As a school, we feel that discretely teaching the eight essential skills ensures all children in our setting have the opportunity to develop life-long skills to be successful. It has become increasingly clear that children do not develop these skills by osmosis, and if we chose to not teach skills which are deemed to support success, we are disadvantaging the children. By engaging with Skills Builder Accelerator, we could focus how we teach the skills and what our provision could look like. This has given us the opportunity to create a bespoke teaching programme for our school.
Overall, teachers are more aware of how to improve children's learning behaviours in the classroom and there is a framework provided to do so, enabling the teachers to deliver the content without having to improvise. The students are able to articulate why and how they could improve their learning, and with the Learning Ambassador Council, they have a voice in how this is done within the school. Finally, our wider community has gained an understanding of skills that they could develop within their children, and many members of the community have been able to share how they use these skills in their 'real jobs', which means children have an understanding of why we learn them.
To build awareness of the essential skills and 'keep it simple', we have focused on securing our consistency of language across the school. We hold parent meetings at the beginning of the year to reintroduce the essential skills and explain the teaching process. We have displays in key areas, including all classrooms, and a large display in the main hall, with questions for the children to respond to. There are also fortnightly or weekly whole-school assemblies, which teach the skills and reinforce the language. We also have Learning Ambassadors who meet half-termly and champion Skills Builder in their classes. They hand out certificates to reward their peers and work alongside adults to create competitions and activities to promote Skills Builder. This year, it was also a professional target for all staff to use the essential skills language when teaching children about prosocial behaviour choices.
At our school, it is expected that children have regular opportunities to practise essential skills in the wider curriculum, crossing into different subject areas, and that reference to the eight essential skills is interwoven into our day-to-day teaching. We have an expectation that children complete at least two Skills Builder days a year, with one of those being a challenge day. We also have a range of cross-curricular clubs available for children, where they practice essential skills. This year, some children have been rewarded for demonstrating these skills in the extracurricular clubs and there have been some opportunities provided to explicitly make reference to the essential skills.
One of our biggest challenges is teachers consistently assessing the children. To combat this, we are going to factor in some staff meeting time to support teachers with this. We would also like to extend children's experiences of workplaces at an affordable cost for the school. This may mean we can make links with local companies and professionals.