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New Report: Essential Skills at Scale

Delivering the government’s education mission: the importance of essential skills

The government’s mission for education is to ensure that every child and young person benefits from a broad, complete education that not only builds literacy, numeracy and knowledge, but also equip students with essential skills necessary to thrive. 

Skills Builder Partnership’s mission is to ensure that one day, everyone builds the essential skills to succeed. Alignment to the government’s mission is clear - higher levels of essential skills (communication, collaboration, and creative problem-solving skills) deliver social mobility and have the potential to deliver national productivity gains of £22.2bn.

Policy recommendations

Our report Essential Skills at scale outlines policy recommendations for ensuring that every child and young person benefits from high quality opportunities to build their essential skills. At a low cost, the right teacher training opportunities, curriculum adaptation, assessment approaches and accountability measures can realise this ambition. Implementing these policy recommendations will help realise the government’s vision of an education system that is equitable, inclusive, and delivers the skills that businesses are demanding.

At the heart of the recommendations is endorsement of the Skills Builder Universal Framework. The open-source framework provides a structured approach to developing eight essential skills. The Universal Framework is already successfully used by over 1,200 educational institutions and supported by government and leading organisations including The Careers & Enterprise Company, Gatsby Foundation, the Edge Foundation and CIPD.

Our policy recommendations are:

  1. A national model for building essential skills
    • Formally promote the development of essential skills as a critical part of a good 4-19 education, endorsing the Universal Framework as the model of how to do this.
  2. Teacher Training
    • Ensure all teachers receive training on how to effectively teach and assess essential skills, through CPD, reforming the Early Career Framework and encouraging the appointment of specialist skills leaders in schools and colleges.
  3. Curriculum
    • Explicitly include the development of skills development within the national curriculum, ensuring that all schools use the Universal Framework to teach essential skills through subjects, teach essential skills explicitly and to measure progression. 
  4. Assessment
    • Adopt and promote the Universal Framework to ensure effective measurement of essential skills throughout strategy and guidance (like the reading framework). 
    • Build on and promote existing, tried and tested approaches to assessing learners’ essential skills in the planned assessment review.
  5. Enrichment
    • Require funded extra-curricular programmes to track impact on essential skills using the Universal Framework.
  6. Post 16 education and training
    • Skills England and the post-16 skills strategy should adopt the Universal Framework as a common language for all stakeholders to use.
    • Qualifications should use the Universal Framework to define expectations as far as possible.
  7. System change and accountability
    • Set a clear expectation in statutory careers guidance that schools and colleges benchmark themselves against and work towards national standards in essential skills.
    • The Ofsted inspection framework, handbooks and report cards should explicitly include essential skills to provide clarity to all stakeholders and Ofsted inspectors should receive training in essential skills pedagogy.

Essential Skills at Scale provides a blueprint for transforming education in England, ensuring that every learner can develop the essential skills needed to thrive in life and work. We look forward to working together with the government, educators, and employers to achieve the shared mission of building a future where all children and young people have the essential skills to succeed.

Read the executive summary and the full report.