Drapers' Maylands Primary School opened in September 2015 and is unique in many ways. The children in our school feel valued and our school is an inspirational place to be. Our beautiful, modern premises are designed to be a place where children feel welcome and willing to learn. There is a relentless strive for excellence, high expectations of behaviour for learning and we are rightly proud of our high achievement. Learning beyond the classroom is important to us and the curriculum is designed to spark natural curiosity, a sense of self and an understanding of the children's place in the wider world. The Enchanted Wood library offers a magical place for them to develop their love of reading. Within our beautiful and extensive grounds, there are areas to discover. Children enjoy visiting the wildlife pond, orchard and Science Area- where our chickens roam free. We use the neighbouring Nature Reserve to host our Forest School sessions, where children experience the richness of the natural world whilst developing life-long personal skills. At Drapers' Maylands we strive to develop essential skills in our pupils. We recognised that the Skills Builder Partnership will support our school to ensure the children have the skills they need to succeed. Drapers' Maylands is committed to build the essential skills for every pupil as they progress through the school. Our hope is that the children will carry the eight essential skills with them throughout their lives. We feel that the resources and support offered by the Skills Builder Partnership will allow our school to fulfil this goal.
As a staff, we have regularly evaluated the impact of the Skills Builder programme combining outcomes from pupil progress data, pupil voice, staff feedback and questionnaires. Gaps in attainment of essential skills were identified with strategies put in place to address any areas of deficiency. We identified rapid and measurable progress across groups. Pupils demonstrated greater confidence, often linking what they were doing to the skills they were applying and offering examples of how they were doing it. Although at first it was not always evident, but over time, pupils began to understand that they already possessed the skills we focused on. It was recognised that these skills can be developed and improved and that they can be applied in everything they do including future employment opportunities. Confidence in their abilities is growing and they are starting to value and appreciate both the skills they have, as well as those they can gain. Every pupil has experienced success in a variety of ways, but what is pleasing and most rewarding of all is that the children recognise this success and it is this which spurs them on to push themselves further. Pupils can now articulate skill strengths and areas of development due to them choosing and reflecting on an individual skill target. Equally, staff are more confident delivering essential skills lessons expressing how it creates a greater focus and better outcomes. Over the year, the language of Skills Builder has become common place in the 'teacher speak' during lessons. Staff are familiar with and confident embedding the skills throughout the whole school day and skill targets form part of parental discussions when parents are able to discuss with staff their child's essential skills.
During meetings, staff have opportunities for Skills Builder updates and feedback. Each month, we focus on a new skill, starting with a whole school assembly to explain what the new skill is and exploring ways of demonstrating it. Each week, every class teacher delivers a class assembly exploring and developing the skill further. Each class will deliver at least one dedicated Skills Builder lesson each week with other lessons being supplemented with aspects of the Skills Builder programme. Each class has a display featuring the key skills and how the skills can be demonstrated which is regularly referred to during lessons as well as at the end of a lesson during a plenary session. When we start a new skill, how the skill is demonstrated is permanently displayed on the children's tables. In Class blogs, the essential skills are referred to, additionally each week during our celebration assembly, one child from each class will be awarded a certificate related to the current skill.
Planning includes weekly Skills Builder lessons. When planning, every teacher will use the steps from their class dashboard as a starting point and build on from there. Progress is regularly assessed and monitored to ensure lessons meet the needs of the individuals. Each term, parents are invited to a consultation meeting to discuss, among other things, the eight essential skills. Parents are informed of the child's skill attainment and how the child will continue to work to develop them. Ideas and strategies are offered to parents on how they can work with their children to compliment activities at school. The parents receive a termly report which, along with their targets, indicate how well their child has managed the essential skills covered in that particular term. Additionally, the end of year school report also offers information on how well the eight essential skills were achieved through class work, learning outside the classroom and extra-curricular activities.
Teachers completed the skills steps based on assessments made through discussions, observations and practical activities. Teachers discussed outcomes to ensure judgements were comparable. Each week, class teachers deliver an assembly focusing on a specific skill. Subsequent lessons are taken from the Skills Builder resources or created by the class teacher. Prior to lessons, teachers review the skills, identifying the focused skill and any other skills which may feature. Post lesson, the class teacher invites the children to explain which skills they used and how they demonstrated them. Throughout Skills Builder lessons, and in other curriculum areas, teachers make regular judgements on how the children are demonstrating the essential skills and note individual's outcomes. Over the year, the children have become quite adept at identifying the skills they are using during certain activities and at explaining how a skill enabled them to be successful with a task or activity.
When planning, teachers reflect on the outcomes of previous lessons to inform them of the direction of the next. Planning has clear manageable progression to ensure that all children can achieve with plenty of opportunities for individuals to build on their current skills status. It is important the children have the opportunity to think freely and make their own decisions, particularly when considering which skills they will need to apply for certain tasks. However, it is equally important that there are occasions when the children can focus on a specific skill. During Forest School, some activities are planned to focus on leadership and teamwork. During 'Chatta' sessions, the focus is on speaking and listening. Every half term in Science, the children are presented with a challenge which involves problem solving skills. This term in year four, the children have had to work out a way for a knight to capture a dragon and for a mermaid to make a broken lighthouse lamp work.
It is evident that the children have embraced the principles which underpin the Skills Builder ethos. At the start of a project or extra-curricular activity, the eight essential skills are reviewed, discussing how they can be demonstrated. The children regularly work on projects offering opportunities to exercise their developing skills. Currently, year two are working on creating vehicles which can travel over different terrains, year five are designing and building the frame for a house which can withstand certain stresses and our year six classes are putting on a production of 'Matilda'. Another year group are putting on an exhibition; year groups are timetabled to attend, will listen to presentations and be shown around the exhibits. We have groups of children who work with a drama teacher, others with a performing arts teacher and many more with an instructor for multi-sport activities. We also have an artist in residence who works on a number of non-curricular activities.
We plan to build on our successes. We aim to be more consistent when recording outcomes with regular CPD for staff and support for heads of curriculum. The hope is to create greater links with the wider community and local businesses. Skills Builder will be a more entwined element of the School Improvement Plan bringing parents and local communities more into our realm. The Skills Builder programme will have a greater visual impact in and around the school. It is firmly embedded within the school's vernacular and so the expectation is that the language of Skills Builder will be as common place as the vocabulary used in History, Geography or Science. We feel the skills days have always been an excellent opportunity for children to apply and develop their skills so a termly plan is being devised for each year group to undertake a similar venture each term.