This month Episkopi Primary School in Cyprus became the second school outside the UK to gain the NACE Challenge Award – following in the footsteps of Malta’s Chiswick House School. Assistant Headteacher Rebecca Ross explains how the school has worked collaboratively within a cluster to develop high-quality provision for more able learners, in the context of challenge for all.
 
There is a shared partnership agreement across the six UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) schools based in Cyprus. We work in collaboration to achieve joint goals and most recently have been developing provision further for the more able. All the MoD schools on the island have followed the NACE Challenge Framework, which has ensured consistency in approaches, and has had a huge impact on provision for more able learners across the curriculum.
 
Below are five areas of collaboration we’ve found effective:

1. Whole-cluster meetings for more able leaders

While there is quite a distance between the schools, collaboration is of high importance and regular meetings for more able leaders has been essential for developing consistency. Investing in whole-day meetings allows quality time to focus on moderation, assessment and enrichment opportunities. More able leaders each take turns in hosting the meetings at their school. This has been a great opportunity for leaders to tour each school and share best practice. Subject leaders have also collaborated in this way, using the supporting resources provided alongside the Challenge Framework to audit their subjects. These resources have been particularly useful when identifying the characteristics of more able learners in specific subjects and collaborating on strategies to support them to reach their full potential.

2. Building partnerships beyond the cluster

Being on a small island does not limit the opportunities for our learners. All our schools are outward-facing and proactive in seeking a range of partnerships to create innovative opportunities for learning and progression. Budget cuts could limit opportunities, but as a cluster we overcome this by sharing costs and working collaboratively to build quality and sustainable partnerships. Strong links have been made with universities in the UK. For example, Leicester University’s Archaeological Department has been working with our schools for a number of years, providing digs and workshops on the island. Developing links that benefit both parties has strengthened the opportunities provided.

3. Collaborating on enrichment opportunities

A range of enrichment days are regularly run across the island for learners who have a particular talent in a subject or for those who show a true interest. These allow application of skills in new and challenging ways, as well as learning new techniques and strategies with like-minded individuals. It is also good preparation for secondary school and gives our learners the chance to meet some of their future peers. As a cluster, we draw on staff expertise to run these days and pupils travel to the different schools or visit external sites. By not limiting enrichment to just core subjects, many learners with varied talents have benefited from these opportunities.

4. Sharing expertise to support CPD

We do not have easy access to UK training courses; therefore we seek to maximise opportunities for CPD through the use of shared courses, resources, facilities and existing expertise. This is far more cost-effective and encourages staff to actively keep up to date with current research and best practice in their subject. Challenge for all has been a key focus for the Cyprus Schools Consortium and this shared and focused approach has been central to CPD. Regular cross-island subject leader meetings have included both primary and secondary representatives. This has up-skilled leaders in different phases, while strengthening transition links.

5. Collaborating to provide inspiring role models

The cluster works closely to provide opportunities that inspire learners and allow them to consider their futures. Many of our learners have spent their entire lives in a military setting and are not exposed to the same experiences as others their age might be. As a whole-island team, we know that role models are a powerful way to inspire young people about their future possibilities. It is so important for learners to hear real people from their own community and beyond, sharing personal stories of why they do what they do and how they got there – their aspirations, struggles, challenges, failures and how they overcame them. We know that this type of interaction encourages learners to discover their own aptitudes and passions and follow their dreams.

About the NACE Challenge Development Programme

 The NACE Challenge Development Programme offers a complete package for whole-school review and improvement in provision for more able learners, in the context of challenge for all. It supports schools, clusters, alliances and trusts already demonstrating good or outstanding provision in this field, as well as those for whom this is a key area for improvement. Schools working with the programme may choose to apply for formal accreditation through the NACE Challenge Award.
 
Read more or contact us to find out how the programme could support your school or cluster.
 
Assistant Headteacher Rebecca Ross gained more than 20 years’ experience working with a wide range of schools in the South West of England, before moving to Cyprus to work for MoD schools. As part of her leadership role in England, she was seconded to support school improvement in primary schools. Her current role includes leading on more able provision across Cyprus’ MoD schools.
 
Date: 
Wednesday, November 28, 2018