Barnton Community Nursery and Primary School (BCNPS) is a large primary school and nursery serving a semi-rural location near Northwich, Cheshire. We are committed to providing holistic development opportunities for all of our pupils. In line with this vision, the school has successfully implemented the Skills Builder Essential Skills programme over the past 3 years, achieving the Gold Award in 2022. This case study aims to showcase our delivery of the programme, highlighting its impact on students' skill development and overall educational experience. We have been an Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM) Centre of Excellence for 9 years, and a Flagship School for Inclusion for the past 4 years. At the last review, our IQM Assessor stated that, ' BCNPS is not a school that rests on its laurels. It is constantly developing and refining its offer to pupils and families to ensure Inclusion is at the heart of everything.' The schools stated mission is to inspire every one of their pupils to believe in their own abilities to achieve their absolute best by providing a welcoming, safe, happy school where everyone is respected and listened to; where pride in themselves and their achievements, enables pupils to develop responsibility and become confident and successful learners. We recognise the need to equip students with essential skills that extend beyond academic knowledge. We understand that some children are not ready for classroom-based learning, and since Covid, we have had an increased number of children in our school who lack confidence, self-belief and self-esteem, and more children needing ELSA and support with Wellbeing and Mental Health. We have therefore prioritised our Essential Skills Curriculum to give all children the foundations to grow in confidence and resilience, where they will be more able to engage with their learning, and have aspirations for a positive future.
This year, BCNPS has built on the successes of previous years through our whole-school approach, embedded curriculum, dedicated lessons and focus on Transition, and extracurricular activities. The impact is evident in; 1. Increased Engagement: The programme has enhanced pupil engagement and motivation in the learning process. By incorporating essential skills into lessons, pupils have found relevance and purpose in their education, resulting in improved attendance, active participation, academic success and a positive attitude towards learning. Attendance is 95.35% to date, compared with 93.69% for 2021/2022. Our end of KS2 Progress measures for 2021/2022 put us in the top 20% of all schools nationally for progress. 2. Transferable Skills: Pupils have been able to transfer the essential skills they acquired across different subjects and real-life situations. This has empowered them to approach diverse tasks and challenges with confidence, demonstrating the practical application of their skills. Year 6 children say; ?I have mostly improved on aiming high by setting goals for myself and trying the best I can to achieve them.? ?I've used them (essential skills) by preparing myself for SATS which boosted my confidence.? ?It helps my understanding of the people around me - and knowing to listen or take leadership if needed.? 3. Teachers Collaboration and Sharing Best Practices: The programme implementation encouraged collaboration among teachers, fostering a culture of sharing best practices and innovative teaching methods. The inclusive ethos of our school and our dedicated and enthusiastic staff have made sure that pupils at BCNPS are equipped with the essential skills needed for success in their educational journey and beyond.
BCNPS has implemented explicit teaching of short skill lessons, ensuring that students receive direct instruction on each essential skill. Teachers provide clear explanations, demonstrations, and opportunities for practice. Essential skills displays are present in all classrooms, serving as a visual reminder for students. These displays showcase the skills and provide examples of how they can be applied in different contexts. The school has embedded essential skills into the PSCHE curriculum. The skills are taught explicitly and incorporated into various topics and discussions. The school has also developed a policy that outlines the importance of essential skills in students' overall development. Each week, one pupil from every class is nominated for a Head Teachers' Award, recognising their exceptional demonstration of the nominated skill for that term. These successes are celebrated at Family Assembly, highlighting the importance of essential skills to the entire school community.
The Essential Skills curriculum is delivered from Reception to Year 6, ensuring that all pupils have the opportunity to develop essential skills throughout their primary education. Each half term, two specific skills are highlighted as a focus for the entire school. This approach allows for concentrated teaching, practice, and reinforcement of these skills across year groups and subjects. All children start each half-term with a general reflection on the skills, and then targets are set for the appropriate skill step, which is shared with parents in the childrens planners. The skills are consolidated in Year 6, as part of Transition. Pupils are taught about the new challenges they may face at High School, and how to deal with some of the issues they may encounter. The programme, called Go Big, Be Awesome uses the essential skills to support their learning around Transition.
Staff members use the Skills Builder Hub to assess pupils' progress in the eight essential skills on a termly basis. This data informs instructional decisions and identifies areas where additional support may be needed. Throughout school, each child has a personal target, as well as academic targets, which based around the skills and steps that are the focus for that half-term. In KS2, the children set and review their own targets, and in Upper KS2, they use their Chromebooks to monitor and measure these. They reflect on their progress, identify strategies for improvement, and celebrate their achievements. The Hub data gives us an insight into how skills are developing across the school, and we have been able to identify areas that we feel require additional teaching and focus, so that our children are given the best possible start.
We pride ourselves on providing a myriad of exciting opportunities for our children to practice and apply essential skills in various contexts. We used one of the whole-school Challenge Days - A Day in Politics - to engage the entire school from our 2-year olds to Year 6, in the topic of democracy. As well as discussing and voting on local issues, we had a call to action to encourage children to be part of a generation that cares about others and wants to elicit change. We have recently held an evening family event, called Lessons for Life, where children and their families were invited back to school to take part in exciting hands-on activities, demonstrating how each essential skill might be taught and used in different foundation subjects. We were joined by over 100 families and had some fabulous feedback from parents and carers: This was a fantastic evening and it was great to see the children feeling confident taking part in each task.
Year 5 and 6 were excited to join in with a number of Employee Q&A Sessions this year, in Careers Week and Enterprise Week. It gave pupils the chance to speak to employees and employers about their jobs, training and skills, as well as practising their own listening and speaking skills. Year 6 teacher, Erin Rees said, ?The session was of huge benefit to my cohort, who are starting to think how they can harness the skills they have learnt as they move onto their next step.? BCNPS is also thrilled to be holding our Inspire Day on 12th July. with community members sharing their careers to further immerse pupils in practical skill development. We look forward to welcoming actors, brick-layers, armed forces, florists and more into our school to inspire and instil passions in our children.
We will continue to grow our partnership with Skills Builder, and use the Toolkit to teach all 8 essential skills, which we know make a huge difference to our children. We aim to have one focus skill next academic year: Speaking. Our Curriculum Intent states that: Language acquisition is the foundation of thinking and learning, and we have identified communication skills as an area for development. Generally, children enter our Early Years with concerns around their development, particularly language acquisition. Being able to communicate effectively improves confidence, and Speaking is a skill that can be taught to our pupils. Furthermore, research carried out by Voice 21 concludes that oracy makes younger students feel more confident about their academic performance, and helps older students to feel more confident about their social and emotional skills. We believe that oracy can help address issues of inequality and increase opportunities for all children in our school.