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Primary School

Menston Primary School

This content was written by
Menston Primary School
Context
Our school is a larger-than-average primary school. Over the past few years we have been re-designing our curriculum and felt that now was the right time to be part of the Accelerator programme. Our curriculum aims to prepare our children for their next steps in their future. Within our broad and balanced curriculum we have identified three main focus elements: STEM, outdoor learning, and health and well-being. Essential skills are not a bolt-on element for us but rather a 'golden thread' that weaves through our curriculum and unites our focus elements and the broader curriculum together. In essence, essential skills are at the heart of what we do.
Overall impact
The programme has helped staff to feel confident about delivering direct skills teaching and has given them a clear framework to work to. For our children, it has helped them to develop as learners by understanding that skills are also things we also need to learn and that we can all improve in these areas just as we do in maths, for example. It has helped them to be more confident as a result. Parental response to reports last year was very positive.
Keep it simple
To promote the skills widely, we have displays including skills icons, steps and vocabulary in all class rooms and in communal areas. We have also established a separate page on the school website dedicated to Skills Builder which is also hyperlinked from other relevant pages (e.g. curriculum page). We have a Skills Section in the half-termly curriculum newsletter for parents and governors so that they are aware of this work. Finally, skills steps are shown on medium term plans using the language from the Skills Builder Framework.
Start early, keep going
All children across all year groups are accessing the Skills Builder Framework. Parents are informed of the essential skill the children are working on each half-term. End of year reports last year and this year have dedicated 'skills' sections linked to the Framework and use its language.
Measure it
We use the assessment tool on the Skills Builder Hub. Staff find this really useful in identifying the start points for skills teaching, They use their knowledge of how children use the skills across the curriculum to help them complete this assessment. The Extended Framework has also proved useful for children to see the small steps they need to take over the half-term to reach the next full step. [The Extended Framework breaks each skill step into smaller stepping stones to support progression]
Focus tightly
Resources from the Skills Builder Hub are used for direct teaching of skills and staff can supplement this with any other relevant activities they find. For example, STEM and our progressive outdoor learning curricula provide a myriad of opportunities for this. We focus on one essential skill per half-term as a school. Staff then plan which lessons across the curriculum will be used to further develop the taught skills using the wrapper skills approach.
Keep practising
We made a strategic decision that the skills would be developed across all curriculum areas as the core of our curriculum - acting as a 'golden' thread to provide the children with a sense of connectivity across their different areas of learning. The curriculum diagram on our website illustrates this relationship and can be found at: https://menstonprimary.co.uk/key-info/curriculum/
Bring it to life
For may of our children, using these skills in STEM subjects where we also highlight careers in these areas is a key way in which they understand how the skills can be used in wider life. In a Year 2 Design Technology lesson on bridge design, the children were using teamwork skills from the Extended Framework and we discussed how engineers used teamwork skills to design and build real bridges. We keep a careers learning log where staff record careers learning to help us monitor this.
What's next
We aim to integrate the skills more fully into our reward system which we are redesigning. Once Covid restrictions allow, we will bring back careers-related visitors. We want to develop stronger links between essential skills and STEM learning. Finally, we will continue to develop the understanding of the Skills Builder Framework in our wider community.
Yorkshire & Humber