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.
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.
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.
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.