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James Brindley School

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James Brindley School
James Brindley Academy is a specialist academy which provides a high quality education in a safe, supportive and aspirational environment for all children and young people unable to attend mainstream school because of health related or special educational needs. We provide education for children and young people aged 2 - 19 who are in hospital or unable to attend mainstream school due to their medical conditions or special educational needs. James Brindley Academy delivers education across 11 sites including teaching centres and hospitals throughout Birmingham. We were excited to be involved with Skills Builder Accelerator to make more of an emphasis to our young people of the essential skills they were developing with us. It was also a great platform for staff to create new opportunities for pupils and staff to build and showcase these skills.
Overall impact
The highlight for us this year has been the Take Over Day where pupils from all age ranges of the school took up leadership opportunities. Students applied for roles and were interviewed by the careers team for job roles within the school such as headteacher, caretaker and administration with a particular focus on highlighting which essential skills they would bring to the role. The Accelerator programme gave us the tools and understanding to develop opportunities for pupils. The biggest impact was around the off timetable days where pupils demonstrated the essential skills, such as the Take Over Day. These days created a real buzz around the school, with pupils talking about the essential skills they that had demonstrated. These conversations continued in the playground long after the lessons were over.
Keep it simple
We have built awareness of the essential skills by having displays in every classroom and corridors at each site. Icons are displayed on hand outs and lesson objectives and part of teachers planning. Skills Builder is an objective on teachers and support staff's appraisal. Celebration Assemblies highlight essential skills gained and certificates are awarded to pupils. Skills Builder is shared with parents & carers through our newsletters and social media. Skills Builder weekly challenges are shared through our staff online information board and shared with parents and carers. Centre Leaders have been supported to include Skills Builder within their centre and this has been part of our quality assurance programme. Heads of Curriculum have received training on how to support their teams in delivering the essential skills within the curriculum. All staff have received training on embedding the essential skills within their lessons.
Start early, keep going
Training for staff took place for all Key Stages. This was then evidenced within lesson observations where staff across the academy were using the language of the essential skills. Opportunities for explicit teaching of essential skills were built into the curriculum offered outside of normal lessons. Through form time activities young people have had weekly opportunities to develop the skills. Using the branded icons within lessons demonstrate which essential skills are being used. This is evidenced on resources provided by curriculum areas. Our newsletters have included challenges for parents / carers to support pupils with at home.
Measure it
We have created passports to track pupils progress. The passports include ladders within each essential skill so pupils can see where they are and what they need to work on. These are reviewed with form tutors so pupils can celebrate the skills they have achieved and those that still need further development.
Focus tightly
There is a weekly skills focus on form timetables which filters into other curriculum lessons. Skill of the week challenges reflect the skills builder events. Essential skills are written into schemes of work across the curriculum. Skillls Builder online platform and resources support teachers to focus on building skills in lessons. Use of Skills Builder Hub and short videos have been seen within lesson observations to improve pupils understanding of 'why we need these essential skills?' Essential skills opportunities are also developed on an ad hoc basis as they naturally arise during lessons.
Keep practising
Assemblies and form time are used to teach the essential skills. Throughout the year, the careers programme provided young people with the opportunity to meet employers and see how they use the essential skills. Pupils also developed the skills through our enrichment programme (Wellbeing Wednesday). Off timetable days focused on the essential skills including; no pens day Wednesday (Speaking and Listening), Takeover day (Leadership and Teamwork) and our challenge day which used all the skills.
Bring it to life
Employee encounters use the essential skills as a talking point linked to subjects. Work experience opportunities internally and externally in Year 10 relate to the skills. Off timetable days including the careers fair and careers focus days helped bring the essential skills to life. Care home and community projects such as stable management also show pupils the skills in a real life context. There are rewards for staff who came up with the best activities to engage pupils in developing the essential skills.
What's next
Our plan is to build on the excitement Skills Builder created this year with more opportunities to develop the essential skills within lessons and during off timetable days. We are also developing our tracking of pupils skills over time.
West Midlands
United Kingdom