Making space for able learners NACE research launch

Hilary Lowe, NACE Education Adviser

Senior leaders want to be sure that all developments in their school are based on the available evidence in order to achieve the desired impact, and to ensure developments merit the human and financial investment required. NACE equally has always sought to base its work with schools on sound evidence and best practice, acknowledging however that this is not always easy to find – or apply – in the field of education for more able learners. This is why our forthcoming Leadership Conference represents an important step for NACE: an opportunity to showcase our work in closing the evidence gap in provision and practice for more able learners and to explore this with senior leaders and school curriculum decision-makers.

The conference sessions represent the best of what we know in areas of provision and practice which have been under-researched and limited in scope. We are looking forward to sharing this with our senior colleagues in schools and seeking their views on what additional work is needed.

NACE’s major research project “Making space for able learners” has enabled us to take a significant step forward in building what is currently a rather thin and limited evidence base regarding pedagogies for able learners, and specifically the notion of “cognitive challenge” which is central to providing an appropriate curriculum and learning for our most able learners. Through a review of literature pertinent to more able learners, looking beyond the usual research suspects, we have been able to develop a contemporary and more holistic account of the principles of cognitive challenge, to put forward an evidence base of related best practice from the research schools involved, and to propose an organisational framework which supports and develops cognitive challenge across the school.

NACE already works with hundreds of maintained and independent schools through classroom teachers and more able leads, but we recognise that senior leaders are key to achieving high-quality provision for more able learners. We are confident that we give schools the best and most substantiated advice about vision, policy and practice for the most able learners so that all learners have the opportunity to achieve to the best of their ability. This year’s Leadership Conference will provide an open window through which senior leaders will have access to NACE’s current and evidence-based approaches and ideas.

Join the conversation… Research report authors Hilary Lowe and Dr Ann McCarthy will open the NACE Leadership Conference with a keynote session on 16 November 2020, exploring key pedagogical approaches which provide cognitive challenge and have a positive impact on the learning and achievement of more able learners. View the full conference programme.

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