Cunningham Hill Junior school is a two-form entry, county co-educational day school. The aims of the schools are reflected in the willingness of the children to share, work collaboratively and support one another's successes. They respect one another and are willing to accept responsibility for self and others. They display a caring attitude, show courtesy and self-control and have high self-esteem. They share the whole school's commitment to high expectations in all areas of their personal development. The Skills Builder Accelerator supports our aim to prepare our children to take their place in a fast changing adult world: including an awareness of the social, cultural, emotional and spiritual needs of others and the effect of technological advances. Teaching our children the eight essential skills supports our children to acquire knowledge, skills, understanding and aesthetic awareness, within a framework of positive attitudes and high expectations.
As a school, we feel that discretely teaching the eight essential skills, using the well-resourced Skills Builder Hub, 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. We feel that inviting members of the community to provide us with videos about their professions, and then sharing these with all the children, has really helped to bring the Skills Builder Framework to life. It has also been a particular highlight to see some of the Learning Ambassadors articulate how learning about the essential skills benefits their learning and future prospects to a governor of the school.
To build awareness of the essential skills and 'keep it simple', we have focused on creating a consistency of language across the school. We hold parent meetings at the beginning of the year to reintroduce the skills and explain the teaching process and have held staff meetings for teachers and TAs. 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 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 projects a year as cross-curricular teaching. For example in Year 3, they complete the 'Food Glorious Food' project alongside teaching D&T food technology objectives. Last year, there was dedicated staff meeting time where teachers wrote planning to support this. We also have a range of cross-curricular clubs available for children where they incidentally practice essential skills. Moving forward, it is the hope that children can be rewarded for demonstrating these skills in the extracurricular clubs and there can be opportunities provided to explicitly make reference to the essential skills.
One of the ways in which we link the essential skills with 'real life' is by having regular professional assemblies with all of the children in the school. This involves sharing videos that members of the community have made about their jobs. Whilst sharing the videos, we have discussions about which of the essential skills would be most relevant to the professions in the videos. This has been very successful for the children to see the relevance and importance of learning about the essential skills. This year, children have also engaged with some virtual tours of external companies, such as Amazon, and completed activities about which essential skills they saw in action. This year, we also ran a whole-school Challenge Day, where the children learnt about and then utilised the essential skills which were useful to solve a 'crime'. Furthermore, in the summer term, Year 6 children also had the opportunity to create their own companies and utilise all of their essential skills learning.