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Cleeve Meadow School

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Cleeve Meadow School
We are a school for students aged from 11-19 who have moderate learning difficulties, with associated communication difficulties. We opened officially in 2019, and currently have students in Years 7-11. Statistically young people with additional needs are far less likely to gain employment in adulthood, compared to their neurotypical peers. As a school we are passionate about changing this statistic for our young people, but knew we had to do something practical to succeed. Therefore when we found the Skills builder programme, we felt it would be the perfect programme for us to support our students in building up essential employment skills, using practical, real life tools and activities.
Overall impact
The students have gained a great deal of confidence in their own abilities, as well as developing other skills that we may not have covered without the Skills Builder Accelerator programme. Students are using the Skills Builder language to describe the skills they have learned, and are able to reflect more positively and accurately on their own abilities. In terms of staff, the programme has really focused attention on the essential skills students need for adulthood and employment, and this has meant a real focus across the curriculum and the school on developing and refining these skills. It has been a real privilege to have seen the students over a period of uncertainty and remote learning, still being able to develop skills such as Staying Positive and Teamwork, and using this as a positive experience to broaden their horizons.
Keep it simple
There is a Skills Builder display in all classrooms for teachers and students to reference the essential skills being taught that term. Classroom doors have a skills target sheet showing what skill and step is being worked on alongside the students who have demonstrated skills, as well as a Skills champion of the week, showing the student who has best demonstrated the skills each week - this student is then awarded a skill certificate. Curriculum plans and overviews also have the skills embedded.
Start early, keep going
We use the inclusive skill passports to document the small steps of progress. In lessons, skills are referred to, to show how they transfer across all lessons and experiences. We held a Taskmaster Day, for students in school and those at home, linked to the skills. This enabled parents at home to see how Skills Builder works, and students got to complete a Skills Builder checklist of the skills they felt they had used. All students work on explicit skill sessions, with opportunities to apply focus skills across curriculum and through project-based learning. Students have been able to plan their own projects, bid for funding and then execute the project. During our Year 7 summer school, students completed a project focused on the skill of Speaking in order to assess and develop their presentation skills, as well as introducing them to the Skills Builder programme
Measure it
Staff baseline students on the Skills Builder Hub, and then record a final skill step level on there at the end of each skill focus. Students complete passports to show what they have achieved across a term/ topic. The Skills Builder Hub is really helpful to see visually where students are, as well as being able to use it to plan next steps and find resources. The passports are helpful as students are able to take ownership of their own learning and skill development, as well as giving staff an insight into how students feel they are progressing. All students have a skills folder containing skill checklists as well as the skills passports.
Focus tightly
All subject schemes of work have a Skills Builder focus attached to them to ensure the skills are being used across the whole curriculum. We use focus skills and skill displays to reference skills across subject areas.
Keep practising
We have regular opportunities for our students to practise the skills, both within the curriculum and as a focus for off timetable days. We held a Taskmaster Day and an Escape Room Day which had a Problem Solving focus. All students had an opportunity to participate at home and in school. and we found with our home learners, it was the highest participation and engagement during remote learning. Projects are planned with/by students using focus skills to identify areas of learning. We have been fortunate to have had some outside visitors come to support us with our skills, including a meaningful Mastery Project Day, an Empathy Lab reading session, as well as a florist and mechanic visiting to teach practical employment skills, alongside the Skills Builder skills. We also had a virtual Careers Week, focusing on the creative industries, which enabled students to discuss which of the skills were important in each industry and why.
Bring it to life
The student-led projects supported students to focus on specific skills and thinking about what they already knew and what they still needed to work on. During the Taskmaster Day of challenges and the Escape Room students worked specifically on Problem Solving and Teamwork skills. During Careers Week the students created costumes out of paper and other recycled items, using their Teamwork, Problem Solving and Creativity skills. We have had several employer talks, employer visits and a Virtual Careers Week - where students could relate the essential skills to technical skills and other areas of learning.
What's next
Next year, we are rolling out the project scheme further and having project afternoons once a week, where students will plan, bid for funding, carry out their project and then plan and deliver an exhibition of their project to the rest of the school and parents at the end. Underpinning each project will be at least one Skills Builder skill
South East England
United Kingdom