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Bradfields Academy

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Bradfields Academy
Bradfields Academy is a specialist SEND provision which caters for students aged 4-19 who have co-morbidity of complex learning disabilities and difficulties including speech, language, emotional, sensory, physical, and autistic spectrum disabilities. In 2014, we converted to an academy and became part of the Fortis Trust. The academy provides outreach support for nursery, primary and secondary schools/academies in Medway and Kent. Bradfields delivers the EYFS and National Curriculum as well as Accredited External Qualifications via subject specialist teachers and is underpinned by the aims, values and curriculum intents of our curriculum model. Our Bradfields Curriculum Model is underpinned by 4 main pillars: Excellence, Character, Learning to Learn and Personalisation. Through this our curriculum is planned, delivered and assessed through a pace and level appropriate to individual need. Within our classroom settings students access learning that develops concepts, builds on skills in a sequential manner and support progression for their later lives. Bradfields Academy is split into six different communities: Primary, Birch, Maple, Pine, Oak and 6th Form. In the Primary and Pine communities’ students are taught in their classroom base with some accessing accredited course lessons. In Maple, students are taught in their class base but also access lesson with other teachers. Skills Builder is being used across these three communities. The academy became involved in the accelerator plus programme to further support the learning and progression of essential skills within our curriculum for our students. Staff are using a common language and a consistent approach.
Overall impact
Teachers were already teaching and developing essential skills on a day-to-day basis within their classrooms. Through implementing Skills Builder, it has drawn teachers' attention to how important these skills are for our students and how we could improve our practice in developing these skills with our students and then capture their development. We are exploring ways in which current practices and interventions used with our students support the building of the essential skills.
Keep it simple
Across the communities which are using Skills Builder we have displays for both students and teachers to refer to the skills that we are building. In addition, we focused on 3 essential skills across every 2 terms, within our teaching and learning. Staff have had initial training and an introduction to Skills Builder, in addition they have had further in-house training to further improve their use of the Skills Builder Hub and resources available to support the teaching of the essential skills. Through this we have developed our ‘common language’ when we are implementing the essential skills and staff have been guided through the expanded universal framework and the sequential logical steps within them. A challenge day was undertaken, which incorporated key skills for students to work on and receive certificates. Focus icons are displayed during lesson and in classrooms for students and staff to refer to. Key skills are linked in lessons and practiced within assemblies.
Start early, keep going
During implementation of Skills Builder, students have been introduced to the essential skills and their icons. Through the student’s day, teachers are referring to the skills they are building upon within their learning. The key skills underpin all areas of learning within their curriculum and are further supported through the individualistic approach of students learning that incorporates EHCP, speech and language and other targets. For the students engaging in Skills Builder, communication is a big focus as well as supporting their regulatory behaviours. Skills are built upon using a range of interventions and programmes such as attention autism, SCERTS, Zones of Regulation, character strengths and investors in pupils.
Measure it
Staff have been using the expanded framework to support the implementation of skills within lessons and learning. As we use the Investors in Pupils framework and have been implementing SCERTS into our curriculums, these are being used to assess and measure individual student’s progress. We are exploring ways in which we can support students further who are working below the step 0 on the expanded framework and how other interventions and programmes can be used to provide further smaller steps in progression to step 0.
Focus tightly
Staff have been shown how to access the Hub to support the learning of the skills and some have used the resources to explicitly teach the skills, where as some have utilised and devised own activities to meet the level of needs of students. Staff are referring to skills within their planning and attended further online training to guide them on how this would look on their long-, medium- and short-term plans. This was beneficial as it enabled staff to see how easily skills could be threaded throughout their planning and linked to intended learning goals. Following our training sessions a folder was made with resources so staff could utilise them.
Keep practising
Students have opportunities to practise their skills within their curriculum, offsite activities, and enrichment days. We held a crime scene challenge day for the secondary students which was personalised to our academy, where students needed to solve which member of staff had eaten the principal’s chocolate cake. As this involved staff that were familiar to our students it enabled engagement in the tasks. During this, students were able to build on their skills and staff referred to the skills they were working on. In our primary department students engaged in science themed activities again this enable them to build on their skills and common language was being use by staff to build on students learning.
Bring it to life
Students are able to practice their skills within the classroom in topic-based activities, off-site trips and enrichment days. For those that attend after school clubs they can further develop their skills and practice those which they have developed already. Students can also practice their skills whilst moving around the academy, at lunch and break times and on their transport.
What's next
As we have been implementing a new curriculum model across the academy as well as other supporting programmes, we will be focusing on how we can further develop our practice in supporting our students in developing their essential skills. To further develop how we assess students progress against the expanded framework and to develop and add smaller steps for students that are working below level 0 to build on their learning of essential skills. To further link the Skills Builder framework within our policies, individual students targets and learning. As there will be new staff starting in the academic year, it is important that they receive training in the framework and using the hub, as well as updating any changes to existing staff.
South East England
United Kingdom