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Hillborough Junior School

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Hillborough Junior School
Hillborough Junior is a 'Pupil Premium Reviewer' and 'Lead School' of both the Shire Foundation (a high quality teacher training facility) and a Behaviour Provision which, collectively, provides invaluable support to schools locally and nationally. Hillborough has long been a supporter of educational innovation having been both a Teaching School (until July 2021) and a Beacon School and wishes to remain at the forefront of current research and excellent practice. The school remains the CPD provider for the reorganised Teaching School Hub. Hillborough is an above average sized 7-11 three form entry junior school serving the urban community of the Farley Ward and attracting pupils from across Luton. The school is situated in a deprived urban area. The proportion of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium, EAL, SEND and Free School Meals is well above the national average. Our school vision is: 'To be an outstanding place of education that is mutually respected and valued by the community it serves where children thrive, aspire to excellence, and develop the habits and values required for life in an ever changing world.' We carried out various research into the habits that children need to develop into rounded and confident individuals. We felt that incorporating the Skills Builder approach into our curriculum would enhance and enrich the provision we already offered. We had a focus on what we hoped the children would achieve, beyond their four years at our school and felt that the skills builder accelerator would weave into the provision that we were already providing: we had an evolving PSHE, careers, habits and values programme that we were proud of but felt that it lacked cohesion. The Skills Builder approach, we believed, would enable us to pull all these strands together and empower staff to explicitly teach the eight essential skills, thus providing our pupils with a solid foundation that would travel with them throughout their lives.
Overall impact
The impact of the Accelerator programme has been excellent. For teachers, it has brought together all the different threads of outstanding practice that were already happening. For pupils, it has helped them to understand the importance of the eight essential skills and our model of teaching and learning. This is also true of our parents. The programme has hugely helped self belief within our pupils and the understanding that everybody has skills but we are all different and unique and have different strengths. This was illustrated this year when the school was invited to a Skills Builder Virtual Trip with Balfour Beaty. A particular highlight was the presentation by SEND pupils, who used steps from the expanded framework to produce outstanding work. A further highlight was the attendance by so many parents and carers at our coffee afternoon to introduce 'Skills Builder Homezone'. 104 parents attended and it was wonderful to witness their commitment to the programme. Another high point was the year 6 career's day, as it brought the skills to life in that it enabled pupils to witness the true validity of them within the work place. Additionally, our whole school 'Skills Builder' challenge day to design a reading space was a resounding success and it was a pleasure to take a step back and see the skills in real life action. Throughout the year, we have felt incredibaly supported by our Edicational Advisor and have relished the opportunity to collaborate and learn from others in the various networking meetings such as webinars, breakfast meetings and the partnership day in London.
Keep it simple
Essential skills have been embedded within the teaching and learning of the school. All staff have received internal and external training and are consequently well versed in the terminology. Half-termly, pupils gather for a 'Skills Builder' assembly, focussing on a specific skill. Teachers assess pupil competence in the chosen skill, establishing a baseline. Weekly, explicitly taught lessons on the focussed skill are complemented with curriculum-planned links to the skills in their wider learning. Our weekly achievements assembly is intrinsically linked to Skills Builder terminology. Icon posters are displayed throughout the school. We have engaged parents by signposting them to 'Homezone' through our website and a coffee afternoon which was attended by 104 parents. Information regarding the skills is shared on 'Twitter' and a half-termly Skills Builder homework project is set to embed the skills. End of year school reports refer to pupils' utilisation of skills across the curriculum.
Start early, keep going
All classes have regular and planned opportunities for the learning and practising of the essential skills. The SLT are fully committed to the implementation of Skills Builder across the curriculum, allowing staff time to integrate it into year group planning, have provided INSET opportunities and encouraged parental engagement. Staff are empowered to identify the relevant starting points for their respective classes, based on the universal framework, to ensure that delivery and content are appropriate for the level of their pupils. Children with greater learning needs are assessed on the expanded framework. By introducing the programme to our youngest pupils, they have the fullest opportunity to practise, develop and embed these essential skills so that by the end of the key stage, pupils have the growth mind-set to enable them to successfully move onto the next stage of their learning journey and beyond. Our vision is to become a 'flagship school' to further promote Skills Builder.
Measure it
All teachers regularly use formative assessment of the pupils on the hub to prioritise, inform and measure the teaching of essential skills, before, during and post delivery. The Skills Builder Lead, alongside our educational advisor, shared the expanded framework to ensure staff became familiar with the expectations of each step so that they were confident and competent in the group/ class assessment that they were making. It was decided that some pupils would benefit from individual assessments which were, in turn, created on the 'Hub' to enable personalised interventions. The Headteacher, in consultation with SLT, uses the hub report to monitor usage and progress across the skills. Lesson observations confirm the extent to which skills builder is embedded across the curriculum. This information is evaluated and shared with staff to inform next steps, which is evident in the school development plan.
Focus tightly
The Skills Builder approach has been embedded into the curriculum as evidenced by medium term plans and the school development plan . Staff believe that Skills Builder has enhanced and enriched provision already available at Hillborough. The Skills Builder framework is now underpinning the entire curriculum and ethos of the school. Teachers and TAs link the essential skills to the values and habits adopted at the school. Each class has, and will continue to, receive a dedicated 30 minute session each Monday for the explicit teaching of a skill- reflected on timetables and in planning. Pupil progress meetings also reference the essential skills as do end of year reports. It is understood that cohorts, based on the fact that they come with different experiences, will start at different learning points, and this is reflected in their initial baseline assessments. Additionally, some pupils have benefited from individual assessments which have been reflected in personalised interventions.
Keep practising
Our curriculum intent references the essential skills. Historically, at the core of our ethos has been 6 'values' based on the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games. We are also committed to encouraging our pupils to adopt good habits based on the research of Bill Lucas. Although we have aspired for our children to achieve these, we were uncertain as to how they would get there until we discovered Skills Builder. The Framework is a key resource in enabling these values and habits to become a reality: it's the vehicle that enables our pupils to initially learn and continually practise key skills so that the values and habits become innate. Consequently, all teachers provide regular opportunities for students to practise essential skills in the wider curriculum. All extra-curricular activities and trips provide opportunities for students to practise essential skills. Enrichment sessions take place every Friday afternoon, aiming to develop the skills organically.
Bring it to life
Opportunities are provided for all students to have experiences to apply essential skills: the school has an excellent reputation when competing and participating in sports competitions. This is equally true of the plethora of 'arts' opportunities on offer culminating in Hillborough's 'Great Get Together'. Trips and visits are organised throughout the year to enrich the curriculum and to bring the skills to life.Volunteering opportunities are many where students can use their skills: eco warriors, school council, e-safety council, student library, tuck and stationary shop. Challenge days enable pupils to apply skills to real-life projects. Opportunities are provided to visit Kidzania allowing them to 'aspire to what they know exists'. This is built upon by providing STEM opportunities, linking pupils to local universities. This culminates in the annual Year 6 'careers week', where volunteers are directed to share the essential skills relevant to their employment.
What's next
We have a number of 'next steps' we would like to develop over the coming year: -Gain 'Flagship' status: Our belief in Skills Builder as a driver of positive change has been shared with other head teachers at strategic meetings and we want to enlist more schools onto the programme -Incorporate 'Skills Builder' targets into IEPS -Culture books: include half termly reflections linked to Skills Builder -Set up 'Skills Builder' spotters - Deliver Skills Builder training to the wider school community, including lunchtime supervisors
East of England
United Kingdom