This year’s NACE Cymru Conference will open with an inspiring keynote from acclaimed author and expert on teenage brains Nicola Morgan, followed by updates from Estyn and EAS, and a selection of workshops showcasing the latest research and evidence-based good practice in MAT provision.

Scroll down for an overview of each session, and click here to read more about the presenters.


Today’s teenagers: upheaval, stress, storm – and success

- Nicola Morgan, author and expert on teenage brains and mental health

In this uplifting start to the conference, keynote speaker Nicola Morgan will draw on her wide knowledge of adolescence, science of the learning brain and the effects of digital living. Her session will explore brain bandwidth, learning under stress, and strategies to promote wellbeing in ambitious and high-achieving, but often mentally vulnerable, young people.

Supporting more able and talented pupils

- Liz Barry, HMI, Estyn

In this all-delegates session, Her Majesty’s Inspector Liz Barry will share key findings from Estyn’s recent publication, “Supporting more able and talented pupils”, for which she was the reporting inspector. Delegates will be invited to reflect on the current picture of MAT provision in Wales, and common characteristics of schools evidencing effective provision for MAT learners.

​The South East Wales strategy to enhance the performance and provision for more able learners

- Debbie Harteveld, Managing Director, and Kath Bevan, Equity and Wellbeing Lead, Education Achievement Service for South East Wales (EAS)

EAS’s Debbie Harteveld and Kath Bevan will describe one region’s approach to developing an overarching MAT strategy to support schools in implementing their own approach to MAT. The session will give insights into the drivers for effective support for MAT learners, as well as into key areas of MAT provision and practice and how schools can maximise the successful development and integration of MAT provision to secure the best outcomes for learners.

Workshops: Strategy and leadership 

Effective use of data to inform classroom practice for MAT learners

- Dr Ann McCarthy, NACE

Schools are increasingly data-rich and increasingly make use of this data to inform practice, target-setting and curriculum decisions. This workshop will focus on the principles of effective data use to track and support more able learners. The session will explore approaches to interrogating the data to gain insights into school and learner performance and, importantly, how to use that information to inform whole-school and classroom planning and practice to raise achievement for more able learners.

Narrowing the gap for MAT through the Pupil Development Grant

- Donna Evans, Barry Island Primary School  

Narrowing the performance gap between more and less advantaged able learners remains a challenge for schools. This workshop will consider the range of barriers to learning for pupils associated with deprivation, the strategies and wider school approaches that can be taken to remove those barriers, and how the Pupil Development Grant can be used effectively to support those interventions with positive impact for progress and achievement.

Integrating MAT within leadership strategy

- Alison Sykes, Bishopston Comprehensive School

MAT policy and provision are most effective and enduring when they are embedded at all levels in schools’ planning and practices. This workshop presents one secondary school’s approach to developing and maintaining excellent provision and outcomes for its more able learners through its wider strategic developments, leadership priorities and school review and improvement cycles.

Transitions for the MAT learner

- Prof. David Egan and Dr Susan Davis, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Ensuring progression and continuity in more able pupils’ learning is a high priority for all schools but is often difficult to achieve. This session will focus on the importance of the transitional stage between KS2 and 3, presenting research on the transition experiences of more able learners alongside case studies of effective practice to support progression and continuity in learning.

Workshops: Curriculum, classroom and student outcomes

Talk for learning: case study from a regional MAT project

- Steve Wilson and Rachel Rose, Bishop Gore School

The powerful role of language development and oracy in learning is well documented. This workshop presents successful work in “talk for writing” focusing on more able learners, undertaken by schools involved in a collaborative regional consortium MAT project. The session will offer the opportunity to design your own resources based on the shared strategy, and will also explore wider aspects of the project relating to MAT development.

Extending MAT learning through academic enrichment

- Greg Scannell, The Brilliant Club

Evidence suggests that enriching and extending learning beyond the classroom has a very beneficial impact on achievement and engagement. This workshop will look at why academic enrichment is so valuable for more able learners and present a detailed case study of how one organisation is using doctoral-level researchers in schools to share their skills and knowledge for the benefit of more able learners.

Creating challenge in the everyday classroom

- Sue Mordecai, NACE

The most important contribution to the achievement of more able learners is the quality of what happens in the everyday classroom. This workshop focuses on tried and tested strategies to challenge more able learners in a context of challenge for all, offering a wide range of practical ideas, strategies and resources to try out in primary classrooms.

Developing a learning mindset

- Dr Louise Brown, Anglia Ruskin University

Recent years have seen a growth in approaches to developing learners’ “mindsets” to enhance their engagement and success in learning. This workshop will give an overview of mindset theory, analyse its importance for more able learners, and suggest actions schools can take at both strategic and classroom levels to develop a culture that nurtures learning mindsets.

Workshops: School self-review and impact

MAT teacher development: creating programmes with impact

- Cathryn Knowlson and Linsey Lewis, Cwmclydach Primary School

Teachers are at the heart of excellent provision for more able learners, and key to enabling learners to achieve to the best of their ability – making ongoing professional development in this area paramount. This session presents one school’s approach to enabling its teachers to become confident and creative in their provision for more able learners within wider planning and development priorities.

Effective use of data to inform classroom practice for MAT learners

- Dr Ann McCarthy, NACE

See above.

Assessment and feedback: MAT project case study

- Claire Scotti, Coedcae School, and Louise Rees, Tycroes School

For more able learners it is particularly important that teachers’ assessments of and feedback on learning are informed by a clear sense of the progress of which they are capable and by high expectations of achievement. This workshop presents successful work undertaken in this area by two schools as part of a collaborative regional consortium MAT project. The main focus is on assessment and feedback, supplemented by commentary on related aspects, including a focus on developing independence in learning.

Best practice in MAT: NACE research findings

- Hilary Lowe, NACE

This session draws on NACE’s work with schools across Wales and England, alongside MAT research and surveys, to present a synthesis of findings on how best to support more able students in their learning and wider development.  The workshop will provide case studies and examples of effective practice along with insights into the conditions which enable schools to develop and sustain good MAT provision.   

View the full programme and book your place.