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Newark Hill Academy

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Newark Hill Academy
Newark Hill Academy is a 2-form entry school, with 30 pupils in each class. We are located very close to Peterborough City Centre and have a high proportion of children who are disadvantaged. At Newark Hill Academy, everything that we do is centered on the whole child. We ensure our children are delivered a broad and balanced curriculum, and we recognise the importance of providing our pupils with all of the skills they need to lead successful lives now and in the future. We began our Skills Builder Journey in 2020. We were keen to get involved with the programme because we wanted to equip our children with the skills and knowledge they need to achieve their goals in life, throughout their school journeys as well as when they enter their working lives. We felt that the Skills Builder Programme would integrate well into our existing curriculum and support our staff with ways in which to embed the essential skills into all aspects of pupils' learning, across the whole school.
Overall impact
The Skills Builder Programme has had a highly positive impact on both pupils and staff. The programme is simple and easy to implement and the resources provided on the hub have been a great support in delivering effective and engaging lessons. Children across the school are able to articulate what each skill means and they demonstrate awareness of how they can make progress within each of the skills. Pupils have particularly enjoyed participating in the challenge day. Speaking from the perspective of Skills Builder Lead, the planning sessions and strategy review meetings have really helped me to focus us on what we want to achieve as a school, and provided me with a clear plan of action. Overall, Skills Builder has enabled us to equip our pupils with the skills that will benefit them in their everyday lives and working careers.
Keep it simple
The 8 essential skills are embedded within teaching and learning policies and our curriculum plans across the school. Our long-term and medium-term planning indicates which skills are being focused on for each half term. All classrooms, from Reception through to Year 6, have the essential skills on display so that they can always be referred to. The language of the essential skills is used by all staff members, across all areas of learning. Assemblies, staff meetings, parent meetings and newsletters regularly reference these skills. The skills used in lessons are included on the learning objectives which provides the children with a visual reminder of the skills they are using. Our dojo-points reward system is linked to the 8 essential skills so that children are rewarded points when they are demonstrating good use of a particular skill. We have a Skills Builder display in one of our main corridors which shows work from across the school, linking to the essential skills.
Start early, keep going
Our essential skill teaching includes all children, from Foundation Stage right through to Year 6. All staff have access to the resources on the 'Skills Builder Hub' and they use these frequently to support their teaching. All year groups and classes have regular and planned opportunities for the learning and practising of essential skills.
Measure it
This year, we have worked hard to improve our assessment of skills across the school. At the start of the Autumn term, all teachers were allocated time during a staff meeting, to complete their baseline data input. Following this, we observed that although positive assessment habits were being formed by some teachers, there was still a need for further consistency. Because of this, we took the decision to track the assessment, via the hub reports, on a 2-weekly basis. Teachers were also given a quick refresher session on assessment. This helped to ensure that everybody felt confident in assessing effectively using the Skills Builder Hub. As a result of this, along with frequent monitoring and follow ups, we now have an increased number of teachers assessing their children on a half termly basis. This is still something which is being tracked closely. Moving forward, it is our intention to provide teachers with frequent slots of time, in which they complete their assessments.
Focus tightly
Regular opportunities to develop essential skills are given to all pupils, by skills being embedded across all areas of learning and through everyday classroom language. The essential skills are mapped to the themes and topics of each lesson. Across the school, planning demonstrates that all teachers dedicate time to the teaching of skills, pitching teaching at an appropriate level. Teachers use a range of resources on the Hub, lessons, videos and other resources. The skills are also enhanced within extra-curricular provision, with different after school clubs focusing in on a different skill area.
Keep practising
We have embedded the essential skills into all aspects of our curriculum. Staff give children the opportunity to practise their skills by incorporating the skills and language across all lessons. This is done in a range of ways, for example; using the skills displays in each classroom and displaying the skills symbols on learning objectives. Children are encouraged to show the skills in all that they do - classroom-based lessons, PE and sports, and extra-curricular activities. This year, we have specifically focussed on ensuring that our after-school clubs provide opportunities for our pupils to practise essential skills. Homework set across the school aligns with one skills at a time and children and parents are encouraged to engage with the Homezone. We have provided parents with information about ways in which they can promote these skills with their children at home. This was outlined during our Skills Builder workshop for parents, hosted this academic year.
Bring it to life
As a school, we provide the opportunity for all our pupils to experience the application of essential skills. We host several careers days and events throughout the year. During these events, we always ensure that discussions and activities have explicit links to how the essential skills contribute to daily life.
What's next
We have already enrolled onto the Skills Builder Programme for next academic year. We will continue to use the essential skills across our everyday learning, embedding it deeper into everyday school life and beyond. One area in particular that we intend to develop further is Principle 3, 'Measure It'. By providing all staff with short periods of directed time, within staff meetings, on a more frequent basis, we will be able to ensure that all assessment is kept consistent and is completed at the same regular intervals. It will also mean that staff members will have the opportunity to discuss their assessments with other individuals and should they have any queries, these are resolved effectively within this time. We are very much looking forward to continuing our Skills Builder journey and teaching our children the essential skills needed for their everyday lives, both now and in the future.
East of England
United Kingdom