Return to Showcase
Visit website


New College Durham

This content was written by
New College Durham
At New College Durham we have been exploring innovative ways to enhance the curriculum for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. We are currently using a Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement (RARPA)-based approach to capture progression through the skills elements required to enable students to be the best they can. I felt that the opportunity to enhance the learner journey with the Skills Builder approach would give the opportunity for all learners to show progression, and mastery of the skills highlighted whilst giving a focus for teaching and support staff to facilitate and celebrate student achievement. All students work towards the 'Preparing for Adulthood' framework which includes developing skills in Employability, Staying Healthy, Independent Living and Building Friends, Relationships and Community. The essential skills and supported offer provides a seamless transition to track, measure and sustain growth for all students.
Overall impact
The programme has been a central factor of the blended learning approach which the college has adopted this year. The adaptability of the team and the resources has been valuable. Students have been able to feel successful and see their progress which has provided intrinsic motivation. The staying positive resources have been very valuable for mental health provision during a particularly challenging year. The virtual trips were so well received that students opted to come in on their day off.
Keep it simple
The college adopted a blended learning approach to teaching in response to the Covid-19 restrictions and the pandemic. As part of the remote offer all learners have completed the Skills Builder workbooks. Where Digital poverty was an issue, students were posted the Skills Builder workbook to complete. Some students accessed the virtual lessons in which the short skills lessons were delivered. Others completed Launchpad activities or worked through the skill stories.
Start early, keep going
All learners had the opportunity to engage with Skills Builder through the college blended learning approach (see above). This will be further developed next year to include explicit teaching for English to Speakers of Other Languages pupils who do not currently access the materials through explicit teaching.
Measure it
Students have reflected on their skills using the passports to record their learning. This has now migrated for some students onto Benchmark (one pilot group). Some staff benchmarked their students on the hub, though this was challenging given the individual needs of many of the learners. Some learners are part of the pilot group using launchpad. All students will complete benchmark at 3 points during the year.
Focus tightly
All planning contains a 'Work-Ready Skills' section which highlight how students will be taught the essential skills as part of a topic or series of lessons. All teachers used the workbooks and icons on their resources. This has been a core element of the blended learning module. Teaching staff are starting to use the resources within their lessons, selecting the appropriate resource. The skills are mapped into the Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement (RARPA) award. Individual learning plans.
Keep practising
New College Durham have piloted 3 virtual trips with UBS this year. Attendance was high and students came in on their day off in order to participate. Tutorials and Skills sessions are used to deliver explicit teaching of the 8 essential skills when students are in school. Teaching staff are starting to use the resources within their lessons, selecting the appropriate resource. Two skills based competitions - Problem Solving and Creativity.
Bring it to life
Students took part in the love your college week in which they took part in projects aimed at developing their essential skills. The activities were all mapped against skills. The work placements which have gone ahead were with family members; for example one boy worked with his Grandfather. In this instance the students were given the Skills Workbooks and recorded their experiences, learning and reflections in the workbooks.
What's next
Next year, Benchmark will be used at the start, middle and end of term to determine where students are on the framework. Students will then be assigned Launchpad work. We will start to work with English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students and build the programme into world skills. We will use Challenge Days as part of our transition programme and keep warm activities over the summer. Skills Builder will be written into policies and rewards. We would like to continue to support with the Profound and Multiple Learning Disability (PMLD) working group.
North East England
United Kingdom