What is NAHT Aspire?

NAHT Aspire is the NAHT’s own school improvement service and consists of a range of school improvement programmes and resources, designed to address schools’ varying school improvement needs. It has been developed between NAHT and EdisonLearning as a collaborative partnership to build capacity within participating schools and bring about long term sustainable improvement. From its origins in 2013 as an independently evaluated three year DfE pilot programme through to its current range of programmes and resources, NAHT Aspire provides proven strategies for school improvement.

At the centre of the NAHT Aspire model is the EdisonLearning Five Strand Design™. Developed from international research into the features of highly effective schools the five Strands include Leadership, Pedagogy and Curriculum, Learning Environment, Assessment for Learning and Student and Family Support. This produces an interconnected and holistic model that builds capacity and capability within the school with a clear focus on improving outcomes for learners.

Who is NAHT Aspire for?

Simply put NAHT Aspire is for all schools with a desire to improve. A range of engagement models allows schools to develop and embed best practice through a long term partnership or shorter intense support. NAHT Aspire is a proven model for schools aiming to move from ‘Requiring Improvement’ to ‘Good’. Likewise, schools that are already considered ‘Good’ are engaging with NAHT Aspire to build towards ‘Outstanding’ and those that are already viewed as ‘Outstanding’ are finding innovative ways to develop practice to new levels of excellence.

Which NAHT Aspire Programme?

We offer a two year and one year Aspire school improvement programme with the two year Partnership Programme addressing all areas of school provision and ideally suited for schools that have an Ofsted judgement of requires improvement and the one year Teaching and Leadership Innovation programme focusing on teaching and assessment and leadership to help schools make rapid improvements in these key areas. Both programmes have the Five Strand design at their centre and are supported by our Achievement Advisors throughout the life of the programme.

NAHT Aspire Resources

NAHT Aspire Resources are designed to address key school improvement issues and are ideally suited for schools seeking to focus on specific school improvement issues, rather than implementing school-wide transformation. Each of the resources reflects what research and evidence tells us makes the greatest impact and as they are all linked to the Five Strand Design can be used as an entry to the wider Aspire improvement programmes. We have recently developed resources for schools seeking to review their curriculum and their provision for disadvantaged learners and these can be used for self-review or adviser facilitated review.

Addressing the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged learners.

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An online pupil tracking tool that incorporates our Achievement Statements (as well as the Learning and Life Skills ‘I can’ Statements). It is designed primarily to support teachers to finely focus their planning,choices of teaching method and assessment criteria.

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The perfect starting point for exciting, engaging and motivating learning that schools can continue to develop innovatively to suit their own context.

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A view to ensuring appropriate breadth and balance while also creating a curriculum that is both relevant and inspiring to your learners and the wider school community.

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Is a research-based approach designed for schools to ensure that every pupil develops the essential skills for learning and life. It supports teachers with their PSHE curriculum and supports schools in meeting the requirements for the Prevent strategy.

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A school leadership development tool that supports schools in translating the theory of great leadership into the everyday practice of all leaders, thus maximising the impact of school leadership on learner outcomes.

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Is an online and physical resource that describes all that teachers do to enable great learning. It helps teachers to identify development needs, and examine the behaviours they see when those needs have been met.

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NAHT Peer Review

The recent NAHT report on Improving School Accountability recognises Peer Review as an increasingly popular form of sector led collaboration. NAHT Aspire Peer Review was launched in 2017 and reviews schools’ performance against the features of highly effective schools and identifies good practice and areas for improvement. Through using the features of highly effective schools NAHT Aspire Peer Review not only provides a diagnosis of school performance it produces a clear route for improvement through NAHT Aspire programmes and resources. To find out more click here.


Independent research from the University of Derby and current Ofsted inspection results have shown Aspire to be an effective and sustainable model of school improvement that has continued since 2013:

  • 106 Aspire schools have been inspected since the start of the pilot, at the outset only 25 of the 106 schools were rated Good or above (24%) after inspection 71 schools (67%) and were rated Good or Outstanding.

  • In 2018 Aspire schools doubled the national rate of improvement in pupils meeting the expected standard at the end of KS2 in Reading, Writing and Maths.

  • In our latest customer survey 100% of Headteachers agreed that their Aspire Partnership Programme had improved their school, provided good value for money and prepared them effectively for external audit.

Become an Accredited Partner

We have designed the NAHT Aspire programme to encourage school to school collaboration, and its long-term sustainability depends on growing a strong network of school-based partners. As an Accredited Partner your organisation could be responsible for the development and delivery of the Aspire Programme and Aspire Components in an area or for a group of schools.

What would an Accredited Partner organisation look like? Most likely that your organisation is leading a Teaching School Alliance or that you are already supporting school improvement through other programmes and models. If this applies to your organisation we would be interested to hear from you.

It was inspirational to see how the whole school leadership team had embraced the programme with such enthusiasm and passion; even acknowledging that this may have made them come across as incredibly keen at the termly Network Days they attend with other schools in their cluster!

Nick Brook, NAHT’s deputy general secretary