Knutton St. Mary's is a Church of England academy with approximately 200 pupils from Nursery to Year 6, situated in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire. We are part of St. Bart's Multi-Academy Trust which is a family of 19 schools in the West Midlands. Our school is committed to enabling every individual to flourish; fulfilling their God-given potential and becoming lifelong learners, so they 'shine like bright stars in the sky'. We believe that our children deserve a school which provides high quality education that broadens horizons, builds resilience and raises future aspirations. For us, in preparing children for their futures in the 21st Century, the essential skills were the missing part of the jigsaw and we knew that Skills Builder would fully support our vision. Skills Builder supports all children in developing the essential skills at their own pace, building an understanding of their own strengths and next steps. This enables all children to experience empowerment and success.
Implementing the essential skills in Knutton St. Mary's has been hugely beneficial for our school community. It has fully supported our vision and has enriched our recovery following the pandemic, with the whole school working together to develop the essential skills. As we have been rebuilding community links, it has given us a clear purpose and Framework which has underpinned our children's development. For example, in our intergenerational work. The training ensured that staff felt confident to teach the skills explicitly and weave them through the curriculum. This is evident across the whole school. The EYFS Lead stated; "It has supported the staff in building strong foundations as the children continue on their learning journey." In Year 6, the teacher commented; "It works well with the curriculum and matches the personal needs of the children."
All teachers use the Skills Builder Hub to baseline children and use this to prioritise and inform their teaching of essential skills. This ensures that children are being taught and given opportunities to apply the appropriate steps. At the end of a monthly skill focus, teachers assess progress from the baseline. In addition, teachers revisit their assessments where continued application of an earlier focus skill across the curriculum and through wider opportunities has secured progress, such as a visit or a themed day. Other staff involved with the class, including the teaching assistant, contribute to this.
All teachers exploit links across the curriculum areas in order to provide opportunities for children to practise the essential skills. In EYFS, this is a focus of continuous provision. In KS1 and KS2, this encompasses the full range of the curriculum, from English and Maths, to PE and Music. We have developed wider opportunities which focus on the essential skills. This includes the KS2 residential and community events. Each January, we start the new year with a whole school topic based on a shared text. During our planning for this, subject leaders worked as a team to develop learning opportunities to use and reinforce the essential skills. All of our extra-curricular activities have a specific skill focus. For example, our Goblin Car club focuses on problem solving whilst our Mindfulness club focuses on staying positive.
Knutton St. Mary's is committed to further embedding the essential skills in order to support us in improving the life chances of all of our children. We will continue to build our wider community links and ensure there are many opportunities to welcome parents/carers into school for project days and events. We have rewritten aspects of our curriculum to ensure that opportunities such as enterprise challenges are planned for from September. As all staff and children are now familiar with the essential skills, we will continue to develop and broaden opportunities throughout the curriculum. We will also explore the use of the Expanded Framework and use the Stepping Stones where appropriate.