The NACE Challenge Award provides recognition of school-wide high-quality provision for more able learners within a context of challenge for all. The award is part of the NACE Challenge Development Programme.

Gaining the award provides your school with:
  • External validation of school-wide high-quality provision for more able learners
  • Evidence of impact aligned to other school improvement and accountability measures
  • A clear action plan to help you identify and develop the right tools for your school, learners and staff
  • Ongoing expert support for continuous improvement
  • Invitation to join NACE’s Leading Schools Network
The point of working towards the Challenge Award has always been about the process and evaluating what we do. It provides a focus to think deeply about our teaching and learning in one area, but it always has transference to our teaching for all our pupils, not just the more able.”

- Dr Keith Watson, principal for teaching and learning, Portswood Primary Academy Trust

Applying for the award

The NACE Challenge Award is exclusively available to current NACE members, and is based on completion of the NACE Challenge Framework self-evaluation and portfolio.

If your school is ready for assessment, complete the online application form. You will be allocated an assessor, who will contact you to arrange a date for a pre-assessment visit. This is mandatory for schools being assessed for the first time, and optional for those undergoing reaccreditation.

After the pre-assessment visit, you will receive a report outlining your school’s readiness for assessment, and any additional development work required. Your assessor will then return for a full assessment day.

Read more about the assessment process.

Ongoing support

Schools holding the NACE Challenge Award receive ongoing support from NACE. In between accreditations, a “Challenge check-in” with a NACE assessor helps to ensure you are on track to meet the objectives within your action plan and that you are abreast of national more able developments. Challenge Award schools are also invited to join NACE’s Leading Schools Network.


To maintain NACE Challenge Award accreditation, schools must maintain NACE membership, be rated good or outstanding, and be successfully reaccredited every three years. At all stages of accreditation NACE would expect to see schools actively developing their approach to their more able policy and provision. By the time a school reaches third accreditation and beyond, it should be playing a role in research and partnership working to improve outcomes for more able learners.
Accreditation: Expectations:
First accreditation Evidence to show school is meeting Challenge Framework criteria
Second accreditation School building on the action plan produced at first assessment
Innovation/best practice in aspects of education for more able learners
Third accreditation
and beyond
School taking a lead role in partnership and research at a regional or national level to improve outcomes for more able learners
Find out more: