AN Abingdon school has received a prestigious award for stretching its most gifted pupils.

Rush Common Primary School is only the third school in the county to be presented with the National Association for Able Children in Education’s Challenge Award.

Headteacher Maxine Evans said staff spent a year getting ready for last term’s inspection.

She said: “We wanted to raise standards right the way across the school and create a challenging, stimulating environment which also focused on more able, gifted, and talented children.

“In the five years since I started as headteacher at Rush Common, we have looked quite carefully at challenging our children, and we thought this would be a good vehicle to raise standards and challenge them even further.”

The school had to meet several criteria assessing teaching practices. Its assessor also spent time in the classroom and talked to staff, pupils and parents about their experiences.

In her report, assessor Maxine Slade stated: “I was impressed by the pupils, who are wonderful ambassadors for the school and clearly enjoy and embrace every learning experience the school can provide.

“Pupils, parents and governors spoke warmly about the inclusive and supportive approach.”

A key part of achieving the award, which forms part of Rush Common’s improvement plan, was the school’s employment of a teacher dedicated to working with gifted and talented children.

Mrs Evans said: “Standards right across the school have risen.

“That is evident in terms of the success we had not only in Key Stage 2, but in all children moving through the school.

“This is good news not just for the in-school community, but also for parents, and for governors who want to lead the school forward.

“We are extremely proud that our commitment to provide the very best education has been recognised.”

Rush Common’s accreditation will be valid until 2011, at which point the school will need to be reassessed.

The other two Oxfordshire schools to have achieved the challenge award are Edward Feild Primary School, Kidlington, and St John the Evangelist Primary School , Carterton.

So far, no secondary schools in Oxfordshire have managed to receive the accreditation, while Rush Common is the 159th school in the country to win it.

Further information about the National Association for Able Children in Education is available at