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Mossford Green Primary School

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Mossford Green Primary School
Our school felt that a lot of our children's barriers to progress within reading comprehension and developing as writers, was to do with their ability to articulate their ideas verbally. When discussing their learning, debating issues, commentating on what they could see, our children struggled. Skills Builder provided us with an assessment framework so that we could produce a baseline for our classes. Skills Builder then provided us with manageable targets and activities in order to create success criteria and push for accelerated progress in speaking and listening for all our children.
Overall impact
The impact of the Accelerator programme on our children can not be underestimated. The assessment tool, targets, activities and the language framework it gave us was just what we needed to move from good intentions and sporadic good practice, to a well-structured, whole school approach that built from Nursery up to Year 6. It has allowed our senior leadership team to develop an approach that can cover the whole school and permeate all aspects of curriculum learning. Essential skills are now an integral part of weekly planning and reflect how key skills are also an integral part for the schools development plan and school action plan. The highlight for the leadership team has been this incredible tool to apply across the school to skill development. For teachers the highlight has been the workshop days based on skills - especially the Skills Builder Workshop day.
Keep it simple
We have used the broken down targets in each class - these are displayed at the front of the class for teachers to refer to. This means that children across the year group in different classes with different teachers, will still be using the same language framework to discuss their essential skills. Teachers have been given time each term to adapt their planning to create more opportunities to develop essential skills around speaking and listening. The Upper Leadership Team have carried out learning walks and classroom checks to ensure that these targets are displayed and used. The language and targets around these essential skills are now embedded across a range of curriculum policies. Certificates and Learner awards celebrate children who display key characteristics of the Skill areas or who meet targets in impressive ways. This way, teachers, children and there parents are constantly hearing the language around essential skills.
Start early, keep going
We have built from the bottom up, ensuring that nursery children up to Year 6 are working on the same assessment and language framework to develop their skills. All teachers, from the Nursery to Year 6 (including all our cover staff) have been involved in the training and are confident in teaching a skills based approach using Skills Builder. Year 6 children are as prepared for the next step in their futures as surely as the Nursery children are equipped with the vital skills they need for reception. This learning from Nursery to Year 6 builds on prior learning - always pushing for greater progress. This learning is not in isolation, but becomes and integral, integrated part of their normal curriculum. Additional time for planning was provided to weave essential skills into the fabric of our school curriculum. The school's development plan, that is overseen by the governing body, continues to contain key focuses around the explicit learning of essential skills such as speaking, listening etc.
Measure it
The assessment tool from Skills Builder has been key to establishing a baseline that teachers can begin planning from - taking relevant targets, breaking them down, and incorporating these into lessons. Teachers regularly use the Skills Builder targets to monitor the progress of their children - this has been both in-print to have handy in class, but also online resources. The targets have been one of the best features about Skills Builder as not only can teachers assess where the children are, they can improve their skills in a structured and organised way as they move up the school. It also enables children to talk about and discuss their learning using a common language. Children and teachers can articulate where they currently are, what their targets are, what they are working on practising and consolidating and where they will eventually get to.
Focus tightly
Essential skills, such as listening and speaking, are planned into maths, English and foundation subjects. This can often be daily, but as a minimum, is a weekly requirement for each subject. Initially, skills are taught as a discrete skill - with time and focus paid to the target as a main part of the lesson. Then, opportunities are planned in for children to consolidate their learning of these essential skills and practise them in lessons. Planning in of discrete and consolidation learning is monitored by the upper leadership team of the school. Learning walks and monitoring of planning reveals that teachers are not only ensuring that lessons on speaking and listening etc are planned in, but these lessons are pitched at an appropriate standard for that year group and match the initial assessment that teachers carried out.
Keep practising
At Mossford Green, we know that unless learning and knowledge can be applied across a range of curriculum areas and on new problems, then it has not been assimilated to a great enough depth. We apply this to the essential skills that children learn too. For instance, when children are taught about tone and gesture in Year 6, they have to apply what they have learnt in different situations. For example, they had to present their maths and English learning to their parents online, live presenting to their peers about their political views, and presenting to the reception children about how to play a playground game. Each required the same skill to be met, but in very different way requiring the children to practise and display a deep understanding of the skill. The majority of our extra-curricular activities are sport based, so we ensure that the skills of teamwork and communication alongside their targets are explicitly referred to so that children can see their learning applied in real life.
Bring it to life
Our entire curriculum is a "topic-based" approach, meaning that knowledge and skills learnt in one lesson, will be planned for and expected to be seen across other subjects. To support this, we have a number of days where the children will have to accomplish real tasks that require them to put into practise the skills they have learnt. For instance, in our topic on India, the children were put into teams and each team was required to cook a product they had learnt to make, advertise it, set up a stall on the playground and sell it to the school community - this took an entire day. The children were explicitly shown how the skills they had learnt around teamwork, speaking, presenting, listening etc would be vital to be successful. This was seen in many other project days including the Skills Builder workshop day: A Day in Politics, which was a huge success.
What's next
As a school, we will continue to include key skills as part of our action plan. Speaking and listing are still key focuses in the plan, but this year we also want to include Staying Positive and Teamwork as our next Essential Skills Focus. The following year Aiming High and Leadership will be our new Key Focuses. That's obviously not to say that these skills are not being covered, but that they are not the focus of in-depth monitoring and scrutiny. We also want to increase the amount of Essential Skills Workshop days that we have - both through Skills Builder and one that we develop ourselves.
Greater London
United Kingdom