NACE is delighted to announce that Malta’s Chiswick House School has become the first school outside of England and Wales to be accredited with the NACE Challenge Award.

Based on the NACE Challenge Framework, the award is given in recognition of school-wide high-quality provision for more able learners, within a wider ethos of challenge for all. The framework is available as part of the NACE Challenge Development Programme – a suite of resources and support to help schools evaluate and improve provision for more able learners.

Since the Challenge Award was established in 2004, it has been granted to more than 400 schools in England and Wales – now joined by Chiswick House, the first international marker on the Challenge Award map.

Commenting on the process of working towards the award, Bernie Mizzie, Director of Chiswick House School and St Martin’s College, said: “It has been an energising experience – rigorous, demanding and a great school improvement tool. A concerted, well-communicated vision and action plans have been put in place, implemented and evaluated. The school has felt united, staff have been fully engaged, and all learners have benefitted from the setting of high expectations and more challenging approaches.”

Sue Riley, NACE CEO, said: “We are delighted to announce that Chiswick House has become NACE’s first international member to gain the respected NACE Challenge Award. It is clear that the school sets high expectations for its learners, and in turn learners do the same for themselves. The school demonstrated that its provision for more able learners is at the heart of its development plan. Staff work closely with parents and there is a strong ethos of collaboration and innovation. We look forward to working with Chiswick House as the school further develops its offer, and sharing its expertise with other NACE member schools across the globe.”

Chiswick House will now continue to develop its provision, building on the action points identified in the NACE Challenge Award report – including a focus on strengthening support at key transition points, and investing in ongoing professional development for teachers and support staff.

For other schools considering working with the Challenge Framework, Bernie’s advice is to “Go for it!” She adds: “At first it may sound daunting, but it is a great way to clarify, implement and evaluate thoughts, direction and actions. It engages the whole staff and raises the bar at your own pace but allowing very little compromise, which brings the school to the best place – the best you can be – and necessitates that a smart plan is firmly in place for the next moves. I love the vibes and bustle it created. Professional conversations got taken to a higher notch in days!”

To get maximum value and impact from the framework, Bernie recommends, “Be honest, take time to fully understand where you actually are, and be brave enough to take up the challenges and deliver the best for the whole learning organisation.”

Find out more about the NACE Challenge Development Programmme.