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Ellington Infant School

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Ellington Infant School
Ellington Infant School is a 2-form entry school situated in the coastal town of Ramsgate in Kent. The school is in an area of high socio-economic deprivation, which is reflected in the fact that 51% of our children are eligible for Pupil Premium funding. As the school's curriculum is currently under the spotlight, involvement with the Skills Builder Accelerator was a perfect opportunity to augment our academic curriculum with relevant skills that as a school, we had identified would be beneficial to our children. Alongside the knowledge and skills of the national curriculum subjects, we wanted the Skills Builder Accelerator to assist developing children's character and lifelong skills.
Overall impact
There has been a significant impact on the teachers and students at Ellington Infant School having followed the Skills Builder programme this year. One of the teachers at the school has said "for both teachers and students, I feel that we have learnt so much from this programme. Discussing and completing tasks for each individual skill has taught us how to incorporate them into our everyday life. The students have a secure understanding of what each skill means and enjoy linking these skills into daily learning by picking which skills fits into each lesson best." The particular highlight for us was the Crash Landing Challenge Day where the children could demonstrate the eight essential skills through a variety of activities. One child said, "I liked the crash landing because it was fun. My favourite skill was creativity so I can think about what I'm going to do and see how I will be able to do it."
Keep it simple
We have had staff meetings to introduce Skills Builder Framework and essential skills for all staff. We have had weekly assemblies for the staff and children to introduce the essential skills one at a time, introduce the key language of Skills Builder and share some of the stories that have been recommended on Skills Builder Hub. On the same afternoon, the children have then had a specific, focused Skills Builder lesson looking at the essential skill that was spoken about in the assembly that morning and to use the correct language. In Celebration Assemblies at the end of the week, each class gives out a Skills Builder certificate for one child who has worked really hard on demonstrating the essential skill for that week. The icon posters are displayed in every classroom to maintain awareness of the skills and to support the consistent use of the language of Skills Builder. Parents have had information about the Skills Builder programme and our focus skills on termly newsletters.
Start early, keep going
We have done this through weekly assemblies, specific and focused lessons each week and having each of the skills as part of our behaviour and learning rewards using Class Dojos. The children can have a Dojo point when they are demonstrating one of the essential skills. Teachers assess the children against the steps of each skill and then use the appropriate resources on the Skills Builder Hub. In assemblies, the first one would be introducing the skill and using the Skills Builder story online and then we use the stories recommended by Skills Builder on the Homezone to ask the children how the book and the events within the story relate to the focus essential skill for that term. Within these assemblies we also talk about how the story and the essential skills relate to us in our everyday lives.
Measure it
Most teachers regularly assess the children using the steps on the Skills Builder Framework and Hub. They use this formative assessment to inform them of the appropriate resources (e.g. stories, activities, questions) they need to use based on where the majority of the children are within the steps. Teachers then reassess their class at the end of the term. It has been really useful having the Hub reports sent to me every few weeks so I can see the progress that has been made by the children and the resources that all staff have accessed.
Focus tightly
We have timetabled Skills Builder assemblies for Monday mornings where we have an explicit focus on one of the essential skills. Teachers then teach a lesson based on the same skill that afternoon with a focus on the step that most children need to work on next. We use the stories and resources on the Skills Builder Hub. We focus on the same essential skill for a few weeks as a minimum before reassessing that skill and then moving onto the next one.
Keep practising
We talk about the essential skills during other lessons; for example we talk about the importance of teamwork and leadership in PE, creativity in Art and in Year 2 specifically we have recently been talking about the importance of the children's speaking and listening skills when taking part in the Leavers Show for the end of term. Although not planned for explicitly this year, in the the after school clubs, the children are demonstrating the essential skills. For example, in the sports clubs the children use teamwork and leadership, in cookery club the children use teamwork and in drama club there was a focus on the speaking and listening skills.
Bring it to life
We had a very successful Skills Builder Challenge Day using the 'Crash Landing' project. The children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 had a wonderful day demonstrating the eight essential skills with the crash landing site as the focal point for the day and children enjoying demonstrating the skills through discussion, drawings, writing and presentations. During our school trips that we have had this year, we have had a real focus on the essential skill of Listening as a reminder to the children about the importance of listening to ensure they stay safe in a context outside of school.
What's next
One of our biggest focuses for next year will be having more parental involvement with children developing their essential skills. We will do this by sharing the Homezone challenges with parents and carers so children can develop work the on focus skills for each of the half terms. We will also be making more formal links with developing the skills in our after-school clubs. We will add the skills into after school club provision for next year. This year, there has been a few staff changes in Reception, which has had an impact on the consistency and development of the essential skills with this class. Going into next year, we will ensure that the children who are in Year 1 will be following the essential skills from the first week and implement the full Skills Builder programme into the new Reception classes as soon as possible.
South East England
United Kingdom