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How to write an essential skills case study for your school or college

Ever wondered how other schools and colleges embed the essential skills into their provision? Or maybe you’re just curious to see what essential skills education looks like? 

Every year schools and colleges have the opportunity to write a case study for our Case Studies Showcase, which celebrates the achievements of schools and colleges across the UK and wider world. Structured around Skills Builder’s 6 principles of best practice, partners in education outline how they have built the eight essential skills into curriculums, projects, events and the wider school and college life. 

Each case study is completely bespoke as schools and colleges demonstrate how they have tailored and adapted their approach to best suit their pupils, setting and priorities. From starting with a modest scope and focus to attain a Bronze award, to embedding essential skills into the fabric of the setting at Gold, the Case Studies Showcase shows a wide range of information, guidance and examples.

As well as a chance to highlight each provision’s accomplishments, the Showcase is a valuable resource for individuals. Be it educational settings about to start on their essential skills journey, to those who are more experienced, schools and colleges use the tool to gather strategies and ideas. We also share these examples with interested employer or impact organisation partners.

A sterling cohort of schools and colleges

We’re incredibly proud of this year’s cohort of schools and colleges and the commitment they are making to building essential skills. Recent research from the partnership demonstrates that without essential skills, high levels of education and basic skills knowledge are less likely to lead to positive life outcomes. By implementing opportunities for pupils to develop their skills, our partner schools and colleges are positively impacting students’ future life outcomes. We love to showcase this impact through case studies and encourage as many settings as possible to write one.

Advice for writing case studies

In our latest webinar for Skills Leaders, we learned how three fantastic settings approached writing a case study. With hints and tips from them and from our Education Associates, Skills Leaders gained a comprehensive understanding of what to highlight, how to write about each of the 6 principles of best practice and, for schools aiming for a Gold Award, how to collate evidence. There were also suggestions for how the case study could then be shared and celebrated by schools once completed.

Top 5 takeaways

  1. Look at a couple of examples on the case study showcase for inspiration
  2. Think about what you are most proud of achieving this year
  3. Use notes from strategy meetings to gather information for each principle
  4. Ask colleagues for ideas of best practise that have happened this year
  5. Make use of your Education Associate to chat through any questions or support you may need.

Interested in writing a case study for your school or college? Contact your Education Associate for your unique form.

Our latest webinar talks through even more advice, covering the following topics (with time stamps):

  • The Programmes (1:29 mins)
  • Bronze Award Case Studies (5:13 mins)
  • Silver Award Case Studies (9:12 mins)
  • Gold Award Case Studies (20:16 mins)
  • Tips & Celebrating (34:59 mins)


Can’t watch now? Here’s a handy summary

The Programmes (1:29 mins)

Education Associate Bethan opened the webinar by recapping how schools and colleges working with Skills Builder become part of the wider partnership with the aim that “one day, everyone will build the essential skills to succeed”. Praising the commitment and effort that we have seen from our partner educational settings, she outlined the importance of investing in pupils’ essential skills alongside their academic learning.

Going on to speak about the case studies showcase and its purpose, Bethan also covered the Skills Builder Principles that help to structure a comprehensive, effective approach to ensuring every learner can build their essential skills.

Bronze Award Case Studies (5:13 mins)

Outlining the huge achievement of receiving a Bronze Award, Bethan used the example of Hillside Specialist School and College to provide advice for writing a bronze case study.

She began by going through their context and the impact the programme had on their students – something that all schools have the opportunity to write about. Bethan highlighted that schools then write about what they have implemented for each of the principles. A great way to celebrate particular elements, Bethan picked out key aspects that Hillside wrote about for each principle.

Silver Award Case Studies (9:12 mins)

Attendees then heard from Claire Cannon-Rogers, Assistant Head Teacher at Brune Park Community School. Claire talked about what they had embedded to achieve the Silver Award and how they used that to write their case study.

Here are a few snippets from the conversation:

“It was really good to reflect and that’s what I’ve used a lot of my Skills Builder dedicated time for…on reflecting on where we are as a school and that process alone was really really valuable…it really highlighted all the amazing things we are doing.”
“We put our Skills Builder into everything, we didn’t just go for our PD, we went for our curriculum, we went for our clubs and societies, we went for our trips…so it was embedded in everything we did.”
“I create my own little sheet with the principles on and then I RAG rate them and then I update it every now and then with all my evidence linked to it…it really just helps me visualise, I can see that I’ve got loads and loads of stuff in Keep it Simple but I’ve not got as much stuff in the other bits so I can see the evidence and where it’s come from.”

Gold Award Case Studies (20:16 mins)

As an example of a school who have attained their Gold Award, we next heard from Sophie Gavalda, Assistant Head Teacher at William Tyndale Primary School. Sophie spoke not only about what she highlighted in her school’s case study but also about how she gathered different pieces of evidence as part of the Gold Award process.

Here are a few quotes from her:

“Strategy Meetings…those are absolutely invaluable, setting those objectives and reviewing them and having the discussions and I’d say that also really knowing the principles matrix because it is that criteria that if you really have that understanding…that makes a big difference”
“I work very closely with subject leaders and I found that particularly helpful because, as the Skills Leader you don’t want to just be the only one, this is really a whole school approach, so getting your Subject Leaders on board. I work with them every couple of weeks and we constantly review what we’re doing in terms of Skills Builder, what evidence have you noticed when we’re going through the school and when we’re doing curriculum walks, what have you noticed in book looks, so really having that shared responsibility and then they are also contributing to gathering evidence which you can then submit towards the case study.”
“We’ve used the Framework but we’ve developed our own overview…the skill of the month and I think that’s really helped us. It’s in a way a timeline but it just brings everything together because that’s your focus and then all of your curriculum maps and all of your curriculum overviews…and all your planning can come from that.”

Tips & Celebrating (34:59 mins)

Bethan wrapped up the webinar by going over tips for writing a compelling case study and gathering evidence for Gold and Gold+ awards. She then emphasised the importance of sharing the case study once it has been published and some ideas for how it could be celebrated more widely.

If you are currently on a programme with us and would like support with writing a case study, contact your Education Associate.

If you’re not currently working with us and keen to join us, final applications for the 2023-24 Accelerator programme are currently open and close on 7th July.

An image displaying multi-coloured cards, containing eight tips for sharing and celebrating your Skills Builder award. These tips include: 1. Share your award with staff and students in school.  2. Add details of you Skills Builder programme, award and case study to your school’s website. 3. Celebrate your award via social media or parental platforms.  4. Invite a school governor or local MP into school to share and celebrate your best practice.  5. Using the case study showcase, reach out to schools in your area to connect and share best practice.  6. Share your award and case study with your wider school community. Add your award to letterheads or email footers.  7. Contact your local newspaper. Ask your Education Associate to provide a quote.  8. Create a display, including your award certificates in your school entrance.