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’.
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.
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.
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.