Read the latest blog posts from school leadersteachers, more able coordinators and expert practitioners – sharing ideas to improve provision for more able learners. Find fresh inspiration for your own classroom, enrichment initiatives or school policy, and get in touch to share a success story from your own school.

January, 2018

Curriculum, teaching and support

6 reasons to bring mastery to primary English
Getting to grips with mastery doesn’t have to be hard work – far from it. In this blog post (originally published on, NACE associate Sarah Carpenter outlines a simple but effective use of mastery to improve primary English provision for all learners, including the more able…

5 top tips to develop language skills school-wide
Christabel Shepherd, headteacher of Bradford’s Copthorne Primary School, will join the upcoming English for the More Able conference to share the strategies behind the school’s success in creating a rich language environment. In this blog, she previews her conference talk with five top tips to develop language skills across all areas of the curriculum.

Bring your history lessons to life with enquiry-based learning
The National Maritime Museum recently hosted a NACE member meetup exploring approaches to working in depth for the more able. Following on from the event, the museum’s Ben Weddell explains how an enquiry-based approach to history can be used to inspire and challenge learners of all ages and abilities.

CEO’s blog

What does 2018 hold for NACE members?
Sue Riley, NACE CEO

From all the NACE team – a very happy new year!

Whilst you settle back into the term I want to use my first blog of 2018 to share news of NACE developments and details of upcoming member opportunities. Brief updates on DfE, Ofsted and Estyn are also included.

Member-led research

December, 2017

Curriculum, teaching and support

Anne Fine on reading in schools: “pitch it right, take it deeper”
Guest post: Anne Fine OBE

The UK’s recent rise in the PIRLS tables has been accompanied both by praise for schools’ success in boosting reading levels, and by calls to remember that the pleasure of reading is just as important as the mechanics.

Storytelling with Shakespeare
Georghia Ellinas, Head of Learning at Globe Education, explains how Shakespeare’s stories can be used from an early age to develop engagement with oral and written narrative – and a whole lot more…

November, 2017

Curriculum, teaching and support

5 ways to challenge more able learners using maths mastery
In this second of two blog posts, mathematics consultant Belle Cottingham outlines five approaches to ensuring more able learners are effectively challenged within a maths mastery curriculum.

In my previous blog post, I argued that a maths mastery approach holds the key to ensuring our more able learners develop the creative problem-solving skills they need for success – not only in exams, but in life more generally.

Why our more able learners need maths mastery
In this blog post, mathematics consultant Belle Cottingham argues that a maths mastery approach holds the key to ensuring more able learners develop the creative problem-solving skills needed for success – not only in exams, but in their future careers.

“We don’t do differentiation now, we do mastery instead!” I was recently told by a school teacher.

Member opportunity: school-led research on maths mastery
Rising Stars’ Naomi Watson outlines a new opportunity for NACE members to contribute to research on effective support for more able learners in mathematics. Read on to find out how your school could participate…
Broad not bored: a creative curriculum that gets results
Lesley Hill, headteacher of NACE member Lavender Primary School in North London, shares her school’s approach to ensuring the curriculum remains broad, engaging and meaningful – alongside a successful focus on good outcomes for all learners.

Identification and transition

Supporting transition through challenge
Georghia Ellinas, Head of Learning at Globe Education, explains how the challenge of performing a Shakespeare play can support both academic and social transition to secondary school.

October, 2017

Professional development

What does “challenge in the everyday classroom” look like?
What does "challenge in the everyday classroom" look like? This is the question which inspired NACE’s popular seminar series, “Challenge in the everyday classroom”, led by experienced education practitioner, adviser and author Sue Mordecai.

Now in its third year, the series is suitable for teachers, school leaders and more able coordinators, and is offered at both primary and secondary levels. Each one-day workshop focuses on strategies to ensure all learners are effectively challenged and supported, across all areas of ability and all key stages.

Curriculum, teaching and support

Meeting the challenge of the new English GCSEs
At NACE member and Challenge Award-accredited school Chelsea Academy, learners achieved 41 grade 9s this summer. In this blog post, the school’s curriculum leader for English, Emily Rawes, explores the impact of the new English GCSE curriculum on more able learners and their teachers.
September, 2017

Curriculum, teaching and support

Ofsted to share good practice for a broad and balanced curriculum
In this blog post for the NACE community, Mike Sheridan, Ofsted’s regional director for London, previews upcoming research commissioned to identify and share good practice to ensure all learners benefit from a broad and balanced curriculum.

CEO’s blog

New year, new focus on challenge…
Sue Riley, NACE CEO

Welcome back to a new academic year – I hope you feel refreshed for the coming term.

Like NACE, I am sure many of you spent much of the summer preparing for the new academic year – reflecting on policy and development, results and the new challenges that lie ahead.

In my first blog post of the year, I want to share with you some of NACE’s developments – and how NACE members will benefit in the coming weeks and term.

Responding to member views

Research and reports

Fair Education Alliance Report Card 2016-17: key messages
This month the Fair Education Alliance (FEA), a coalition of almost 90 organisations spanning business, education and the third sector, has published its third annual State of the Nation Report Card. In this blog post, FEA director Lewis Iwu outlines key priorities for UK government and schools, to ensure all young people are supported to fulfil their potential, regardless of their starting point in life.

Leadership and governance

Challenge for all: the Maiden Erlegh approach
Reading’s Maiden Erlegh School recently gained NACE Challenge Award accreditation for the third time, marking its continued commitment to high-quality provision for more able learners in a context of challenge for all. In this blog post, deputy headteacher Sara Elliss outlines some of the key initiatives undertaken at the school to ensure more able learners are challenged and supported throughout their studies. 

Whole-school leadership

Supporting more able disadvantaged learners: “marginal gains”
At the 2017 Pupil Premium Awards, NACE member Fullhurst Community College was celebrated as a regional champion for its success in raising attainment for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Deputy principal Tom Hague, who oversees the school’s pupil premium strategy, outlines the key factors behind this success.

July, 2017

Leadership and governance

Translating policy into practice for more able learners in Wales
Siân Farquharson, post-16 challenge adviser and Seren programme coordinator at Education Achievement Service for South East Wales (EAS), explores ongoing reforms to education in Wales and new initiatives to improve provision for more able learners across Wales.
Education in Wales is being reformed. From curriculum to assessment and teacher training, regions and schools are at the heart of this “self-improving” transformation. 

Curriculum, teaching and support

Life without levels: working towards depth
Jennifer Richards is headteacher and headteacher consultant at St Mark’s CE Primary, Aquinas Trust. She outlines the school’s approach to “life without levels” and preparing learners to achieve greater depth.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein

The new grade 9: a challenge and an opportunity
Keren Gunn, senior assistant principal for teaching school and staff development at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy, explores the challenges and opportunities of the new top GCSE grade.

Sir Christopher Hatton Academy is an outstanding (Ofsted 2015) mixed comprehensive, the lead sponsor in the Hatton Academies Trust, a teaching school and lead of the Hatton Teaching School Alliance. It achieved its second accreditation with the NACE Challenge Award in 2015, and is working towards its third. 

Rethinking support for the disadvantaged more able
Colin Parker, headteacher of King Edward VI Aston School, outlines the school’s inspiring approach to admitting and supporting more able learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.
At King Edward VI Aston School (Aston) we have one of the highest proportions of students coming from a disadvantaged background at any selective school in the country, with around 40% of Year 7 and 8 students receiving financial support.
June, 2017

Curriculum, teaching and support

Wevva for Schools: help to shape the app
Professor Simon Colton shares his experience of speaking at the NACE National Conference 2017, and invites NACE members to help develop his new app for schools.
Building independence through marking and feedback
Ynysowen Community Primary School is a successful primary school in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. The school is a Digital Pioneer School for the Welsh government and is a self-improving school. Ynysowen achieved its second NACE Challenge Award accreditation in May 2017.
Tom Hills, deputy headteacher and additional learning needs coordinator, gives an overview of the substantial work the school has done in the area of marking and feedback.

Leadership and governance

Making the most of the NACE Challenge Award report
Tom Cragg, vice principal and line manager of the more able coordinator at Chelsea Academy, describes the steps taken to maximise the feedback given by NACE following the Academy’s successful Challenge Award assessment day.

May, 2017

Identification and transition

From identification of potential to profiling for provision
Becky Catlin, gifted and talented coordinator at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy, explains how a school policy for the identification of more able learners can become a guide to profiling for provision across the curriculum.

When taking on the role of gifted and talented coordinator at Sir Christopher Hatton Academy, and beginning my research into the needs of gifted children, the initial and ultimately the broadest debate I encountered was the problem of how to define and identify giftedness.

April, 2017

Curriculum, teaching and support

Developing a “menu of challenge” for modern language learning
Anna Wynd, head of modern foreign languages at North Oxfordshire Academy (NOA), explains how the school approaches language learning through a “menu of challenge”.

In our approach to modern foreign language teaching and learning at North Oxfordshire Academy, we strive to nurture and encourage our pupils’ enthusiasm and curiosity, offering a varied menu of challenge.

Inspiring able maths students through peer-led workshops
Bonnie Powell, aspirations leader at The Bicester School, explains how inviting a group of sixth-formers to run a workshop has given her school’s able maths students new inspiration.

As part of the raising aspirations agenda at The Bicester School, this year we arranged a maths workshop session for more able Year 11 students. We wanted to deliver something different from their usual classroom experience, and inspire them to consider maths at a higher level.

Monitoring and evaluation

The lasting impact of the NACE Challenge Award at Kennet School
Berkshire’s Kennet School recently attained its third accreditation under the NACE Challenge Award scheme, one of only a small number of schools to achieve this so far. Paul Dick, chief executive of the Kennet School Academies Trust, explains how the Award and underlying framework have helped the school raise standards for all students.

Kennet School is very proud of being only the 12th school in the country to achieve a third-time accreditation of the NACE Challenge Award.