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Linden Primary School

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Linden Primary School
Linden Primary School is a large school, situated in Gloucester City. As a school in the centre of the community, we pride ourselves on placing our children and their families at the heart of everything we do. Our school values to nurture, respect, inspire and achieve underpin all we do and the high expectations we have set for ourselves are reflected in our school ethos of ‘Growing Together to Create Lifelong Learners.’ Linden Primary School is special for all those involved: pupils, parents and families, staff and Governors. We aim to recognise every individual for their unique blend of skills, talents and attributes and provide them with the support, confidence and right level of challenge to achieve their goals. In addition to a broad, creative and inspirational curriculum, our school prides itself on the pastoral care that we provide. We recognise that in order for our pupils to learn and reach their full potential, they need a happy, caring, respectful, hard-working and safe environment. Linden Primary School has embraced Skills Builder. The essential skills are embedded into school life and the language of Skills Builder is used consistently across our school. It has really supported the development of the skills that our pupils need in order to be successful learners and explicit teaching of the skills has ensured pupils are developing and making progress.
Overall impact
The Accelerator programme has really highlighted the significance of essential life skills and how children need to be taught the skills in order to progress. It has provided the school with the focused and structured approach it needs to ensure that pupils are developing socially as well as academically. Skills Builder has provided opportunities to bring the whole school together as a community and it has been really powerful to see all of the pupils building on the skills together with enthusiasm and commitment. Highlights for Linden have been the Challenge Days. Having the whole school work on the same project across the day has been incredible. The children worked with full engagement, enjoyment and enthusiasm. Staff commented on how it was really refreshing to work on something where the final outcome of what the children made was not important, but the process of them working together and building on the skills took the forefront.
Keep it simple
Each year we begin with a whole school Challenge Day. This really engages the whole school community, including parents and reminds pupils of the skills that Skills Builder focuses on, as well as providing ample opportunity for the children to practice these skills. Alongside this, each class has an interactive Skills Builder display. This often involves teachers and Learning Partners noting down and displaying how they have seen individual pupils apply skills throughout the day. We also have a whole school display which reinforces and celebrates different achievements. The school has mapped out which skills will be in focus across the year and we launch each new focus skill with an assembly. This is followed by explicit teaching of the skills back in the classroom. Skills Builder is included on our School Development Plan as a priority to support the Personal Development of the pupils in our school.
Start early, keep going
Skills Builder is introduced to pupils in Reception and continues right through to Year 6. In Reception, the children really focus on the Listening skill and build in many activities to support pupils to develop this skill. Years 1-6 work on the focus skill and use the skills steps to ensure progression. Key Stage 1 often use stories and picture books to develop understanding of the skill. As the children progress through the school, they are becoming more self-aware and are able to self-assess their own progress in the skills. Parents are informed of the skill in focus each half-term and pupils who have really worked hard on the skills are celebrated during assembly.
Measure it
All of the teachers use the Skills Builder Hub to assess the children at the start of each focus skill. This allows them to pitch the resources effectively and ensures progression and progress in the skill across the whole school. At the end of each half-term, staff re-assess using the tools on the Skills Builder Hub. This allows the school to build a picture of how well the skill is developing across the school. The pupils in Key Stage 2 have also started to self-assess themselves against the Steps in the skills using the essential skills record. This allows them to reflect and set themselves goals for the future.
Focus tightly
Each class is given explicit teaching of the focus skill using a range of resources, including those found on the Skills Builder Hub. Focus skills are mapped out onto the curriculum overviews and teachers plan in opportunities to reinforce each skills across their curriculum planning.
Keep practising
At Linden, we provide countless opportunities for the pupils to practice the essential skills. We begin each year with a Challenge Day and plan at least one project into the school year to really focus in on the skills. Other opportunities include whole school events like Sports Day and events like the end of year performance in Year 6. Within the written curriculum, the skills of 'Aiming High' and 'Staying Positive' are really embedded and used to support pupils in approaching a challenge with a positive attitude. At Linden, we have had a focus on Oracy across this academic year and the 'listening' skill has really integrated with the Oracy Project taking place.
Bring it to life
At Linden, we have completed two successful whole school Challenge Days 'Operation Moonbase' and 'Crime Scene Investigation.' These were a huge success and fully engaged the whole school community with Skills Builder. We have also completed various projects across the school. A memorable project was in Year 1 when our pupils developed their own postal service and put it into practice delivering all of the Christmas cards around the school at Christmas! The school has also been involved in working with employers and have sent groups of pupils to experience the skills in the world of work. This was a valuable experience for all those involved.
What's next
As a school we want to continue to build on the success of Skills Builder and the importance of developing the key life skills. We plan to make more explicit links to our school values and provide a more integrated approach to delivering and progressing with this aspect of the curriculum. Challenges of the pandemic this year has meant there have been many disruptions to the planned actions for Skills Builder, however, it has highlighted to us even more how important building these skills into our curriculum is.
South West England
United Kingdom