Last week saw the official start to a new partnership between NACE (the National Association for More Able Children in Education) and ERW (Education Through Regional Working).

Bringing together 12 schools from the six Welsh local authorities covered by ERW, the project will focus on improving provision for more able and talented (MAT) students, in the context of “challenge for all” which is central to NACE’s approach.

In an initial meeting on 21 March, representatives of NACE, ERW and the participating schools explored key areas of focus for the project. These included: what excellence in teaching and learning looks like for MAT pupils; developing resilience and raising aspirations; and transition, challenge and progression. Approaches to collaborative professional learning were also considered.

Developing a self-improving school system

Mark Ford, portfolio lead for school to school improvement at ERW, said the project aims to “develop clearly defined models of effective practice that can be shared across the region; identify learning strategies that impact positively on outcomes for current pupils; develop a vision for what learning will look like in five years’ time that challenges all pupils; and develop the leadership capacity of the group so the work can be taken forward in supporting other schools.”

Ford said the first meeting “quickly developed an atmosphere of openness with people sharing practice, strengths and areas for development and innovation”.

“This kind of collaboration”, he continued, “is fundamental to school improvement as part of a self-improving school system. This collaboration will support individual teachers in their own professional learning and build capacity within and across schools to support each other and raise standards. The leadership provided by NACE brings expertise to support the professional learning of teachers and will ensure that we move forward in an evidence-informed way.”

Supporting school-to-school improvement

The UK’s leading charity focused on the education of able children, NACE has a longstanding relationship with Wales, through NACE Cymru. It is the only organisation which has been formally commissioned to support MAT policy development in Wales, including the production of The Quality Standards in Education for MAT Pupils and associated training resources.

Sue Riley, CEO of NACE, commented: “The work NACE is undertaking with ERW builds on its long and productive association with schools in Wales, and with Welsh government and Estyn. We are delighted to be using this expertise to support school-to-school improvement, and develop a sustainable approach to MAT that, over time, will benefit the region.

“In addition to this work in Wales, NACE is working with the Education Achievement Service (EAS) consortia to support the development of its MAT strategy. It also continues to run a wide range of CPD and events, and offers the NACE Challenge Award to schools that wish to formally evaluate their approach to MAT policy and provision.”

Schools participating in the new NACE-ERW project are: Tycroes Primary School, St Therese RC Primary School, Ysgol Strade, Sir Thomas Picton School, Ysgol Aberaeron, Llangyfelach Primary School, Coedcae School, Ysgol Ger Y Llan, Cymer Afan Federation of Schools, Ysgol Maesydderwen, Llanidloes High School, and Bishop Gore School.

Find out more about the NACE Challenge Award.