promoted deeper thinking and fostered meaningful conversations among educators. This framework aims to supplement any inquiry cycle, spiral, or process utilised in schools, encouraging thoughtful reflection and strategic action.

NITS breaks down inquiry into four key components: Need, Impact, Time, and So What. Supported by current research, NITS is a flexible tool that serves as a starting point for deeper conversations. This framework is not a prescribed formula but is intended to stimulate thinking and encourage new perspectives. While familiar with your team or staff, it's crucial to carefully contemplate the questions and implications before engaging in discussions.

The NITS Framework breaks down inquiry into four key components: Need, Impact, Time, and So What.

N – Need: Uncovering the Real Issues

Every successful inquiry starts with identifying a genuine need. This involves:

  • Clearly defining the challenge.

  • Gathering data and evidence to substantiate the issue.

  • Understanding who is affected and what their specific needs are.

I – Impact: Visualising Success 

Consider the potential impact of addressing the challenge. This phase is about:

  • Setting high expectations for outcomes.

  • Visualising what success looks like for students, teachers, and the community.

  • Collecting evidence to measure progress and ensure accountability.

T – Time: Mapping the Journey 

Effective planning is crucial. The Time component involves:

  • Establishing short, mid, and long-term goals.

  • Identifying quick wins and potential fast fails.

  • Setting checkpoints to monitor progress.

S – So What: Reflecting and Planning Forward 

Finally, reflect on the broader implications of your inquiry. This stage encourages you to:

  • Consider the next steps and who else needs to be involved.

  • Think about transferable learnings that can be applied in future inquiries.

  • Plan for sustainable improvements and ongoing growth.

Reflection ensures that your inquiry has a lasting impact, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Over the past few years, our Kāhui Ako has been using the NITS Framework with great success. It has fostered a shared language and understanding between schools, enabling more effective collaboration and consistent approaches to addressing challenges. The framework has become a fundamental part of our inquiry processes, helping us to systematically identify needs, plan interventions, and measure impacts.

To implement the NITS Framework effectively, consider the following steps:

  • Collaborate: Engage with your colleagues to explore the NITS Framework together.

  • Define the Need: Use data and evidence to identify the real challenges.

  • Set Expectations: Visualise success and determine how you’ll measure impact.

  • Plan Your Time: Create a timeline with specific goals and checkpoints.

  • Reflect and Share: Think about broader implications, learn from your experience, and share your insights.

The NITS Framework offers a structured yet flexible approach to tackling educational challenges. It encourages deep reflection, strategic planning, and collaborative action, ensuring that every inquiry leads to meaningful improvements. By integrating NITS into your practice, you can enhance student outcomes, support your professional growth, and contribute to a culture of continuous improvement in your school.

For further reading, explore the works of Russell Bishop and Jenni Donohoo.


  • Bishop, R., & Berryman, M. (2009). Te Kotahitanga: Improving the Educational Achievement of Māori Students in Mainstream Education.

  • Donohoo, J. (2016). Collective Efficacy: How Educators' Beliefs Impact Student Learning.

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