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Catcote Academy

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Catcote Academy
Catcote Academy is a Specialist School with students ranging from 11 to 19 years. Our students have a range of additional needs ranging from profound and multiple learning difficulties to moderate learning difficulties. We specialise in autism and also for those with social and emotional difficulties. All of our students have an Educational Health Care Plan.
Overall impact
The overall confidence of students in regards to their work related learning and on their placements has definitely increased. We have had a winner in the 'Inclusive Skills' competition this year. As a whole school, we won three of the awards at the Tees Combined authority SEN careers Challenge. One student had the confidence to overcome her severe lifelong fear of public speaking and was recognised as an outstanding contributor at the event. We have increased the number of our students who have been able to secure paid employment. Teachers have found the structure and resources behind Skills Builder a great facilitator for learning in the classroom. The shared language across the school has increased focus on essential skills and ensuring students do not miss a learning opportunity. The implementation of the Careers challenge week was helped greatly by training given by Skills Builder staff to our teachers who went on to write the outline for the week and set the challenges. As indicated earlier, this had a huge impact on our students and was covered in the press to highlight the skills and abilities in the specialist school sector in our area.
Keep it simple
Classrooms in our academic 'Red Pathway' have Skills Builder displays with the 8 essential skills, steps and pictures of students evidencing where they have achieved those skill steps. Our half termly 'Praise Sheets' where teacher 'Assessing Student Progress' (ASP) data is converted into a positive comment for the pupil is wrapped up in an essential skill. The Essential Skills are referenced in Schemes of Learning (SOL) and teachers are given examples of opportunities of how skills can be introduced and referenced in lessons. All students have an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) and 'Outcome Plans' (OP) sit alongside this. The outcome plan targets are written against Government 'Preparation for Adulthood' (PfA) but 3 out of the 4 are measured against essential skills steps. Termly awards are based around the language of one or more of the Essential Skills
Start early, keep going
Skills Builder was initially introduced at Key Stage 5 (KS5) in our 6th Form provision to work alongside our Work Related Learning (WRL) offer of workskills, internal and external work placements. Over the years, we have taken it into our lessons at KS5 and more recently KS4 with plans to take it into KS3. We were a specialist Business and Enterprise College and when we moved to being an Academy we still focused very much on work-related skills. We have Enterprise lessons at KS3 and KS4. We have our own internal Coffee shop which all students work in and an ex student of ours is now the manager. We also have our own external cafe and shop in the town centre where KS4 and KS5 students work and build on their essential skills.
Measure it
Progress is measured in various ways. Every term, progress is measured in OP's against six essential skills within the context of the PfA strategy. During lessons, teachers use various formative assessment techniques to assess if students have made progress against skill steps. At work related learning placements, students have their own record booklet which has been personalised to their outcomes. The booklet has been produced by our Careers Lead who has used the eight essential skills as a base to let job coaches and employers record skills used at the work place. Some teachers at KS5 and KS4 use the resources within the Skills Builder Hub to teach and assess skills. We have been successful in getting 1 in 5 of our leavers into paid employment this year against a national average of 1 in 20 as a specialist setting.
Focus tightly
Teachers will use a common language of the skills and make reference to them on classroom displays when a student uses a skill in a classroom environment. It is important that students know that the skills are not just for 'work' but are consistently used in life. All KS5 students access WRL on Thursday and Friday. These are either internal or external placement based on student ability and confidence. The job coaches and employers have bespoke work placement booklets which have targets based on the Essential Skills to they can be explicit with students when the student has demonstrated a skill. We try to link this back to a classroom experience to there is more 'joined up' thinking for the student in terms of what a skill looks like. Skills have been built into SOL in all subjects to maximise opportunities for learning.
Keep practising
Essential Skills has been written into SOL. Our extensive weekly Work Related Learning offer at KS4 and KS5 gives students many opportunities throughout the year. At KS5, students participate in various 'Inclusive Skills' competitions under the umbrella of 'World Skills'. This gives students opportunity to demonstrate their Essential Skills knowledge against students of a similar ability from other colleges regionally and nationally. We have had competitors and winners at the national finals at Birmingham from many disciplines such as 'ICT for Business', 'Catering', 'Hairdressing' and 'Employability'. All students from KS3 to KS5 participate in the national Careers Week. As a specialist school we found that the national careers week did not always cater to our learners. We worked with our combined local authority and pioneered a challenge week where all of the specialist schools compete together and have introduced the essential skills into many other schools through this.
Bring it to life
We work with the Department for Work and Pensions and have a dedicated worker who delivers a six week project in the summer term. Students at KS5 all receive a full interview experience with feedback from a real employer at the end of the project. We work with many employers ranging from single owner painters and decorators to multi-franchise McDonalds owners and have students in these real work placements. If students are not quite ready for an external work placement, they have internal work placements or work related learning in topics such as 'Health and Social Skills' and a community digital media and performance group which has been set up this year. Students can have the opportunity of paid work over the school holidays in our 'Vestry Cafe' or 'Catcote Metro' shop if they are performing particularly well. Some students have the opportunity to volunteer at events in and out of school times such as the recent 'Tall Ships Race' which was held in Hartlepool recently.
What's next
We plan to further embed into KS4 and introduce to KS3.
North East England
United Kingdom