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Judgemeadow Community College

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Judgemeadow Community College
Judgemeadow Community College is an 11-16 Leicester city school that is part of the Lionheart Educational Trust. Our mission is for our pupils, regardless of their backgrounds, to be the next generation of leaders in our community. The Skills Builder Accelerator prorgamme perfectly aligned with our schools focus of developing our students academically and holistically. We believe that academic success alone is not enough to 'beat those students who start the race out in front'. We want all of our students to develop the essential skills and 'polish' that will not only get them the interview but will also, get them the job! We knew that we had to 'explicitly' teach these skills to our students and the Skills builder programme enabled us to do this in a very clear way with clear measurable steps.
Overall impact
The overall impact of the programme is that Essential skills are now embedded in the language that is used across the school. Staff and students recognise it's importance both for academic and future employment success. The huge impact is that students are now able to articulate their essential skills independently and with confidence to outside employers and to their own teachers.
Keep it simple
The language of the Essential skills is used across all areas of school life. All classrooms have A3 laminated posters of the 8 Essential skills logos including the step descriptors of the Essential skills that the school is focusing on. Displays around the school corridors promote the 8 Essential skills and its links to our own 'being polished' values. The essential skills of 'Teamwork', 'Aiming high' and 'Staying Positive' are part of SLT's weekly assemblies that link to encouraging positive behaviours across the school. PDC lessons focus on the importance of developing essential skills. All pupil Premium students are regularly asked to identify and articulate the essential skills that they are working and the essential skills form an essential part of the Pupil premium strategy to remove barriers and raise achievement. It also forms part of the careers guidance interviews. The Essential skills are part of the Teaching and learning toolkit handbook for all teaching staff.
Start early, keep going
The teaching of essential skills was a whole school strategy closely aligning with our own behaviour for learning values. All students from Years 7 - 11 were explicitly taught about speaking and listening skills and a conscious decision was made to have all students start at step 0-7 to ensure there were no gaps in learning amongst the older year groups. KS4 form groups that had a solid understanding of steps 0-7 could then move on to steps 8-11. From the outset, students and teachers (via CPD) were taught about the link of strong essential links with improved academic performance and future success.
Measure it
All Form tutors have used the Hub tool to do a baseline assessment of their groups and after completion of the essential skills lessons, this will then be done again to show progress. As part of our Careers student voice, and in all careers events, questions based on essential skills have been included this year to measure impact of the Skills builder programme. We are also piloting small groups of students in each year group to use the benchmark tool to assess their individual progress. We then plan to roll it out to more students. Following the essential skills lessons in form time and all careers-based activities, all students have been tasked this year to input their essential skills in Unifrog under the 'competencies'. We are now able to identify all students across the school who are able to articulate their essential skills as well as identify those students needing further progress.
Focus tightly
All teachers were given planned lessons using the skills builder resources. These were delivered as weekly sessions every half term. As a school we are focusing on our communication skills, so we decided to focus on the Speaking and Listening skills. All students have been explicitly taught Speaking and Listening skills, building from step 0 up to step 7. In every session, there was an opportunity to retrieve knowledge from the previous session and there was a target set for all students to apply the skill step in their lessons. The skill descriptors posters in classrooms were referred to whilst teaching the steps and teachers made reference to these skills when their own subject. During Lockdown, we focused on 'Aiming High' and 'Staying Positive' and remotely taught the steps, linking in with our assemblies on resilience.
Keep practising
Across the curriculum, the corresponding essential skill logo is used on teaching resources, such as powerpoints, handouts and workbooks to give students a constant reminder of which skill is being practised and developed in the lesson. In particular, the 'problem solving' logo is used with learning scientist methods such as the 'retrieval practice' starter, which is firmly embedded in our teaching and learning practice. In addition to teachers, pastoral teams are encouraging students to improve their communications skills to improve students behaviours, such as maintaining eye contact, listening to others during mediation and being able to articulate themselves clearly when expressing and trying to resolve issues with their peers. SLT ensure that 'aiming high' and 'staying positive' are a permanent feature in all whole school messages and Form group awards have a focus on 'Teamwork'.
Bring it to life
We feel especially proud of how our students across all year groups are now independently able to identify and articulate their essential skills during encounters with outside employers and during work experience. As part of the 'What's my Job' and Speed networking events for KS3 groups, students had to ask each employer about the essential skills used in their job. Following work experience, students were able to describe how and where they had used all 8 Essential skills in their placement. Furthermore, during the Interview techniques event, the employers said many of the students were able to speak about the different skills they had developed in school. They said they were the most prepared year group they had interviewed in the city and I have no doubt this is down to the whole school focus on Essential skills and the skills builder programme.
What's next
We want to continue to build on embedding essential skills in all curriculum areas as well as in all extra-curriculum areas.
East Midlands
United Kingdom