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Cunningham Hill Junior School

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Cunningham Hill Junior School
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 impact
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.
Keep it simple
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.
Start early, keep going
All year groups (year 3-6) participate in a launch assembly at the beginning of the half term, where we introduce focus skills. In all classes, there are regular and planned opportunities for the learning and practising of essential skills. This year, we have increased the consistency of teachers recording a baseline assessment at the beginning of the term and then as the progress through weekly activities, they record the children's progress. This supports us to see the children's development of all year groups.
Measure it
All teachers are now in the routine of recording a baseline assessment for the skills on the Skills Builder Hub at the beginning of the half term that they are being taught, and most teachers now record their class' progress as they teach the sessions, and complete an assessment at the end of each term. The Learning Ambassadors also feedback during regular meetings about their class' progress with the focus skills, and whether they have been rewarding peers for demonstrating the skills. Staff are encouraged to provide additional opportunities to teach children skills which need additional work.
Focus tightly
As a school, Skills Builder teaching is timetabled weekly, with short lessons to be used during these timetabled sessions. Most or all teachers engage with this expectation, and provide explicit weekly teaching of the essential skills. Teachers occasionally use alternative resources which have the same focus as the step which they have assessed their classes at. All children have dedicated teaching time on Skills Builder during assemblies at least once a fortnight, sometimes on a weekly basis. Student voice echoes this expectation and reflect that teachers regularly build upon students' previous learning and skill attainment.
Keep practising
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.
Bring it to life
One of the ways in which we link the essential skills with 'real life' is by having professional assemblies with all of the children in the school. This involves members of the community conducting assemblies to share about their jobs. They all had prior information about the Essential Skills and they all shared which skills were useful in their careers. Children have also engaged with some virtual tours of external companies, for example Barclays, and completed activities about which essential skills they saw in action. This year, we also ran a whole-school Challenge Day (A Day in Politics), where the children learnt about and then utilised the essential skills.
What's next
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.
Greater London
United Kingdom