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Beacon Primary Academy

This content was written by
Beacon Primary Academy
Beacon Primary Academy opened in 2014 and is a one-form entry school, with 30 pupils in each class. We are in a seaside town which is a tourist hotspot during the summer months and we have a high proportion of children that are disadvantaged. We wanted to get involved with Skills Builder as the main aim we have as a whole academy is to provide our children with the skills and knowledge that they need to enable them to achieve their goals in life. Our curriculum is heavily designed to provide pupils with the skills and knowledge to be independent as well as resilient and capable learners, enterprising and creative contributions, respectful and informed citizens and, finally, healthy and confident individuals. We knew that Skills Builder Accelerator would sit hand in hand with our curriculum intent and provide staff with the ability to really embed these skills into all aspects of school life so that they are ingrained into staff and pupils thinking. Enabling us to equip our pupils with all the skills they need to lead successful lives and have belief in themselves.
Overall impact
The impact of the Accelerator programme has been fantastic, the programme is easy to follow, easy to implement and has been easy to make sustainable. Staff love the fact that it is all there at your fingertips, such as the Short Lessons and the Projects. Any member of staff is able to deliver the sessions and they are quick and engaging. Our pupils have enjoyed really learning about what each skills means and how they can make progress in the skills, they are also excited to see how the skills are transferable into other lessons and areas of life. The 'Dream Space' project was a personal favourite: it is fabulous to see the children enjoying, learning and being engrossed in an area that they designed and created. It is a great feeling knowing that the children we care for on a day-to-day basis are being equipped with essential skills that will assist them for the rest of their lives.
Keep it simple
Our Careers and Employability learning (Building Futures) programme now consists of explicitly taught skill sessions and are carefully planned on each class teacher's mid-term and weekly plans. All classrooms have the essential skills on display so that they can be referred to at all times. Some classes also have the skill tokens that are able to be put alongside practical activities to highlight the skills that are being used. There is a working wall display in the main hall, highlighting work from the whole school and linking them to the essential skills. Stickers with the skills on have been created and are given to the children when they are demonstrating the skills well. The skills used in lessons are added onto the learning objectives so that the children have a visual reminder of the skills they are using. Our Celebration Assembly includes awards given for use of and progression of skills. All teachers now see the Skills Builder language as a normal part of all lessons.
Start early, keep going
Our essential skill teaching when we began our programme included children in Year 1 to Year 6, ensuring that the delivery of Skills Builder sessions built up until they were delivered weekly. Throughout the year, we realised the positive impact the essential skill teaching was having and decided to include the Early Years and Foundation Stage into the programme too. Parents have been informed of the essential skills as they have been added to our visual curriculum intent and 'Building Futures' policy documents. Through the blended learning brought by lockdown, parents have had the opportunity to experience and get involved in Skills Builder sessions.
Measure it
We unsure understanding of the essential skills by holding regular staff meetings for Continuous Professional Development, questionnaires sent to staff and having an open door policy if anyone needs anything clarifying. Our Skills Builder Education Associate has also been very helpful ensuring there is a good understanding of the skills. Most staff members are now in the swing of using the formative assessment tool provided by the Skills Builder platform. Some classes have noticed that one or two essential skills have needed more work, and so have explicitly focused on those skills. Year group teams are encouraged to have conversations about the progress their classes are making during planning meetings.
Focus tightly
Regular opportunities to build essential skills are given by skills being embedded through everyday classroom language and links continuously made throughout all lessons. Weekly 'Building Future' sessions take place in every classroom and this includes explicit Skills Builder sessions. Skills also enhanced in other provision available at playtime and lunchtime with resources provided to encourage skill progression.
Keep practising
Staff give children the chance to practise their essential skills by incorporating the essential skills and language into other lessons. This is done in a range of ways: for example, using the skills displays in each classroom and displaying the skills symbols on learning objectives. We have ample opportunities to discuss ways that the essential skills can be linked into other areas of life and other lessons that are not direct Skills Builder lessons. We have also had a range of staff that have delivered the projects and found these very engaging for the children and enabled them to practise their essential skills.
Bring it to life
Alongside using the programme to help our children see how these central skills work in wider life, we also discuss on regular occasions how essential skills contribute to wider life. We are lucky to be able to provide our children with many employer encounters which is an essential part of our 'Building Futures' programme to broaden and raise aspirations. We always ensure our employers discuss how the essential skills contribute to their daily life. One successful and meaningful experience for the children was an assembly highlighting staff's personal work journey, discussing the skills they have needed along their journeys. Children are always given the opportunity to ask questions to the employers during encounters to help gain a deeper understanding.
What's next
The plan going forward is to continue to use the essential skills as part of our Building Futures programme, embedding it deeper into everyday school life and beyond. We will continue to build on our rewards system so that the essential skills are more focused and celebrated. One thing we would like to build is Principle 5 (Keep practising) and incorporate the skills into extra-curricular activities as well as life outside of school. We will address the challenges that measuring the impact has highlighted although there are already ideas for how we can improve on this. It will be good to continue on the Skills Builder journey and teach our children the essential skills needed for their lives.
East Midlands
United Kingdom