Central Foundation Boys' School is an Inner London comprehensive situated in Islington near the Old Street Roundabout. Islington is the eighth most deprived area in the country and the fourth most deprived in London. This deprivation could present many potential barriers to our students' academic achievement. Almost three quarters of our students are eligible for the pupil premium, just under two thirds speak English as an additional language, and one in five are disabled or have special educational needs, all of which are well above the national average. Despite these potential barriers, we have an excellent record of sending students to the top third most-selective universities in the country. Over 50 went in 2021 in large part thanks to their academic outcomes. Skills Builder offered a great opportunity to directly address both the impact of COVID-19 on our young people's personal development, but also a wider trend that we see as a school where our young people have an undeveloped literacy around their personal progression both academically and socially. Our school community is focused on ensuring all of our young people have access to expert teaching. As a result, we are able to support our students achieve academically. However, through our work with the students supporting them with their post-16 and post-18 progression, we have recognised that while our students are able to identify their academic strengths, they are not always able to outline clearly how both their academic and extracurricular/social activities contribute to their essential skill development, and indeed where their own essential skills are in terms of development. Both the structure and focus on language offered by Skills Builder provided a structure from which we can start to incorporate an embedded focus on what essential skills are, how they are developed, and ultimately how important they are to a young person's development.
The Accelerator programme has been very helpful in providing support and structure when trying to incorporate Skills Builder into the school's framework. With such expansive materials and resources available, it can seem overwhelming to try and create a programme of delivery that will be both effective and impactful. The Accelerator programme helped guide us and organise our approach to incorporating Skills Builder and also helped us to identify how we could continue our progress as we move into the new academic year. In terms of impact on the students, it seems they have gained the most from the essential skill focus when considering their own personal lives and experiences. Our young people seem to connect with the essential skills when they talk about their interactions with friends and family and how they manage their personal lives. It is very powerful as it gives our young people real confidence being able to identify how, through their own work and efforts, they are developing skills that are valuable for their future.
For this principle, we delivered a Year 7 and Year 12 assembly introducing Skills Builder to the students, outlining the skill they would be focusing on across the term and the structure of skills-focused activities that would be delivered to them. We also placed posters for the skills-focus in every form teacher's classroom where the Skills Builder lessons would be delivered as part of the tutorial programme. Teachers also attended two teacher training sessions where they could develop their knowledge of, and ability to, utilise the Skills Builder Framework and tools. Moving forward, we plan to incorporate the Skills Builder language into our Dynamic Process Reporting for parents/carers including verbal discussions around student progress during Parents' Evenings.
Based on our two-week timetable, we have incorporated Skills Builder into our tutorial schedule allowing students to focus on Skills Builder once a week. During Week 1, form tutors will deliver a Skills Lesson from the Hub to the group and then as a homework assignment, students must complete the Skills Passport identifying their own activities where they are practicing the specific skill step. During Week 2, students discuss their Skills Passport in form time and share their examples with fellow students. That week, Year 7 students are required to complete the Skills Workbook.
Moving forward, a key challenge for us will be to incorporate Skills Builder across the school and that means securing the support and buy-in from teachers and support staff. These programmes are only as impactful as the engagement from colleagues so the all-colleague teacher training that will be scheduled at the start of the academic year will be key to gaining support for the initiative. Once this training is complete, we will also need to work on incorporating Skills Builder language into our taught lessons, with teachers identifying lessons where they can connect the Skills Builder language to the subject content students are engaging with.