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.

I am vice principal at Chelsea Academy, a Church of England Academy situated just off London’s famous King’s Road, with a vibrant and highly diverse student body of just over 1,000. A high percentage of our students are pupil premium, but they have great ambitions, which makes the Academy a fantastic place to work. We believe that we have given our more able students a great platform to go on and achieve success through bespoke curriculum pathways, targeted intervention and by exposing them to opportunities that have broadened their horizons.

After the initial euphoria of achieving the NACE Challenge Award, all of the relevant post-holders sat down together and read through the report, highlighting where development points related to their areas of responsibility, for example, higher-level questioning for the Lead Practitioner Team or embedding intervention strategies for the overall Raising Standards Leader. Two weeks later, we revisited the report in a leadership team meeting, and agreed where the most significant areas for development would fit into next year’s Academy development plan.

Sustaining the momentum

Naturally, a lot of hard work went into presenting the Academy in its best possible light on the assessment day, so it was important to celebrate all of the positive feedback we received, as well as highlighting the points for improvement. Rather than present this in one whole staff meeting slot, we thought it would have more impact using our weekly “sharing good practice” briefing slots over the course of one half-term. So for five weeks in a row, we shared one “www” (what went well) and one “ebi” (even better if) with the whole staff.

This information was also published on our learning cloud so that essentially, the more able agenda was “marketed” in as many places as possible and as often as possible to keep it fresh in people’s minds. In order to sustain this momentum, we will be co-planning our weekly CPD sessions for the next academic year with the Lead Practitioner Team, as well as recycling tips and examples of good practice relating to our feedback in our weekly staff bulletin.

Engaging parents in more able provision

The NACE audit was highly effective in bringing to light areas for improvement and as we compiled our evidence, we realised that it had been a while since we had undertaken a parental survey. So we asked for parents’ views on a range of more able-related questions. There was a clear pattern of overwhelmingly positive feedback from the upper years, but a less consistent level of positivity as we read through the survey results in the lower years. So it was clear that we needed to engage with the parents of our more able learners in Key Stage 3 in particular.

For this reason, we will be running a more able parents’ information evening in June for parents of students in Years 7-10. In my next blog post, I will share full details of the event, along with some reflections about how it went.

All of the above has helped not only to ensure that the momentum gained from achieving the Challenge Award is sustained, but also raise the profile of the more able agenda on our colleagues’ list of priorities. 

Is your school also seeking ways to engage parents in provision for more able learners? Watch out for Tom Cragg’s parental engagement plan, and our new NACE Essential Guide for parents and carers of more able learners – both to be shared with NACE members later this term.

Find out more about the NACE Challenge Award.

Friday, June 16, 2017