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Maplefields Academy

This content was written by
Maplefields Academy
We are an all through specialist Social, Emotional and Mental Health setting from year 1 to year 13. We got involved in the Accelerator plus programme to support our implementation of Skills Builder across the school. We were particularly interested to explore the idea of Skills Builder being linked to our students Education Health Care Plans and then relating them to indvidualised targets. Another element of using Skills Builder was to support the reinvigoration of our Careers programme at Maplefields and using the eight essential skills to explicitly link to our whole school curriculum drivers of Communication, Healthy Relationships, Independence and Self worth. After doing some research into Skills Builder and looking at other specialist settings, it gave us confidence in being able to integrate this into some of our existing systems and being able to track students progress with this.
Overall impact
It has fundamentally changed the language we are using across the school when discussing students targets. This is on all levels giving students much more ownership over their targets and a more thorough understanding of them and how they relate to Skills. The strategy meetings have supported leaders to look at development areas and allowed for tailored staff training to effectively implement changes across the whole school. The Skills Builder hub has supported teachers and teaching assistants with resources and confidence to use those resources. Linking the Skills Builder to the EHCP targets has allowed us to really focus and make everything secure, from the EHCP long term outcome right down to the short term incremental targets. The highly recognisable icons have supported students and staff to think of creative ways of linking daily school life to the eight essential skills.
Keep it simple
The Skills Builder framework was set up to work alongside our existing assessment system and staff training was provided. This supported end of term reports that were shared with students and their parents. Assemblies were designed to focus on Skills Builder; celebrating children's use of skills as part of the assembly . All children's EHCP targets are linked and referenced to the eight essential skills drilling down into the individual steps themselves, becoming medium and short term targets that linked to the long term EHCP outcomes. Across whole school these targets are displayed on students desks. Displays are in all classrooms and specialist classrooms to bring awareness that this a whole school approach and is intertwined with our teaching and learning strategies. Medium term lesson planning templates have a box for referencing skills and then these are annotated to show given opportunities. This has been added into the curriculum policy and assessment policy.
Start early, keep going
We have explicit Skills Builder sessions in Primary and Secondary on a regular basis. These build upon the eight essential skills. The termly report that goes home to parents shares this information and any progress made and next steps for development. Due to the Skills Builder targets being linked to each individuals Education and health care plan outcomes, these skills are being constantly referenced and assessed every lesson.
Measure it
There are three formal assessment points throughout the academic year, whereby we measure progress against the eight essential skills and their EHCP targets which are linked to Skills Builder. Reports are then sent home to parents. Teachers are accessing resources from the Skills Builder hub and teachers have been creative in their response to this, using extra curricular opportunities such as trips to example this. We have recently introduced rewards being explicitly linked to the skills. these are assessed every lesson and recorded on individual target sheets.
Focus tightly
Primary have a regular 15 minute slot everyday which focuses on particular skills. We felt that is was vital to provide earlier opportunities for students to engage with these skills. Secondary have it as part of their assembly Rota and it also plays a role in key times, which are a daily session for class staff and their form to look at student development. At the end of every lesson, students are given the opportunity to reflect on their short term Skills Builder targets that are linked to their EHCP outcomes. Students daily target sheets and their desk top targets, alongside the classroom displays, are all used to support this work.
Keep practising
The Medium term planning document has the eight essential skills icons on there and teachers annotate on their planning which skills have been included in their topic and focus during that term on a weekly basis. Extra curricular opportunites such as trips and visits are used to raise awareness of students using the essential skills. The reward system has been refined to fully utilise the eight essential skills during weekly enrichment activities which highlight which skills students will be working toward in that enrichment session, allowing students to gain rewards through exampling different skills.
Bring it to life
Some students who attend offsite provisions or experience education in a different context, have their EHCPs shared, along with their Skills Builder targets which are regularly assessed and commented on by the provision. Residentials, work experience in and out of school, in school volunteering e.g. students supporting with transition, travel training - all of which are linked to skills through EHCP.
What's next
To further widen the reach of skills builder, across all policies and practices where applicable. To build on parental engagement and understanding of the Skills Builder. To continue to identify how we can link to rewards and also our wider partners in the community and have student leaders to further develop this piece of work. To reflect on our current practice ensuring that we are including the eight essential skills at every available opportunity.
East Midlands
United Kingdom