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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 a priority. It was at the heart of transition and planning, we discussed our next classes on the Hub and therefore considered targets for the upcoming term. In Autumn, every teacher implemented and embed the foundation steps in Speaking, Listening and Staying Positive. Adults and children were referring to these skills, with help from prompts in classrooms. Since Christmas, Skills Builder has been the focal point across many aspect in school life. The weekly newsletter now shares 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, LO slips and in books. Parents become aware of the children's strengths in these skills through their termly reports. As a school, we have moved away from covering three skills a term and we now focus tightly on one skill each half term.
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 crucial for 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. 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 update the Skills Builder Hub every term (sometimes half 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 plan learning and activities to support the children in these areas. This will be incredibly valuable in our upcoming 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. In this way, the children understand that the task is focused on particular skills and that they need to understand and use the step being taught in order to be successful. Linking to these, teachers display the steps and logos on powerpoints throughout the day, again, so children are aware of the step they will be using/discussing. Children are motivated to develop these skills as certificates are awarded during assemblies. A highly beneficial training was delivered to all staff, focusing on this area. Discussing how these skills can be used in school life, explicitly and embedded within lessons. From this, teachers are beginning to use the resources on the Hub to deliver sessions to their class.
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. 'Skill Specialists' have been selected across KS2, their role is to spot people demonstrating one of these skills, then awarding them with a sticker. In Year 6, on both sites, our students are participating in their own version of 'Dragon's Den'. Students are working 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 (diversity and inclusion, debate club, community advocates, sports leaders, health champions, eco committee, reading advocates, playground ambassadors and skill specialists) the students at our school have an abundance of opportunities to see the benefits in using and strengthening the eight essential skills.
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, which has already begun, is the launch of the 'Hillyfield Challenge Programme', governors and staff have been introduced and aware of it starting in September. 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