Guest Post: Time for a health check on your provision for more able learners?

When was the last time you took a close-up look at your school’s provision for more able learners? How confident are you that the needs of the most able are being met across the board? What existing strengths could you build on, and what gaps need to be addressed, with benefits for all learners?

New for 2020, the NACE Health Check© offers a focused one-day “deep dive” review to help school leaders evaluate provision for more able learners and identify priorities for improvement. The focus for the review day is agreed through the school’s completion of the NACE Health Check audit tool, which is aligned to the new Ofsted education inspection framework.

An independent charity with over 35 years’ experience, the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE) works with member schools, education leaders and practitioners to improve provision for more able learners while promoting challenge for all. It has developed the NACE Health Check to support schools at all phases and in all contexts seeking to review and improve provision for the more able, contributing to whole-school improvement and raised achievement for all.

Why complete the NACE Health Check?

The review is likely to be useful for:

  • Schools which have identified provision for and performance of more able learners as key improvement areas, wishing to check the progress and impact of improvement plans;
  • Schools which wish to test out their readiness for Ofsted inspection – more able provision may have been previously identified as an improvement area, or current performance may suggest this is likely to be a key line of enquiry/deep dive when next inspected;
  • New school leaders who wish to work with a reviewer to establish an accurate benchmark of current provision for more able learners/higher attainers and who are aspiring to achieve outstanding provision;
  • School leaders seeking support in the composition of their whole school self-evaluation document.

“The NACE Health Check audit tool helped us to identify that as a school our foundation subject teaching needed a higher quality of breadth and skills taught and that we needed to develop assessment in these areas too. This has ensured more able pupils are challenged in all their learning.” – Catherine Nisbet, Headteacher, Mrs Bland’s Infant and Nursery School

“Using the NACE Health Check has raised the profile of more able across the school, helped us to gather evidence of areas of excellent practice, and has identified areas for development. Our reviewer’s evaluation of the collated results was perceptive and helpful, and led to some enlightening discussion. This helped us design staff training and targets for development in some areas. The review day was a thorough but not intimidating process, and we now feel confident, going forward, in our conclusions and course of action.” – Chris Prosser, Headteacher, The Downs School

How does it work?

Part 1: completing the audit

On placing an order for a NACE Health Check, your school will be issued with the Health Check audit tool (primary or secondary version). The structure of the audit tool is aligned to the four key areas of Ofsted’s education inspection framework:

  • Quality of education;
  • Behaviour and attitudes;
  • Personal development;
  • Leadership and management.

Each section comprises self-evaluation statements describing what might be considered as outstanding provision for all learners, with additional specific reference to more able learners.

As a school leader, you assess your current provision against the descriptors in a 5-1 ranking, noting any relevant comments. The tool can also be used by curriculum/subject leaders to audit a specific area of provision. Scores can be tallied at the end of the audit to highlight strengths and improvement areas.

The completed audit should then be submitted to NACE along with:

  • School improvement plan and any supplementary more able learner plans and relevant evaluations;
  • School policy for more able learners; policy for teaching and learning and assessment; curriculum policy;
  • School’s most recent national dataset performance information;
  • Completion of any further relevant notes.

Part 2: the review day

After scrutinising this information, the NACE Health Check reviewer will contact the school to discuss and agree the focus and structure of the review day, which will typically include:

  • Interviews with key leaders/subject leaders, including the more able lead/coordinator;
  • Work scrutiny;
  • Learner interviews;
  • Lesson observations.

At the end of the process, the school will receive a written report detailing identified strengths, areas for development and recommended next steps.

Ready to give your more able provision a health check? Find out more.


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