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Hawthorn High School

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Hawthorn High School
We were eager to develop the notion of a common language around skills development within our school. Post Covid, the need to address the skills deficit is clear, and not only within Literacy and Numeracy. Pupils' wider key skills also need to be strengthened and developed and the programme, along with the integration of a bespoke, skills based new curriculum implementation, will develop a shared understanding amongst staff and pupils around the importance of developing essential, transferable skills that will from an invaluable personal toolkit for pupils as they move through their learning journey to employment and beyond. Focusing on skills, as well as ability, will also be a very useful opportunity to encourage and develop self-esteem in our pupils, and will underpin our aim in school to avoid the over-use of deficit language post Covid. The ability to make connections in learning - for pupils and staff is also very useful. The opportunity to collaborate with different teams will ensure shared understanding and use of a common language, as well as ensuring that the skills developed are transferable to different contexts and situations.
Overall impact
Following our all round 'Good' Estyn inspection in January 2020, one area of development for our school was continuing to work on improving pupils' Literacy and Numeracy skills, as well as their independent learning, creative and thinking skills. We feel this programme has offered us an ideal vehicle to drive this important whole school priority on many different levels - both academic and pastoral. We have also recently re-launched our whole school well being tracker in order to identify potential barriers to learning and good mental health, and we believe this programme has worked effectively in both a proactive and reactive manner to address learner needs. There are defined roles and responsibilities for Careers / Gatsby and PSE within school to support the implementation of the programme. Our phased approach to the implementation of Cwricwlwm i Gymru since 2019 means we are at an opportune milestone to look specifically at meaningful opportunities to demonstrate, develop and assess these important wider key skills and the Accelerator Programme has enhanced our provision greatly. It has also provided a useful leadership opportunity for our Yr 7 Form Tutors who have led, and will continue to lead, whole school CPD as we roll out the provision beyond Yr 7 next year.
Keep it simple
Skills Builder resources have formed the foundation for our new extended form time for Year 7 pupils on a Monday morning this year. Initially, we identified four main skills we would like to focus on, but after a very successful Project Day, focusing on Teamwork, we decided to prioritise this skill. Year 7 Form tutors have also extended the Skills Builder principles to their KS3 classes. Teamwork is celebrated and recognised within our Class charts icon system and we have also discussed with parents and families. We have shared ideas with our families on how they too can support their children's collaboration skills at home. We have also held two twilight sessions in order to introduce and then update all staff members in regards to Skills Builder, as we prepare to launch Skills Builder throughout KS3 in 2022-23.
Start early, keep going
Year 7 tutors prepared a half termly overview of how they would introduce and develop teamwork strategies during form time and how those strategies could then be used during learning opportunities within lessons. They also signposted relevant opportunities to further enhance those skills at home and communicated this with parents via email. Year 7 form tutors have referenced and signposted these essential skills in lessons, by means of Skills Notice boards, rewards ( ie certificates and merit points) and also using the Skills Builder icons and other resources as part of their planning.
Measure it
Year 7 form tutors recorded progress at two key points during the year, focussing initially on the four skills identified, but then honing in on Teamwork. The ability to direct pupils to specific resources, linked to their development, has been very useful as has the ability to measure impact. The Hub is very easy to use and resources are clearly signposted.
Focus tightly
The half termly overview, developed by Form tutors, has been key in enhancing our skills provision cross curricular. Year 7 form tutors teach a variety of mainly practical based subjects, such as Art, Drama and PE, and the planning for skills development has enhanced provision within lessons, allowing pupils to build their essential skills. Developing the common language we aimed for has been crucial, so that teachers are explicit in their instructions and objectives and pupils clearly understand how to develop and hone their essential skills.
Keep practising
We held a very successful Project Day in December 2021 which formed a useful launch pad and foundation for introducing Skills Builder to pupils, staff and families. Many of our Yr 7 Form tutors also hold extra-curricular activities, where essential skills are further nurtured and developed. Form Tutors have been explicitly referring to individual pupils' skills development in our end of year reports this year, which offers a useful opportunity to recognise and celebrate skills development beyond the curriculum.
Bring it to life
We are currently working to introduce elements of the Skills Builder to our Careers / PSE provision, for example all Yr 9 pupils have been working towards obtaining a BTEC qualification preparing for the world of work, which includes opportunities to understand the principles and benefits of Teamwork within the place of work.
What's next
The hope is to identify a member of staff to continue the implementation of the program next year. There is still a need to develop and support pupils' collaboration skills, as well as other wider skills. The key to success for us will be to avoid the programme and it's principles being seen as a 'bolt on' to lessons and learning, but rather as an intrinsic element of our teaching, especially as we move towards September 2023 and the formal launch of Cwricwlwm i Gymru in our school.
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