Chelsea Academy achieves the prestigious ‘NACE Challenge Award’

Chelsea Academy achieves the prestigious ‘NACE Challenge Award’

Over the past year, Chelsea Academy has been working on a high profile assessment called the NACE (National Association for Able Children in Education) Challenge Award. The assessment is used to:

  • review the scope and quality of what we are doing for our most able students in a context of challenge and high standards for all
  • plan for continuous improvements in this area of the Academy’s work
  • work towards gaining a prestigious award for our work with the more able, only currently held by 391 primary and secondary schools across the UK.

Initially, we had to submit an audit across 8 areas of whole school leadership and a portfolio of evidence to back up what we had written. Once we had received approval for a full assessment based on this evidence, three assessors (all of whom were trained Ofsted inspectors) visited the Academy on Thursday 30th March. This visit included 27 lesson observations, interviews with a group of students, parents, staff and governors, as well as a scrutiny of all the interviewed students’ exercise books.

We are delighted to say that Chelsea Academy was successful in achieving the award, and the report highlighted some particular strengths, which we would like to share with you:

  • The Academy demonstrates high ambition and aspiration for all students, including the more able and talented.
  • The Principal, governors and the leadership team have created an environment in which staff and students can have high expectations of themselves and of one another.
  • All staff are fully committed to raising achievement for more able and talented students, including those that may be disadvantaged.
  • Students identified as having multi-exceptionality are very well supported.
  • Over time students make excellent progress at the Academy. Standards are improving and are above the national average. The proportion of A and A* grades are increasing over time at the end of both Key Stages 4 and 5. Disadvantaged students do as well as others and their attainment is above that for similar students nationally.
  • The progress of MAT students is meticulously tracked through regular assessments.
  • Individual needs are responded to in a timely manner to ensure that any underachievement is addressed quickly and effectively.
  • Teachers’ excellent subject knowledge and high expectations ensure that students are thoroughly engaged in their learning. There is an overt focus on enabling students to develop depth and understanding in all their subjects.
  • All staff receive excellent professional development to provide for more able and talented students in the classroom, as demonstrated in the effective provision observed in lessons.
  • The curriculum is carefully planned and enriched through an extensive programme of extra-curricular activities in which students develop their talents and skills to a high level.
  • Links to higher education are very effective in raising aspirations and in 2016 97% of students went on to study in higher education establishments, including Russell Group universities.
  • Students’ views and responses are listened to and valued, including their views on how they learn best. They spoke highly of the way they are supported and challenged in lessons and the high quality pastoral support they receive.
  • Governors provide very good support and challenge. They set aspirational targets for attainment, including at the higher grades. They hold the Academy robustly to account.
  • Parents feel that the school is welcoming and highly inclusive in meeting the needs of all students. They talked warmly of the support that their children receive and were appreciative of the numerous opportunities that students have across the age ranges to develop their leadership skills.*

*We are aware that only a very small number of parents were able to be involved in this assessment, so we are proposing to run a ‘more able and talented’ parent information evening in the very near future. We will contact parents individually about this event.

We would like to thank all of the students for their excellent conduct and engagement in lessons throughout the day, and all of the teachers for their commitment to plan and deliver the best possible lessons for students, even at such a late stage in the term. Particular thanks also go to Miss McLoughlin, our More Able and Talented Coordinator, who was responsible for running the process alongside the Leadership Team, as well as the parents and students who were involved in small group meetings.

If you have any specific queries about the Academy’s work in this area, please do not hesitate to contact Miss McLoughlin at


T A Cragg (Vice Principal, Curriculum)


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