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Harvills Hawthorn Primary School

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Harvills Hawthorn Primary School
Harvills Hawthorn Primary School is a two-form entry primary school near West Bromwich in the heart of the Black Country. Harvills is an exciting place of learning, providing enjoyable experiences that broaden children's horizons. Harvills has been recognised as an outstanding school twice in 2010 and 2013. We believe that every child is unique. We aim to provide all of our children with a broad, challenging, and exciting curriculum in order that all pupils achieve their full potential. We joined the Skills Builder Partnership to add to this expansive curriculum and to ensure that the children learn lifelong skills that will help them be ready for the next stage of their lives and ultimately go on to be the very best that they can be.
Overall impact
The impact of the Accelerator and Accelerator+ programme has been tangible across the whole school. Teachers have commented on how explicitly teaching essential skills such as Listening and Teamwork, has benefited their lessons across the curriculum. It has also been noted that presentations within other curriculum areas have improved in many classes due to the focus on essential skills during the learning journey. Having conducted research into the children's views of the programme via pupil's voice, it is clear that the children enjoy the lessons and projects and find the content useful. It has been wonderful to see the children's learning come to life this year as more of the Skills Builder principles have been embedded across our curriculum. In Year 2, we have used the "Dream Space" project as a starting point for the development of a new learning space: The Science Garden. This area was designed and built by Key Stage 1 children. In Year 6, we used the Construction Counts project to help us develop architectural plans for a new community hub and went on to present these plans to our local MP who went on to mention our school in House of Commons.
Keep it simple
We believe that language, and being able to talk through your learning, are fundamental ingredients of successful outcomes for learners. As such, we have added the vocabulary of skills learning into our already extensive language of learning. We use the language explicitly in stand-alone sessions, that are targeted to build the skills within our learners, as well as during cross-curricular learning. During lessons where wider curriculum objectives are being taught, teachers will make the skills explicit as part of the learning journey. Teachers will often incorporate the language of skills into their targets for each lesson. Each week, teachers can recognise children who have shown excellence in a particular skill. The award winners are announced weekly and given a certificate during assembly. Children can collect these awards over the course of the year and are awarded a special award if they collect all eight of the skills certificates available.
Start early, keep going
The Skills Builder Hub is being used in classrooms from Reception to Year 6. To support the use of the Skills Builder Hub and to ensure consistency of vocabulary across all age groups, each classroom has a display highlighting the Skills Buttons. This display helps us to embed the vocabulary of skills learning across the curriculum. To ensure that the children continually build the skills they need, each class has completed three age-appropriate projects. These projects are used by teachers to develop and assess the skills that they teach during their regular short sessions. Children in Key Stage 2 have also benefitted from extra-curricular clubs that have focused on improving their positivity and creativity skills. In addition, parents and guardians have been invited to school during art week. In many of these sessions, the children were tasked with sharing their creativity with their parents and guardians.
Measure it
All classes have been assessed by their teacher as a baseline to identify which skills need to be focused on with urgency. In addition to the baseline, teachers assess at three other times during the year as a minimum. These assessment points occur at the end of each term and inform the teachers planning for the term ahead. As part of our monitoring process, the assessment data is used alongside the evidence of learning and pupil's voice to inform our professional development calendar. One of these development sessions is used by teachers to share their current children's assessment data with the children's next teacher. This process allows the teachers to always have accurate and up-to-date information about the children they teach and allows for planning to target the children's next steps.
Focus tightly
Using the prior assessment data as a starting point, teachers plan the sequence of learning for the coming term. Teachers can opt to either; focus on an identified gap in learning or focus on a skill that is required for the end-of-term project. To aid in this process, we have developed planning documents that highlight the use of each skill, the preferred build-up to that project, and the cross-curricular links that could be taken advantage of. The learning journey towards the termly project includes short lessons that are timetabled for assembly time each week. Teachers deliver all of the appropriate skill step's short sessions over the course of the year. Often, teachers will utilise the previous skill step to ensure that any gaps are filled before moving on. In some cases, where learners are excelling, teachers will use the next skill step to stretch learners and move them on further.
Keep practising
We give our learners many opportunities to apply their skills learning. Each year group has three projects planned per year. These projects are timetabled and linked to other areas of the curriculum (for example, Design Technology projects that follow the Skills Builder Hub format or English modules planned to link the outcomes between the project and English curriculum goals). In addition to these areas, we use short lessons or discussions around the skills prior to the skills being used in the wider curriculum. For example, teachers will remind the learners of the importance of their stage in Speaking and Listening skills prior to presenting their learning in Science, or teams will have focused lessons on teamwork during the learning journey of a collaborative enquiry lesson in Humanities. Now that are dinnertime supervisors are trained in the essential skills, children are encouraged to practise their skills learning at dinner times.
Bring it to life
As has been highlighted above, we use termly projects to ensure that children can see the real-life applications of the skills that they are developing. To push this learning even further, this year we have worked closely with an outside agency to develop a series of three clubs that develop the essential skills using an enterprise context. These clubs have involved students from across Key Stage 2 and have been well received by children and adults alike. This year we will also be running Game On, a Challenge Day resource provided by Skills Builder. We are linking this challenge to our year-long association to the Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham.
What's next
Over the next year we will continue to develop the procedures and protocols that we have in place and further embed them as part of our school culture. This year, with the ending of COVID restrictions, we have begun to bring more of our essential skills learning to life. I expect to accelerate this process next year as more opportunities become available. In addition, we continue to develop our cross-curricular teaching of skills to further embed the essential skills as part of our essential practice. Despite Harvills having an extensive and ambitious curriculum that inevitably means that time is at a premium, it is our belief that the importance of the essential skills means that the time allocated to them must be protected. Moving into the next year, we shall continue to give the essential skills the time they require by using the language of skills throughout our teaching.
West Midlands
United Kingdom