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Danesholme Infant Academy

This content was written by
Danesholme Infant Academy
We are a large primary school in Corby, and we're part of the Greenwood Academies Trust.
Overall impact
For Teachers: The Accelerator programme has given teachers lots of opportunities for them to work effectively with their children to ensure they develop their children's skills. The Skills Builder Hub has a wealth of information for them to use to ensure they give their children every opportunity possible for them to succeed. Posters and information have been printed out and each class has a Skills Builder display board which the children can refer to. For Children: The children now have a wealth of knowledge which they can use to develop the skills they need for the world of work. They have access to activities which they use to role play the skills or demonstrate their skills. They have access to a display board in their classroom where they can have some of their skills development work displayed so they can refer back to it or discuss with their teacher of a visitor. Wider Community: Parents have commented on how much their child has developed in their skills. They have enjoyed being part of their child's skill development and this is very evident in the amount of evidence that parents have uploaded to the learning platforms.
Keep it simple
It was decided that every term two different essential skills would be addressed. This meant that from nursery through to Year 2 everyone was working on the same two skills. To ensure everybody understood what skills were being developed in each classroom, the skills were displayed on the classroom doors. Any member of staff or visitor would know, when they entered that classroom what skills they were working on for the term. This covered not just the skill explanation, but what the children needed to do to ensure they were developing that skill. This proved popular as anyone entering the class could talk to the children about their skills and how they were being developed. It was important that as skills were decided for the term these skills and how they could be met was also shared with parents via the newsletters. Parents were encouraged to send in photos of their children at home demonstrating the skills. This enhanced the whole home school approach as both parents and teachers were working together.
Start early, keep going
Our approach to Skills Builder has ensured it starts with our nursery children and follows through to our eldest Year 2 children. We felt as a staff that it was important that as we started this new initiative that everyone was included. Having a whole school approach also ensured that staff, including dinner supervisors and office staff knew that they could talk to every member of the school community about what skills they were working on. Parents are involved and are made aware of the specific skills being developed through newsletters at the beginning of term. The nursery and reception parents have access to an online platform called Tapestry where they can upload photos and share evidence that their child is developing in specific skills.
Measure it
When a new skill is introduced the children are made aware of what that looks like in practice. The children have the opportunity to discuss with the class what they could do to demonstrate that they are working on that skill. Staff complete the baseline assessment on the Skills Builder Hub. This is complemented by teachers talking with the children about where they think they are with their skill development which promotes more individualised feedback. Discussions with children appear to be the most effective way for staff to assess if their children have mastered their skills. To complement this, any evidence of a child performing their skill will be captured and kept in the child's notes for reference.
Focus tightly
Lessons and activities are chosen to ensure the children have a chance to build their essential skills. This may be through a specific lesson, for example when working towards the speaking skill the children may be asked to talk about what they have been learning. When working on a practical maths activity the children may be encouraged to work together, etc. In our classrooms there are always opportunities for independent continuous provision to be assessed. This means teachers can observe both a directed activity but also a child-initiated activity. The teachers are finding this very useful as it demonstrates how secure the child's skills are. Teacher observation is one of the strongest and most informative ways of assessing if a child understands the skill being developed. This is then recorded using Tapestry or One note.
Keep practising
Continuous provision is working well for the children to practice their skills. This gives the child opportunities to demonstrate the skills being developed. Once skills have been introduced and demonstrated in lessons the teachers ensure that they provide opportunities for the children to use the skills. Skills are planned for within lessons and also during outdoor learning opportunities. It was felt important that the children had opportunities to develop skills in all areas of school life. Children need to understand that 'aiming high' doesn't just occur in a maths lesson for example. As all members of school staff know which skills are being developed they can be reinforced in breakfast club, dinner time and in after-school clubs.
Bring it to life
As a school we pride ourselves in the work we do to develop a successful careers curriculum. Skills Builder enhances the careers curriculum as it enables our children to understand that in the world of work they need these essential skills. We talk to our children about their career aspirations and what skills they think they will need in order to be successful in their chosen careers. Teachers have observed children saying things for example 'I need to be a good listener as I want to be a nurse', 'I am aiming high as I want to be a teacher'. We invite visitors into school (online this year due to Covid) and the children ask these volunteers what skills they needed for their career. This has proved very successful and parents have also commented that their children know what skills they need for their chosen career interest.
What's next
Our next steps are to ensure the programme is thoroughly embedded in the long-term curriculum plans. This year we have ensured all skills have been explored but we feel the next step is embedding the skills where they best fit the topic. We will also be ensuring that as we move forward the children will be more involved in assessing their own skill development and encouraged to think about their own individual next steps. We will also review how we use the Hub more next year, with the challenges being integrated more into the broader curriculum.
East Midlands
United Kingdom