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Central & Bothal Primary Schools

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Central & Bothal Primary Schools
The Ashington Learning Partnership (ALP) consists of two primary schools in Northumberland which collectively cater for 1,500 pupils from age 2-11, serving an area of significant deprivation. “Teaching children the employability skills from a young age allows them to pursue their interests with opportunities to change their mind at any point. All jobs need the skills, so there is no need to worry, and they can focus on the knowledge acquisition and enjoy learning knowing that these transferrable skills are being dealt with intrinsically.” Andy Roberts, Executive Principal. Developed over the last 15 years with local employers and consisting of resilience, communication, team-working, being safe, problem solving and self-motivation, these clearly resonate with the Skills Builder programme, so it was easy for us to embrace this approach. Interlinked with the school core values they ensure that our children are fully equipped to ‘Be the best they can be’.
Overall impact
The use of the Hub has addressed the challenge of assessing skills to further target and validate learning. A detailed common vocabulary is shared across the Trust which has supported staff development and subsequent provision designed within the Skills Passports. Skill Steps have enabled pupils to make progression within skills at an enhanced level. The Skills Builder quality resources have made skills learning accessible and enjoyable for the wider community.
Keep it simple
Skills are intrinsic to the curriculum intent and implemented through curriculum passports - for example, ‘Sustainability Ambassadors’. Skills development is embedded in medium-term plans, pupil and staff books/planners and are celebrated by the community through the Ashington Learning Partnership radio station. The Teaching and Learning profile details the delivery of skills through the science of learning. Professional development meetings afford opportunities for staff to use deliberate practice to refine their skills teaching. Staff's Continuous Professional Development has focussed on exposition and skills. Staff have had slack core groups and once a week have discussed skills and shared practice from these groups. Parent meetings have a skills focus. Every Parents Evening, a child gets a skills progress report. Assemblies all focus on skills.
Start early, keep going
'Everything we do starts at two' - Pre-school staff use skills maps to shape learning design resulting in the introduction of listening stations and dedicated Skills Builder storytime. Parents are actively engaged through SeeSaw and collaboration with our onsite LINK family support centre.
Measure it
Using the Skills Builder Hub has allowed us to further personalise skills development for all through a shared understanding of progressive steps. Mini-pupil case studies are utilised to analyse skills alongside development gaps to ensure individual plans fully interact with the curriculum offer and targets are further refined for learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Staff have reflected upon the unique needs of their classes through call groups and used this information to spotlight class priorities. All Education, Health and Care Plans now have Skills Builder targets. Matched against the early years core expectation framework. All staff from the Senior Leadership Team have done a case study of a student who was struggling with behaviour, tracked them and assessed their skills and then made teaching recommendations based on this.
Focus tightly
Planning has contained a specific skill focus for a number of years. Skills Builder has allowed us to further refine our approach. Recent examples (in addition to the core offer) include reintegration following lockdown with explicit teaching of Listening and Teamwork through projects such ‘Farming Live’ and ‘Best-Selling Author' - Key Stage 2 pupils record their skills journey in their reflective journal in Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) and discuss this alongside their career aspirations.
Keep practising
Skills are embedded in the curriculum from 2-11. In addition to the core curriculum offer, extra-curricular learning is offered through a remote platform where weekly Skills Challenges for families are shared. Parents actively engage in praising their children’s skills development and share their efforts - our favourites include the 'Family Band', 'Drone Challenge' and 'Weather Watch'. We are currently working with a number of charities to offer a wraparound community offer. An extension of the curriculum, extra-curricular activities are badged against the Skills Passports. Similarly, our PE (Physical Education) department are looking at healthy living which is badged against the passports and skill development.
Bring it to life
Progressive opportunities are built into the curriculum for children to engage in real-life experiences including Arup, BMW, AkzoNobel; Wild About Adventure, Primary Engineer as well as the Challenger Space centre. Outdoor provision including the recent development of an enchanted garden complement this offer. The Trust is about to undertake assessment for completion of the primary career benchmarks. The narrative is about skills to give opportunity and change. During lockdown employers have been sending in blogs which set weekly skills challenges for the students, alongside explaining their job. The whole curriculum is designed around careers and sectors. This is built into the entire offer as opposed to one-off days. Highlighted by Ofsted, focussing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), careers and skills may help to limit the issue of brain drain in the North East. The school took out a stand at the Chamber of Commerce and students went to speak to employers to find out the skills which they needed and how they would be useful. Students then reported back and discussed why skill development was important in school.
What's next
We want to utilise the Skills Builder framework to underpin support staff appraisal and training with a particular focus on lunchtime staff. We also want to further refine deliberate practice of skills through the teaching and learning mechanisms at the Ashington Learning Partnership (ALP), as well as further develop the ALP's strategy for hybrid learning, including skills at the core of parental engagement and contribution to assessment.
North East England
United Kingdom