Rob Lightfoot has coordinated more able provision at Haybridge High School and Sixth Form for 10 years. In this blog post, he discusses the benefits of getting involved in the new NACE Research and Development Hubs initiative and the additional benefits of being a NACE member school.
Haybridge High School and Sixth Form first achieved the NACE Challenge Award in 2006. A continuing drive for further improvement, in which more able learners have a high profile, has enabled the school to achieve second and third accreditation in 2010 and 2015 respectively.
The staff at Haybridge work tirelessly so that every student can achieve to their full potential. We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the first three NACE Research and Development (R&D) Hubs, in recognition of our experience and high-quality provision in working with more able learners over a number of years.
As a NACE R&D Hub, we are inviting NACE member schools in our area to join and form a regional network to share expertise, research and resources around supporting learners recognised as more able. Over time, we hope to contribute to new research in the field and envisage that the hubs will share results and recommendations with the NACE community and more widely, through online and print publications, new resource creation, and via NACE’s annual CPD programme.

Launching our R&D Hub…

We are the first of the hubs to run our launch meeting, which took place on 1 May 2018. As a result of our geographical position, all schools present were from across the Midlands. There were 16 colleagues present from 15 schools, and five more who expressed an interest in being involved but were unable to attend the first meeting. We had representatives present from across all phases of education. A number of colleagues sought more information on NACE’s Challenge Framework while others wanted more specific support with the following topics:
  • Support for writing at KS1 and KS2
  • Support for more able disadvantaged learners
  • Support for more able coordinators in schools
  • Developing a growth mindset
For the last two in this list, we were able to point colleagues towards the free webinars on these topics, available to all NACE members by logging in to the members’ site. I have already used the webinar on learning mindset for staff training at Haybridge.
NACE is developing a new three-day course to support those leading on more able provision which is now open for bookings, with an early-bird rate available until 31 August. This, and other NACE materials, will feed into the guidance available at future hub meetings.
An integral part of the R&D Hubs is the opportunity to share best practice. There is so much excellent work being developed across NACE schools, much of which never gets shared. None of us have all the answers, but between us all we can get close to the perfect formula. We are confident that improving our provision for our more able learners has improved our outcomes for all.
One of the privileges of running a hub is that we get the opportunity, first-hand, to see what is being developed in other schools.

Getting involved in action research

Since being accepted as one of NACE’s R&D Hub schools, I have had the opportunity to take part in an action research initiative run by NACE in partnership with Professor Bill Lucas at the University of Winchester. I have developed a number of ideas over the years as to what works in mathematics and I have found it to be an invigorating experience to test one of my many hunches!

The first session of this project, led by Professor Lucas, took us through the process of conducting action research effectively. As teachers, we all had so many ideas and it was difficult to hone our thoughts down to just one research question. I eventually settled on the following:

If I give extended thinking time without direct support, will students better answer multi-layered questions by understanding it is perfectly acceptable to make errors along the way?

I suspect that students who are prepared to take risks and not worry about making errors along the way progress at an accelerated rate when compared to their peers who cannot put pen to paper until they know exactly how to work through a problem. I am concerned that I step in too early to support a student, rather than emphasising the need to start a problem using the knowledge they have already obtained.
The free webinar on learning mindset, available via the NACE members’ site, has been very useful in developing my own ideas for this piece of action research.
I am very much looking forward to our next support session in July, and reconvening next academic year to analyse our findings.

Joining the NRICH ambassador scheme

Through our NACE membership, our mathematics department has also had the opportunity to join the NRICH ambassador scheme. This initiative is run over three termly support sessions, with the aim of developing collaboration and resilience in mathematics alongside the development of curiosity and mathematical thinking. During these sessions we:
  • Receive support with resources, approaches and ideas for our own mathematics delivery and gain confidence to share and signpost with other colleagues in school;
  • Consider how we can use these approaches with our wider networks;
  • Have the opportunity to test and review NRICH materials in development;
  • Contribute to new ideas for NRICH and NACE.
Rob Lightfoot has worked as a teacher of mathematics for 25 years, teaching students across Key Stages 3, 4 and 5. He joined Haybridge High School and Sixth Form in January 2001 as Head of Mathematics. He has worked as part of the school’s senior leadership team for 16 years and has led on curriculum and teaching and learning. Rob has coordinated more able provision at Haybridge since 2009 and has also worked nationally as a lead practitioner with the Specialist Schools Trust on curriculum design.
To find out more about any of the initiatives mentioned in this blog post, or to join your nearest NACE R&D Hub, get in touch.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018