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A decade of building essential skills at William Tyndale Primary School

A long-term vision to equip their students with essential skills has marked a decade of partnership with William Tyndale Primary School in the London Borough of Islington.

While teaching Year 6, now Headteacher Sophie Gavalda, noticed difficulties in the children’s ability to collaborate and present. Set against the backdrop of Islington’s high level of young people outside of employment or training, the school made addressing this a priority.

Inspired by the idea of projects linking school learning with a careers curriculum, the school launched its first Skills Builder project, ‘A Day in Politics’. Children excitedly created their own political parties, proposing their priorities. “The impact on the children was immediate, with high levels of engagement and a clear link with developing communication and confidence that as a school we thought, actually, this should become part of our curriculum”, reflected Sophie Gavalda.

Over the years, the school has deeply integrated essential skills into all subject areas and school policies, creating a holistic approach to skill development. Weekly Skills Builder sessions are in place,and designating a “Skill of the Month” has shaped skill integration across the academic year, as does alignment with other school initiatives, such as the United Nations’ Rights Respecting Curriculum.

William Tyndale has also created inspiring opportunities for children of all ages to apply their essential skills to challenges with local businesses – from designing an ice-cream with the local ice-cream shop, to working with a fragrance company to create a new perfume.

Sophie Gavalda reflected that all the children can confidently use the language of essential skills and identify the skills needed when they face a problem. They develop creative solutions to issues, apply different strategies, and the programme has boosted their resilience. Children now have a much deeper understanding of careers and how they can use essential skills later in life.

The school is now also supporting the whole staff team to build their own essential skills to higher levels,with managers providing coaching and support using the Framework.

William Tyndale holds a Gold Award for Excellence in building Essential Skills, and is now striving for Flagship status. Its commitment to expanding Skills Builder among local schools and businesses is ensuring that many more children and young people in Islington develop the essential skills to succeed.