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Hillyfield Primary Academy

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Hillyfield Primary Academy
Hillyfield Primary Academy is a seven-form entry primary school, spread across two sites. We are located in East London and reflect our diverse community. We began our Skills Builder journey in September 2019 as a way to unite and cement our school's ethos which is 'Brilliance in every child, Excellence everyday.' Our school's vision and values are excellent launch pads to teach, develop and promote each skill. At Hillyfield, "We want them to aim high; we want them to believe that they can achieve their dreams." The children understand that 'brilliance' can take many forms: we have children at Hillyfield who are linguists, great writers, exciting performers, talented athletes, exceptionally empathetic, innovators, devoted friends - the list goes on. Skills Builder has helped every individual recognise their strengths and provided them with the support and confidence to achieve their goals. The skills are embedded within our broad, creative and inspirational curriculum. The children are given opportunities from nursery, up to year 6, to showcase their learning and reflect upon the skills.
Overall impact
The children at Hillyfield have a deep understanding of each skill; knowing that there is a process in order to develop each one. We provide a plethora of opportunities for the children to demonstrate their learning and bring it to life. Experiences throughout school are centred around the skills, so that the children can see the purpose and lifelong benefit.
Keep it simple
Since September, we knew we had to keep Skills Builder as a priority. It was at the heart of transition and planning, during inset the teachers had time to discuss their next classes on the Hub; considered targets for the upcoming term. Each half term, the whole school has focused on a skill. Adults and children refer to these skills throughout the day, with help from prompts in classrooms, LO slips and displayed on slides. Skills Builder has been the focal point across many aspect in school life. The weekly newsletter has shared information about challenges and Homezone. A central display in the hall shows the steps, examples of work and inspiring people. The skills can be found across the curriculum; in planning, resources and in books either as a lesson or a reflection. Parents know the children's strengths in these skills through their termly reports. As a school, we focus on a skill each half term however the class teacher has the flexibility to focus tightly on a different skill.
Start early, keep going
Teachers at Hillyfield are highly creative, we find ways in which the essential skills can be smoothly embedded into as many lessons as possible. It is becoming a routine for teachers to consider the skills as part of their planning, then links during lessons are explicitly made. The children are introduced to Listening and speaking in Nursery: however, opportunities throughout the day are still provided for them to be introduced to the other skills. This ensures our youngest children are focusing on the skills before starting school. Our Twitter feed and newsletters are a way to keep our parents connected with what their children are being taught regarding the essential skills and weekly challenges. Additionally, during weekly reading mornings the parents use door displays to know what skill the class/whole school is focusing on. Parents have also been introduced to Homezone, making it an optional activity to develop their children's essential skills at home.
Measure it
Our approach to assessing the skills started out carefully as we wanted to ensure all teachers were properly supported in their own personal understanding and development of teaching/ assessing each skill. As a school, we aim to update the Skills Builder Hub every term. Since Christmas, all classrooms have a display on there door, showing the skill and step the class is focusing on (as well as the whole school approach), this is a fantastic conversation starter for the children and adults around the school. As a result, all teachers are aware of which skills their class need to develop more. Therefore, teachers creatively plan learning and activities to support the children in these areas. This is incredibly valuable in our class handover meetings, where teachers can use the skills as reference points when discussing their previous class to their new teacher for next academic year.
Focus tightly
Our school has gained momentum in using the essential skills in as many lessons as possible throughout the school day. As mentioned, we now incorporate a step(s) from a skill(s) in our Learning Objective slips and on the slides. In this way, the children understand that the task is linked to a particular skill(s) and that they need to understand and use the step being taught in order to be successful. Following the lesson, all children are given time to reflect on the learning - some teachers use this opportunity to use the skills to scaffold their reflection. Children are motivated to develop these skills as certificates are awarded during assemblies. Training was delivered to all staff at the beginning of the year and whole school assemblies have been delivered in order to spread awareness around using these skills around school with extra curricula activities. From the training, teachers now provide challenges every half term to the children - focusing on developing the 8 skills.
Keep practising
As stated above, each year group aims to make links to the skills in as many lessons throughout the day. Other examples of the students building their skills would include our Hillyfield Challenge Days, Creative days, Careers talks, community based projects and termly topics. Leadership roles are given to children across the school, for example reading buddies, playground buddies, health champions, diversity and inclusion team, eco committee and school council. In Year 6, on both sites, students participate in their own version of 'Dragon's Den'. Students work in groups to launch their own business enterprises where they create a product to sell at school with profits going to fund their end of year trip. This is just one of the many exciting ways in which the children at Hillyfield showcase their essential skills!
Bring it to life
Our teachers are passionate in providing as many real life examples and opportunities to develop and strengthen the children's understanding of the essential skills. Through everyday lessons, assemblies, community speakers, Hillyfield Challenge Days, topics that have real life end goals and the re-instatement of our pupil leadership groups the students at our school have an abundance of opportunities to see the benefits in using and strengthening the eight essential skills. This year the school has launched an exciting new program called 'The Hillyfield Challenge Program'. It encourages children to reflect on challenging experiences each half term, by the end of the year, they would have developed these areas: HFC1: Teamwork and Problem-Solving HFC2: Charity and Volunteering HFC3: Keeping safe and first aid HFC4: Outward bound and navigation HFC5: Overnight stay and living independently HFC6: Make do, Mend and Sustainability.
What's next
As Skills Leader, I personally am very excited for our next academic year as I feel that we have gained momentum in realising the opportunities provided in the curriculum to link to the skills. Our next step, is to continue developing the 'Hillyfield Challenge Programme', we are trailing it this year but have plans to adapt so that it is more inclusive for all children. It is an opportunity for the children at Hillyfield to reflect on experiences whilst simultaneously celebrating growth and development through achieving a bronze, silver and gold award.
Greater London
United Kingdom