Jon Murphy, Headteacher of Abergavenny’s Llanfoist Fawr Primary School, explains how the NACE Challenge Development Programme has helped the school achieve improved outcomes for more able learners, while nurturing skills for lifelong learning and success.

School leaders constantly wade through the latest wave of educational initiatives flooding the market. Through carefully considering, selecting and undertaking the NACE Challenge journey, we were provided with the support, structure, knowledge, skills and resources to challenge our more able to become effective learners in all areas – be it academic, sporting, artistic, cultural, spiritual, musical or social. 

The whole-school approach of the NACE Challenge Framework has allowed us to strategically plan for and implement effective provision for our more able. The carefully considered standards of the framework and accompanying NACE resources, including innovative webinars, have provided our school with an invaluable structure to develop purposeful, bespoke learning. This has without doubt helped to enhance the life chances of many of our more able learners, allowing us to equip them with the skills needed to succeed in life.

Establishing the foundations for success

The NACE Challenge Framework provides a structure to develop strategy and provision for more able learners, whilst at the same time allowing scope for individual and creative approaches. At Llanfoist Fawr, we have used the framework to holistically develop whole-school policy and provision, as well as specifically focusing on character development.

Academic learning only takes place if the conditions are right and children can cope with the pressures and challenges of school and life beyond. Until young people know themselves, they do not really appreciate what they are capable of and how they can use and maximise their skills and talents. Learning qualities and values such as tenacity, resilience and courage impact positively on so many areas of development – promoting exciting, engaging and enriching experiences for all.

Undertaking the NACE journey has provided wonderful opportunities to develop character and to take pupils’ learning to exciting new heights. We have used the framework to identify individuals who show exceptional leadership skills, and develop strategies to enable them to realise their potential. Developing character traits for effective leadership has yielded some of the greatest impact in our provision. Who could fail to be impressed when watching Year 5 pupils leading and instructing the Duke of Cambridge in a challenging teamwork and thinking skills task during his visit last year to launch the SkillForce Prince William Award? (Read the full story here.)

Evaluating impact and learner outcomes

To measure the impact of the NACE Challenge Framework we monitored and evaluated a wealth of performance indicators such as attendance, frequency of behaviour incidents, national test results and teacher assessment. All performance indicators reflected impressive measurable improvements. At the same time, as with many of the most effective influencers in education, the best and most important cannot have a number or a score attached to them. 

Attainment in the core subjects at expected Level +1 (Outcome 6+ in Foundation Phase and Level 5+ in KS2) remains consistently high and shows our high aspirations for learners materialising into reality. Following a focus on developing the resilience and tenacity of our more able mathematicians, the performance measures for mathematical attainment have demonstrated a continuing journey of improved standards.

Our success in enhancing outcomes for more able learners can be directly attributed to our application of the NACE Challenge Framework. Staff have been trained, pupil ability nurtured, behaviours developed and provision shaped through our adoption of NACE’s holistic whole-school approach to challenge.

Most impressive has been the impact on more able learners’ perception of themselves, the happiness they gain through challenging learning, the self-belief and confidence that positively radiates from children who are challenged to give of their best and who are comfortable within their own skins.
The Challenge Framework has provided a pathway to reinforce and consolidate our high expectations across all areas of operation. We have high expectations of all our learners, and they in turn take great pleasure in emulating our expectations!

Jon Murphy is the Headteacher of Llanfoist Fawr Primary School, Abergavenny, which successfully gained NACE Challenge Award accreditation in 2017. With over 30 years’ experience in education, Jon is also a team inspector for Estyn, an ambassador for the SkillForce Prince William Award and a Visiting Fellow of the University of South Wales. 

Find out how the NACE Challenge Development Programme could support your school.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018