Kentmere Academy and Nursery earns second NACE Challenge award

Date published: 31 May 2024

Kentmere Academy and Nursery in Rochdale has secured its second NACE Challenge Award, making it the 171st school to achieve this honour twice.

This prestigious accolade from the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE) celebrates the school’s dedication to providing exceptional education for gifted learners, while ensuring a stimulating environment for all students.

NACE CEO Rob Lightfoot said: “Kentmere Academy and Nursery will now remain part of the international community of Challenge Award-accredited schools which have demonstrated a sustained and effective commitment to meeting the needs of more able learners, and an interest in sharing expertise for the wider benefit of the education community.”

The award is based on the NACE Challenge Framework, which sets out criteria for 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 developed by NACE to help schools evaluate and improve their provision for more able learners.

NACE’s assessor reported: “A culture of high expectations and ambition for every child permeates the school. All staff actively demonstrate a commitment to challenge and support every learner to ensure that there are no limits on children’s learning and development.

“Staff have developed a climate where challenge is not something to fear[and] have the highest expectations of pupils in terms of their scholarly traits, engagement with thinking, productivity and independence.

“From the Early Years onwards, teachers seek and plan for opportunities to model being in the ‘learning pit’ and using resilience, perseverance, and a growth mindset to work through challenges. Children are confident to talk in depth about their learning.

“They show a real willingness to challenge themselves and each other to extend their learning further.

“Teachers demonstrate a strong sense of enquiry which is modelled by the Senior Leadership Team and supported through a coaching culture.

“Kentmere’s curriculum has been skilfully and collaboratively crafted through curriculum conversations which involve staff from every phase.

“Leaders and staff revisit and review the curriculum on an on-going basis, to ensure that it continues to expose children to deep and high-level concepts and that learning is secure and deep.”

To attain the Challenge Award, schools must complete a detailed self-evaluation using the NACE Challenge Framework, submit a portfolio of supporting evidence, and undertake assessment by a NACE associate.

The assessment process includes examination of school data and key documents; lesson observations; and interviews with school leaders, learners, parents and governors.

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