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News: Research and policy

NACE research update: what works for more able learners?

15 March 2019   (0 Comments)
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NACE Education Adviser Hilary Lowe shares an update on research exploring practices and conditions that support effective provision for more able learners.

If you want to know what good practice and provision looks like for very able learners, you need look no further than schools accredited with the NACE Challenge Award. Comprising the NACE Leading Schools Network, these schools represent a growing repository of successful and well-evaluated approaches to ensuring all learners experience high-quality challenge and support to develop their abilities.

Many of these schools are already involved in sharing examples of effective practice – contributing to NACE’s CPD programmes, publications and regional R&D Hubs, as well as other outreach and school-to-school initiatives. A group of 20 are participating in the NACE Leading Schools research project, which aims to identify examples of effective provision for more able learners, and to understand the contributing factors which have enabled these schools to be successful in this area.

Commenced earlier this academic year, the project will be a substantial focus for NACE over the next few years. The findings will be shared with the NACE community and more widely, contributing to the evidence available on what works for more able learners and how effective provision for this group can impact on a wider cohort of young people.

Some clear trends are already emerging from the information gathered so far; these will form a key focus of site visits to participating schools next month. On the provision side we are seeing:

  • Schools with a clear curriculum rationale and design, planned to cater for a range of different learner groups but intended to provide challenge for all, and no caps on progress and achievement
  • Classroom practices such as approaches to differentiated learning, assessment and feedback which maximise opportunities for in-depth learning for all learners, with tailored provision for the more able where needed
  • Enriched learning and aspiration-raising beyond the classroom as well as within

Organisational conditions and leadership practices which are clearly contributing to this include:

  • A culture of extremely high expectations which permeates all aspects of school life
  • Planning for and monitoring of more able learners which is a leadership priority, embedded into all school systems and seen as the responsibility of all staff
  • A whole-school emphasis on developing independent, confident learners

Initial findings from the research will be shared in a keynote session at this year’s NACE National Conference (20 June). Bookings for the conference are now open, with a members’ early-bird rate available until 29 March.

To find out more about the research and how your school could be involved, contact us.