By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
Return to Showcase
Visit website


Ark Byron Primary Academy

This content was written by
Ark Byron Primary Academy
A two-form entry school in West London, Ark Byron opened a few years ago. We have a knowledge rich curriculum, and our children are curious, articulate learners. We first got involved with Skills Builder to provide our children with a different type of opportunity within the curriculum. We were attracted by the projects and have had several years of seeing the imagination, creativity and confidence of our children flourish during those weeks. Over the last year, we engaged with Accelerator with more of a mind to expanding the benefits of Skills Builder across our school community. We were interested in creating a more conscious effort to use the essential skills as part of our language for learning, supporting the children to apply them every day and in a variety of contexts. Skills Builder provided a tangible framework and vocabulary to support us to develop the learning and character of our pupils.
Overall impact
The Skills Builder Accelerator has ensured that we have developed how we use the essential skills in our everyday practise. Teachers, pupils and governors are now much more confident in how we use the essential skills within our school community. Through training, recognition and regular assemblies the skills are being referred to and used on a daily basis. Rather than solely seeing the skills as unique to project week, we are beginning to experience a culture shift of them being normal practise. It has been lovely having a weekly opportunity to introduce the children to the skills, in addition to the project weeks. This has been really beneficial in supporting the children to use the language of the skills and provide tangible examples of how to show the skills. Within our EYFS classes this is very well embedded and it is always great to hear the children identifying independently identifying examples of themselves using the skills, as well as using them as part of reflection time. As always, the Project weeks were a particular highlight. The children particularly enjoyed the opportunity to utilise their knowledge and skills in a different way. Teachers reported that the projects provided a great chance for pupils to practise their team work, develop their confidence and access our curriculum in a more practical way. This was particularly valuable for pupils who may struggle in other contexts.
Keep it simple
Children are introduced to the language of the skills in weekly assemblies. These are run by the key stage leads and focus on a different skill each week. They also provide the space for pupils and teachers to celebrate success and give examples of demonstrating the essential skills during the week. Skills are displayed in all classrooms and on displays around the school. Children and teachers refer to these in teaching and are beginning to develop this language within the classroom. Stickers and weekly skill certificates celebrate the efforts of children demonstrating these skills. In some classrooms teachers are using the skills as part of success criteria within lessons. Teachers receive training each term on Skills Builder and embedding this into practice. If the skills lead is leading other forms of training, they model how skills can be embedded by using these as part of session objectives.
Start early, keep going
Children are introduced to the skills from the Early Years. Within the Early Years we plan our play and exploration around the skills and celebrate our days' successes against them. The skills are displayed in each area to support the children to know where and how they can develop their skills for example, Speaking in the storytelling area. Key Stage assemblies allow the skills to be introduced and pitched at an appropriate level. Within the Key Stage 1 this is using examples from stories and films to create hooks for the children and appropriate examples. For example, Mirabel for Encanto, as an example of Leadership or World Book Day parade as an example of Creativity. Within Key Stage 2, these examples are grounded in more real world examples from within the classroom or wider world. Parents are brought into this through the newsletter, stickers and weekly certificates.
Measure it
This is still being embedded into our everyday practice but most classes use the essential skills baseline to support them on identifying the level of their children. The planned timings of the project week and challenge days ensure that teachers have key points in the year to measure progress. Teachers also receive insights through daily reflections against the skills, as well formative assessment of the skills as success criteria.
Focus tightly
Children receive direction through our weekly assemblies, this is then followed up more organically in the classroom. These are introduced by the phase leaders who use the Skills Builder Framework to ensure these are pitched appropriately using stories and real-world examples. In the Spring half term we had a successful and engaging project week, using the Skills Builder Projects on the Hub. This provides protected time in the timetable for children to focus on learning the skills directly. These are planned to match the curriculum so that pupils have an opportunity to practise the essential skills in the context of their most recent learning. For example, Early Years were learning about Superheroes so enjoyed completing a project turning themselves into Superheroes. This is will then be followed up with a Skills Builder Challenge Day. This is completed in the Summer term and is used as an opportunity to apply the essential skills in collaboration with our curriculum days.
Keep practising
In addition to our direct instruction through projects, we complete a Challenge Day in the Summer term. This allows an opportunity to practise their skills in collaboration with our curriculum days. Last year this was alongside Sports Day. This year, we are looking forward to opening an Art Space alongside our Arts Week. Skills are beginning to be built into medium term and short term planning to support children to know when to focus on a specific skill or utilise their knowledge of a specific skill further. Within the Early Years, the skills appear on all prompts in the continuous provision and are reviewed daily with children so they can plan how to practise their skills. Every class has an extra-curricular opportunity each half term so this means they have at least 6 in a year. These include workshops, theatre trips and museum trips. We are beginning to develop our language of the skills around this.
Bring it to life
The use of projects and challenge days have opportunities of the skills in wider life. For example, Year 5 have been learning about volcanoes and so created newspaper reports describing the event of an eruption. The children really thrive on the opportunity of applying their knowledge and skills in a more real world context. Beginning to link the skills with extra-curricular activities has also supported the pupils in seeing the skills in wider life. This is for both external and internal experiences. Linking our poetry slam and dressing up for World Book Day to the skills of Speaking and Creativity helped provide children with a framework for applying the essential skills in everyday life.
What's next
Keeping a consistent Skills Leader for another year will enable us to continue with our successes from this year, rather than starting again. We already have a clear plan for where we want to focus for next year which is to embed Skills Builder as our main language for learning and behaviour. It is great that more teachers will be familiar with the Framework and already using this language and our practises of recognition. As this is normal practise, training will be able to focus on pitching this more appropriately and tracking children's progress. We want to codify the essential skills and our introduction of them within the curriculum so it becomes second nature in all classes. There are pockets of great practise around the skills where the language of the essential skills has become embedded for teachers and pupils. We will use examples of best practice to support other teachers in developing their confidence.
Greater London
United Kingdom