“Character” may be the latest buzzword in education – but it’s long been at the core of the NACE Challenge Framework, as NACE Challenge Award Adviser Elaine Ricks-Neal explains…

Increasingly schools are focusing on the development of “character” and learning dispositions as performance outcomes. Ofsted is also making it clear that it will look more at how well schools are developing resilient, well-rounded, confident young learners who will flourish in society.

The best schools, irrespective of setting, have always known the importance of this. And this focus on character has long been at the heart of the NACE Challenge Framework – a tool for school self-review and improvement which focuses on provision for more able learners, as part of a wider programme of sustainable school improvement and challenge for all.

Here are 10 key ways in which the Framework supports the development of school-wide approaches, mindsets and skills for effective character education:

1. “Can-do” culture

The NACE Challenge Framework embeds a school-wide “You can do it” culture of high expectations for all learners, engendering confidence and self-belief – prerequisites for learning.

2. Raising aspirations

The Framework challenges schools to raise aspirations for what all learners could achieve in life, irrespective of background. This is especially significant in schools where learners may not be exposed to high levels of ambition among parents/carers.

3. Curriculum of opportunity

Alongside a rich curriculum offer, the Framework asks schools to consider their enrichment and extracurricular programmes – ensuring that all learners have opportunities to develop a wide range of abilities, talents and skills, to develop cultural capital, and to access the best that has been thought and said.

4. Challenge for all

At the heart of the Framework is the goal of teachers understanding the learning needs of all pupils, including the most able; planning demanding, motivating work; and ensuring that all learners have planned opportunities to take risks and experience the challenge of going beyond their capabilities.

5. Aspirational targets

To ensure all learners are stretched and challenged, the Framework promotes the setting of highly aspirational targets for the most able, based on their starting points.

6. Developing young leaders

As part of its focus on nurturing student voice and independent learning skills, the Framework seeks to ensure that more able learners have opportunities to take on leadership roles and to make a positive contribution to the school and community.

7. Ownership of learning

The Framework encourages able learners to articulate their views on their learning experience in a mature and responsible way, and to manage and take ownership of their learning development.

8. Removing barriers

The Framework has a significant focus on underachievement and on targeting vulnerable groups of learners, setting out criteria for the identification of those who may have the potential to shine but have barriers in the way which need to be recognised and addressed individually.

9. Mentoring and support

Founded on the belief that more able and exceptionally able learners are as much in need of targeted support as any other group, the Framework demands that schools recognise and respond to their social and emotional and learning needs in a planned programme of mentoring and support.

10. Developing intrinsic motivation

Beyond recognising individual talents, the Framework promotes the celebration of success and hard work, ensuring that learners feel valued and supported to develop intrinsic motivation and the desire to be “the best they can.”

What does this look like in practice? Click here to read how one school has used the Challenge Framework to support character education.

Find out more… To find out more about the NACE Challenge Development Programme and how it could support your school, click here or get in touch.

As NACE Challenge Award Adviser, Elaine Ricks-Neal supports schools working with the NACE Challenge Framework, including those applying for Challenge Award accreditation. Her connection with NACE dates to 2006, when she co-authored the original Framework. Alongside her work with NACE, Elaine is Director of the Berkshire Teaching Alliance. Her career has spanned roles in secondary teaching and school leadership; work as an Ofsted inspector; and senior regional advisory roles, including two years with The National Strategies as Senior Regional Adviser for the South East of England.
Monday, February 4, 2019