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Bedwas Infants School

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Bedwas Infants School
Bedwas Infant School is in the former mining village of Bedwas near Caerphilly. The school has 157 pupils between the ages of three and seven, including part-time pupils in the nursery. There are 5 classes at the school, with an intake of 40 pupils per year group we have some mixed age range classes. The percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals is 15%. Most pupils are from a white British background. As a Foundation Phase setting we are hugley focussed on skills development. We are a creative team with a strong ethos of collaboration. We have grown and developed over the last five years; this opportunity provided a structure within which to enhance the approach and ethos we have arrived at. The universal framework of essential skills helped allow us to 'bring things together', especially with the introduction of the new curriculum for Wales. We are focused around the 4 Core purposes; we are a school that places huge emphasis on well-being, empathy and collaboration. We ensure pupils have access to a range of holistic learning experiences where they can practice and develop these essential skills.
Overall impact
We have a significant number of vulnearble and ALN pupils; this provided the staff team with 'where to go' ideas for the indiviudal skill strands needing to be developed. Having the visual cards has really supported pupils understanding, especially pupils with ASD. It has been so useful linking these skills with the Curriculum for Wales, they really do go alongside one another and have supported us when introducing the new curriculum. Pupils helped to create the Four Purposes Bedwas Bears, we discussed what tools the bear would need on his belt and what skills. When we really got into discussion with pupils it was clear that we didn't have enough room to fit all the skills on their belts! Pupils were amazed by how many skills we could practice alongside each core purpose.
Keep it simple
Bedwas Bears are our way of visualising the four core purposes for our learners, they were linked to the essential skills. These underpin our curriculum so the pupils can see how the skills are transferable. There are four bears, one for each core purpose, the pupils worked on these to identify which skills they felt would be most needed for each core purpose. We decided the communication skills, listening and speaking, would cross all of the fore core purposes. We reward points for the skills on Class Dojo and give corresponding certificates in assemblies. We have icons on some of our display boards but in classrooms we have laminated placemats for the skills, all staff use these in lessons. We have shared the homezone hub with our parents to support them at home. In our floor books, pupils discuss the skills they have used in their activity and stick the relevant skill into the book.
Start early, keep going
We have used the skills and resources with all years. Nursery focused on just listening and speaking. The laminated placemats were helpful tool for all years to start using consistent language for the skills. These are used when completing specific tasks to encourage the vocabulary and awareness of the skills they are using. Parents were introduced to the online homezone.
Measure it
We have a variety of ways of observing and tracking progression in these essential skills. We have no pens day Wednesday where we were able to assign specific skills to the different activities such as forest schools. This ensured pupils were able to focus on skills such as teamwork and aiming high in this session. Staff members assessed their progress after the 5 week session. Staff have used the Hub tool to assess their class this year. This has been useful in planning our focus sessions on the skills. As a school this term, we have consistently focused on listening and have used a skills builder certificate as an incentive in our weekly assembly. This consistent approach has been beneficial.
Focus tightly
We run project based learning sessions every Wednesday called No Pens Day Wednesday. Staff lead on these and have identified and linked the essential skills to these sessions. The pupils get to learn and build on their skills during these sessions whilst also providing meaningful experiences for them. We have Dr Brain, Forest Schools, Healthy Planet, Super Science and many other sessions that all pupils access over the year, practising the essential skills that have been assigned to them.
Keep practising
We identify skills in our topic books by using the logos. The Bedwas bears are now also being used the highlight the skills across the curriculum. We have just introduced Lego Therapy in our school, we will ensure the pupils are using these skills in this provision. We run after school clubs and these are linked to the skills too so the pupils can see the use the skills in different situations not only in lessons.
Bring it to life
Our project based learning and our new topics provide experiences for our pupils to practice their essential skills and make links between these skills and life outside the classroom. We also highlight the skills in experiences such as forest schools, lego therapy and gardening. School trips have been linked to the skills and provided an opportunity for pupils to apply their skills to new experiences and reflect on their use of the skills. We discussed on our recent trips how all the essential skills were practised throughout our day and reflected on our learning.
What's next
We would love to continue to find more opportunities throughout the school year to highlight the skills as more of our normal opportunities are up and running again. We aim to run our 'No Pensday Wednesday' differently as we did pre-covid next year which will ensure pupils are practising even more of the essential skills and developing them throughout the year. We would assess pupils more regularly throughout the year to give us the opportunity to refine and reflect our planning and learning experiences. I would of also liked to link our use of skills more with the community, which could create more opportunities and experiences.
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