Beyond the “recovery curriculum”: 10 steps for primary schools

NACE are a partner of Rising Stars. Maths for the More Able and English for the More Able were created in association with them. 

While much attention has focused on “recovery” in recent weeks, the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE) is calling on schools to look beyond this – prioritising wellbeing alongside an ambitious, creative, collaborative approach that allows young people to not only recover, but truly thrive.

To support this, NACE has published a free digital resource pack for schools.

Adapted from the resource pack, this blog post for Rising Stars outlines 10 key steps for primary school leaders and practitioners:

1. Focus on rebuilding relationships and routines

The sense of community will need to be re-established and relationships will be central to this, along with routines and robust systems to ensure pupils feel safe and secure. 

2. Provide opportunities for reflection and rediscovery

Encourage pupils to tell their lockdown stories in a variety of media and talents – written, artistically, through dance or other means. Provide opportunities for them to reflect on their experiences, rediscover themselves and look ahead to their hopes for the future. 

3.    Use positive language

Even terms like “catch up” and “recovery” risk suggesting we will never make up for lost time. Choose your words carefully to show pupils and parents how positive you are about their future. 

4.    Find out where your pupils are

Each school will want some form of baseline assessment early in the year, whether using tests or more informal methods, including pupil self-assessment and dialogue. Focus on understanding pupils’ individual needs.

5.    Don’t overlook the more able

While there will be many competing priorities, be wary of making assumptions that the more able are “fine” in terms of emotions and learning. They need to be engaged in purposeful learning and challenged as always. (For support with this, take a look at Rising Stars’ Maths for the More Able and English for the More Able series, developed in association with NACE).

6.    Maintain a broad curriculum

The pandemic may force schools to be even clearer on key learning, but we need to be careful of even greater narrowing of the curriculum, especially to test criteria. The spectre of “measurement-driven instruction” is always with us, particularly for Year 6.

7.    Focus on building learners’ confidence

Pupils need to be settled and ready for learning, but this is often achieved through purposeful tasks. RAG ratings and pupil-teacher dialogue can be used to gauge and rebuild pupils’ confidence and revisit areas where they perceive learning is weaker. Reassure pupils and remind them that learning is not linear.

8.    Review your writing plan for the year

What does the writing journey look like throughout the year to achieve greater depth? Review the writing plan for the year to ensure key tasks are still appropriate and timed correctly. Don’t panic; remember you have the year to help pupils achieve the standards of which they are capable. 

9.    Make time for classroom dialogue

Collaborative group work may be more challenging in the current context, but dialogue remains vital and time still needs to be made for it despite restrictions on classroom operations.

10.    Stay optimistic and ambitious

We must remain optimistic and not shy away from opportunities to go beyond the curriculum to encourage and develop talents. The primary curriculum provides so many opportunities for more able pupils to push the boundaries in learning beyond the narrow confines of subject areas. 
Given that the “recovery curriculum” may spend a lot of time re-establishing a mental health equilibrium and helping those with large gaps in knowledge to “catch up”, it may be that those more able pupils who are ready for it can be given license to experiment more with the curriculum, have more independence and apply their learning more widely: not merely recovering, but rebounding and reigniting with energy, vigour and a celebration of talents.



About NACE

The National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE) is an independent charity working with schools, educators and partner organisations to improve provision for more able learners, driving whole-school improvement and raising achievement for all. 
NACE member schools have access to exclusive resources, expert guidance, flexible CPD and networking opportunities throughout the year, plus special offers including a discount on Rising Stars’ Maths for the More Able and English for the More Able series. 
To find out more, visit the NACE website or contact 


English for the More Able, Mathematics, Maths, Maths Curriculum, Maths for the More Able, More able

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