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All Saints Academy

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All Saints Academy
At All Saints Academy, there is a significant commitment to the personal development of our students. Whilst qualifications are important, we also believe it is important that students develop morally, and in relation to the broader skills which will prepare them for the next phase of their lives. Our personal development provision is recognised as good by Ofsted and reflects our dedication to our students broader development. Work in relation to skill development began a few years ago with the 8 skills from Skills Builder forming the framework for this. We recently took the opportunity during lockdown to completely re-write our curriculum in a creative, thematic approach where individual topics are all centered around a skill and a virtue. There are 11 topics for each year group and every topic has a specific skill allocated to it. The skill then permeates the lesson content to ensure that skill development is integrated rather than a bolt on addition. I made the decision to make a bid to be a part of the Skills Builder Accelerator programme in order to continue to develop our provision with strategic support from Skills Builder.
Overall impact
The Skills Builder Accelerator programme has ensured that there has been a continued focus on developing and strengthening our provision for the development of skills. Students have benefitted from seeing a much more coherent and focused approach to skill development with integral activities for each of the skills which have been consistent across topics. Teachers have benefitted from a much greater insight into the process of supporting skill development and have made excellent use of the comprehensive resources available on the Skills Builder Hub. The Accelerator programme has ensured that sufficient attention has been directed at each of the six principles and the regular strategy meetings with a dedicated Education Associated helped to continually, review and refine our provision to maximise the impact of our skills provision. The biggest highlight for us was to hear that of the many schools that work with Skills Builder, we became one of the schools to achieve the Gold Award, having embedded the skills provision to the level that we have which gives us faith that this commitment to skill development would be recognised by any external stakholder.
Keep it simple
The 8 essential skills are at the center of our creative curriculum model for all 5 year groups. In each year, our curriculum is split into 11 topics, each of which is built around a skills and virtue. Both our assembly programme and character education lessons are all aligned to the skill covered in each topic to reinforce the key language and support development. The subject content for each topic makes explicit reference to the skills and ensure that the skill development is seen as integral by the students. The knowledge organisers for each topic use the language/steps from the Skill Builder Universal Framework so students know exactly what development and progression looks like. Skills are referenced in parent meetings as it is a core part of the curriculum model. Students have taken part in weekly personal development challenges which were set using the Skills Builder Home Learning Hub challenges - these were uploaded to our online platform. Every classroom has an A3 laminated sheet for all 8 skills on display.
Start early, keep going
The creative curriculum model gives all students the opportunity to learn specific skill steps and then apply their skills across the curriculum. Teachers make regular reference to the skill step posters during lessons so that students understand how to progress in relation to each of the skills. The skill steps are broken down across all year groups to show an average expected progression route for all students. In addition to the skills being at the heart of each topic, students have dedicated tutor time sessions on skill development where tutors choose the most appropriate resources for the majority of their tutees and then deliver them. Students have engaged well with these sessions and are given the chance to recorded the reflections in relation to their skill development every Friday in their character education session.
Measure it
All students have a personal development tracker where they record evidence of where they have met the requirements of different skill steps. Students reflect on skill development at the end of each week and where good progress has been made, our sixth form students review the evidence and award students with a badge linked to the specific skill. Teachers use assessment for learning and their own subjective assessments to pitch teaching at the appropriate level. The assessment tool is well utlised by staff to inform their choices over which step and which resources to focus on with their tutees. Baseline assessments for skills are established in this way with the expectation being that there is then a follow up data input to reflect on progress made.
Focus tightly
Students have a weekly tutor session which focuses explicitly on direct instruction in relation to the essential skills. This happens for all students in the school and the content progress through the skill steps as students progress through the school. Teachers use the class assessment tool on the Skills Builder Hub to choose the most appropriate resources for students which is predicated on a general assessment of their efficacy in relation to the Skills Builder Universal Framework steps. The students all have a personal development tracker which include all 8 skills and all of the skills steps and each Friday they are given the opportunity to reflect on the development of their skills and provide specific examples of where they believe they have met the skill step.
Keep practising
In the curriculum model, skill activities are built into subject curriculum lessons so that students are given regular opportunities to practise the skill in a range of different subjects and a range of different contexts; whilst the subject content changes, the opportunities to explore and practise the skill remain consistent. Every booklet and lesson PowerPoint has the corresponding skill logo on them as a constant reminder of which skill is the focus of the topic. All electives (extra-curricular activities) are linked to skills which are identified by the person leading the elective.
Bring it to life
Our Year 11 students took part in a 3 day Crime Scene Investigation experience which applied a lot of the Skills Builder skills in a variety of different situations which saw students see how these skills are essential in most, if not all, jobs. Year 7 and 8 students took part in the Operation Moonbase Challenge Day which provided all students an immersive opportunity to test how well they have developed their skills over the course of the year. During the Careers Day for Year 9 and 10, each of the careers input made explicit reference to the skills associated with different careers.
What's next
Going forward there is still a lot of work to do to continue to refine our provision and ensure that each and every student sees the development of skills as a core part of their education. The weekly Skills Builder tutor times have been very effective and moving forwards we will be looking at where else we can allocate some curriculum time for direct instruction in relation to the essential skills. In relation to Principle 3 (Measure It), there is work to be undertaken to quality assure the measurement process whilst focusing on supporting students with close monitoring and tracking of their own development through each of the skill steps. In relation to Principle 5 (Keep Practising), we also want to do some work on making skill practise much more explicit in our elective programme. Finally, it will be good to do some work with employers to bridge the gap between school and future careers so students can practise the skills in a specific work context.
East of England
United Kingdom