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ACE Schools Plymouth

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ACE Schools Plymouth
ACE Schools is an Alternative Provision in the South West, providing education for students with a wide range of additional needs across a number of sites throughout Devon and Cornwall. As a school, we are proud to support all of our students' personal development and believe that Skills Builder is fundamental in securing a greater understanding of the key skills required to be successful at Post-16 and in a wider life context. We are developing a culture which builds students' self-esteem, self-value and confidence in the skill sets they already possess, whilst encouraging them to further develop their skills by signposting the 8 Essential Skills in every base, with explicit references embedded throughout the whole of the curriculum.
Overall impact
Students are beginning to understand that they possess skills that are relevant and significant to them when it comes to future employment opportunities. Confidence in their abilities is growing and they are starting to value and appreciate both the skills they have, as well as those they can gain. Success can look and feel very different for many of our students and we are now seeing many of them experiencing success in a number of ways throughout their school day. As a staff we are gaining momentum and regular CPD across all sites has been successful in encouraging mentors and teachers to explore how the Accelerator Programme fits into school life on their respective sites. Rewarding staff and students is becoming a fundamental part of the delivery of Skills Builder, which in turn supports consolidation and commitment. We are continuing to develop a bespoke programme, supported by all staff, which is fundamental to the success of our students, no matter what their background or social circumstances.
Keep it simple
Skills Builder is an integral part of the School Improvement Plan and the Essential Skills are referenced in every classroom/learning area and in site displays for all stakeholders. Our website promotes the Skills Builder Framework and has links to Skills Builder Homezone (for parents and carers). Every student uses the printed Skills Builder Passport to track their progress and staff use the Universal Framework and Hub to record progress and engage in intervention activities. Students work closely with their mentors and teachers, whether one to one or in a group setting, to understand their next steps across all of their learning. Progress is shared with parents at Review meetings and stages of development are encouraged to be pursued using Skills Builder Homezone. A common language is fostered across all sites and termly CPD supports this.
Start early, keep going
Our Primary setting uses assemblies from Skills Builder Hub to engage students in understanding the Essential Skills and the direct relationship with their learning and personal development. Students in KS3 and KS4 have a weekly lesson focussed on Skills Builder in PSHE and some bases also have a weekly challenge session during tutor time. All curriculum learning makes reference to the Essential Skills and posters can be viewed in all learning areas; laminated cards allow for reference to the skill Steps that relate to specific learning and development when off site on PE or LOTC (Learning Outside the Classroom) in the wider community.
Measure it
Each Half Term there is a whole school focus on a particular Essential Skill, which begins with an introductory lesson or assembly. In this session students use the Framework to assess previous progress and which Steps they should focus on in PSHE lessons and in one to one interventions. Students use their Skills Builder Passports to evidence and map their progress throughout the Half Term. Academic Leads and mentors use Skills Builder Hub resources to focus on an individual student's interventions and tutor time activities, when in a group setting, to develop progress. At the end of each Half Term, staff update progress on Skills Builder Hub and relay this to students.
Focus tightly
Mentors and PSHE teachers use the Skills Builder Hub to engage students in one to one interventions and group activities. This allows a bespoke focus on the individual, as each student has their own 'Group' to record accurate data. Progress is shared with students and parents in order to focus on their skill sets and where they may need to develop their skills further. This is a regular part of the PSHE curriculum, as well as one to one interventions with staff across all sites. Teachers reference the Steps achieved in student books and on completed work when marking/giving feedback.
Keep practising
All curriculum areas refer explicitly to the 8 Essential Skills across all teaching and learning, using a common language and visual cues. Whether working in groups in a classroom setting, or one to one, all academic study is linked to the development of skills. Subject curriculum maps and resources include references to specific Steps within the Essential Skills, which encourage and explore the consistent links between teaching and learning and the acquisition of both knowledge and skills.
Bring it to life
At ACE we encourage all students to engage with visiting speakers and employers, whether on site or out in the community (now that we are able - post COVID), so that their skills can be put into practice. All students have the opportunity to Learn Outside the Classroom, which allows them to both develop and embed Essential Skills in the wider community when: den building; map reading and orienteering; learning to build a fire; beachcombing; accessing local amenities and local transport for example. These are daily/weekly opportunities, where we encourage students to engage in activities that are key to being successful, ensuring that they understand how the acquisition of skills are an integral part of personal development for life and not merely academic achievement.
What's next
As a school we are continually striving to consolidate and build on our successes, as we equally encourage our students to. We now need to become more consistent when recording data, and in the next academic year we have created designated time to complete progress data at the end of each Half Term. I will continue to train and deliver CPD to all new staff and support heads of curriculum in updating units of work to include references to the Essential Skills. All teaching staff will have resources to take with them when on LOTC (Learning Outside the Classroom) on PE lessons and when out together in the wider community. Skills Builder will continue to be a key part of the School Improvement Plan and rewarding staff and students must be a regular part of building and embedding this as a culture across all sites in our school.
South West England
United Kingdom