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Forest Way School

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Forest Way School
Forest Way School is a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) school for students with moderate and severe learning difficulties. Skills Builder is is being used with students from Key Stage 3 through to Post-16. The school became involved in the Accelerator programme as we aim to promote the 8 key skills as part of our work on Preparation for Adulthood.
Overall impact
Teachers were already teaching many of the essential skills but were not formally recording the progress and next steps of the students. Skills Builder has drawn the teachers', students' and parents' attention to how important these skills are across all curriculum areas. Some of the highlights are that, by working on the concept of criteria, at least five students had their artwork made public in a national exhibition celebrating art and record album covers by the artist Pete McKee. This boosted the esteem of those students. Links to exhibition were shared with parents and links to Skills Builder shared with parents. Other students have joined in careers activities and spoken with confidence about their ambitions.
Keep it simple
Students who are applicable have been involved in the Skills Builder project. Staff have had initial training and an introduction to Skills Builder. Staff have been trained on the use of the Hub portal and have been made aware of the resources and the 8 essential skills. Staff have been given an overview of the resources available and the logical steps in which the skills should be taught. Staff within the classroom have displayed the eight essential skills icons. Students have been asked to recall what these skills are at regular intervals. The language of Skills Builder has been supported around the school by displays relating to the language. Students have been encouraged to think about what skills they are using when carrying out daily curriculum lessons and activities. Students have been able to use the language relating to the skills independently and by watching and carrying the activities in Short Lessons have gained an understanding of what each skill looks like.
Start early, keep going
All students involved in the Skills Builder programme have been introduced the essential skills over the last academic year. This is the first time that many students have formally done Skills Builder. Once a topic has been introduced and the skills understood, students carried out tasks where the can practise the skills. For instance a Post-16 class have practised the skill of working to a list of criteria. They did this by entering a National art competition. The competition set out a criteria of what type of art could be entered. At the time many of the students were working from home. This meant many of the students worked on that project with family members and parents became involved. During Covid, students were set challenges relating to Skills Builder; again, parents became involved in completing these challenges. Weekly Skills Builder lessons were also carried out via Microsoft Teams. Students have also used Skills passport throughout each term to record when they have experienced a skill.
Measure it
Each student was set up as a ‘group’ on the Hub. Where possible the online steps have been used to record the progress of each pupil. These pupils have worked on the skills and their progress has been recoded on their individual work. It has been the duty of the teacher to break the Skills Builder steps into achievable tasks for the students to achieve. Informal chats with the students have been helpful in understanding the students' understanding of the skills. Students work and practical tasks have been used to help assess the progress of the students as well as feedback from students and staff.
Focus tightly
The essential skills are taught in all subjects so there are daily opportunities to practise each of the skills. Students are encouraged to reflect on what skills they are using in the lesson. Students reflect in the plenary part of lessons about the skills. The essential skills are displayed in the lessons and skills icons are displayed on activities carried out. Previous skills and activities are recapped upon weekly.
Keep practising
Projects have been encouraged. For instance, Post-16 students have been involved in Young Enterprise activities. Many of the skills from Skills Builder link directly to the lessons that are taught in Young Enterprise. Other students have carried out STEM-based lessons (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). These have looked at the topic HS2 rail project. Lessons chosen have linked directly to Skills Builder. Such projects have given students opportunities to work on the skills such as Teamwork and Problem Solving.
Bring it to life
Student have used the skills of Speaking and Listening when engaging with career activities such as asking questions to employers and responding to questions from employers. Students have carried out the task of building a remote control car. This challenge gave the students the opportunity to work as a team and to work on problem solving. Other students have carried out writing tasks and were encouraged to talk about their writing. This led to a boost in public speaking confidence. For example, students have been encouraged to book their own medical appointments for things such as vaccinations.
What's next
Covid has been one of the greatest challenges as the curriculum changed due to online teaching. With a new influx of staff, it will be important that staff involved with Skills Builder are updated with changes and updates to the Skills Builder Hub. It will be important that parents are informed of their child's progress and that the Skills Builder steps are used to set individual targets for students. It is also essential that all students are able to access the essential skills. Skills Builder has been enjoyed by all those that have taken part. It is important that we continue to provide activities where students can practise their skills.
East Midlands
United Kingdom