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Oakdene Primary School

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Oakdene Primary School
Oakdene Primary School converted as an Academy on 1st April 2022 and joined the Enquire Learning Trust. There are currently 295 children who attend the academy located in Billingham. We serve an area with high levels of deprivation and many parents and carers do not access training nor work. Pupil Premium is double the national average and pupils with SEND is also significantly above the national average. However, children make outstanding progress. Our motto 'Learning for Life' is embraced by the whole school community. Our aim is to provide a world class curriculum that inspires and challenges all learners and prepares them for the future. Through our exciting curriculum opportunities, we aim to develop the whole child, whatever their strength or area of interest. It is therefore important to note that the current work on curriculum development for careers is starting from a position of strength. As a result of this focused work key developments have emerged. Blending changes into the existing quality curriculum, judged by Ofsted in 2013 to be both 'exceptional' and 'first class', has resulted in some exciting and creative developments. For example, each subject leader has created 'Key People' assigned to each year group e.g. - Key scientists, musicians/composers, and designers etc to raise aspirations, actively promote respect for difference, diversity and tolerance, develop knowledge and understanding of the world and build cultural capital. This is adding extra value to what is already an exciting and mature curriculum offer. The careers curriculum is designed to build the children's knowledge and understanding using underlying skills to weave a golden thread throughout the curriculum. We joined Skills Builder to provide additionality to our Personal development offer and to introduce a consistent language for skills across school, with the support and resources available to support us on our journey.
Overall impact
The introduction of the Skills Builder programme has further strengthened our current provision. It has provided the children with the skills, language and experiences to broaden their horizons and further raise their aspirations. The explicit lessons have provided teachers with a basis to begin the discussions and learning around each skill, which have then been extended to lessons across all curriculum areas and provides a golden thread of skills throughout different subjects. Teachers now have a consistent vocabulary which enables them to provide opportunities for pupils to share, discuss and practise the essential skills across the curriculum. Parents have shared that their children enjoy learning about the skills and have enjoyed completing the challenges from the newsletter at home. Employers at events have commented how well the children related the skills to their work at careers events such as SPARK education.
Keep it simple
The 8 skills are displayed in every classroom from Nursery to Year 6, with the current skill being taught displayed on the whiteboard. The 'Careers Display Board' is deliberately positioned in the main entrance hall and showcases events that we have been involved in and our approach to skills learning in careers. We introduce each new skill with a whole school assembly using resources on the Hub. We focus on one or two skills across a half term and teach the lessons from the Hub, then across the curriculum. Children's engagement is high as they are rewarded at the end of each skill by receiving 'Star of the week' when they show the skill throughout their learning, this is shared with parents and carers in our weekly newsletter and certificates. Class Dojo points are used within lessons to identify and recognise when children have shown the skills within lessons. Teachers also share with parents through commenting on their careers-related learning of skills in their report.
Start early, keep going
All pupils from Reception to Year 6 are immersed in the 8 essential skills, with the whole school focusing on the same skill at the same time. The 8 essential skills are taught explicitly through the Hub lessons and woven throughout cross-curricular subjects. Skills Builder stories are used through Early Years and Key Stage 1 to support our youngest learners to understand the concepts that underpin the essential skills. Furthermore, the skills are frequently built into outdoor learning opportunities and play by providing activities that promote the essential skills such as creativity and teamwork. The skills are essential to the children's learning in school as well as in their future lives and have been embedded into our termly plans and our sustained school development plan. Parents and carers have been involved by sharing home learning challenges on the weekly newsletter. In addition, Class Dojo points are used as an incentive for children to complete them at home with their parents.
Measure it
Teachers reflect on the skills of individuals through observations made in the explicit lessons and during cross curricular lessons. We decided as a school to focus on the stage relevant to the year group e.g. Step 1 is Year 1 and so on to allow for the progression of skills throughout the school. This allows the children to build on the skills each year and develop their learning and understanding using the skills builder framework to measure progress. Teachers assess children at the beginning of the topic against their step and then assess the children again at the end of the term. This gives teachers an understanding of the children's strengths and weaknesses, highlights progress and shows next steps where further opportunities to practise the essential skills may be needed. Children who are identified as needing further support access the inclusive resource pack. Furthermore, children who show confidence in a skill are challenged to 'coach' others.
Focus tightly
From Nursery to Year 6 we have dedicated time to explicitly build skills within our timetable and recognise the importance this has for our children. We have planned for the essential skills to build upon a pupil's previous learning and skill attainment by progressing through the steps as they progress through school. The skills are explicitly taught across the year, with one or two skills covered each half term. The skills are launched through a whole school assembly, then explicit lessons are covered across one or two weeks. The skills are then covered throughout the year and referred to across the curriculum. Explicit activities are planned for across the curriculum such as through Forest School, Science etc. and the skills are referred to and practised and applied in these lessons which is evident in our medium-term planning. Teachers have used their training from Skills Builder to explicitly plan for skills to be used across the curriculum.
Keep practising
From Year 1 to Year 6, the children took part in an Eco Explorer day and had to work as a team to design, create and present an idea to make our local area more Eco-friendly. Teachers made explicit links to the skills throughout the day and gave Class Dojo points to children who demonstrated mastery of the skills. The children used the Skills record to identify where they had used the skills throughout the day. We have worked with Middlesbrough FC Foundation and taken part in their careers programme in Year 5 and 6. Other events have included careers week, work with SPARK education on their local industry enterprise day and work with RTC Mentoring to connect STEM ambassadors with local employers. In addition, we have used Key People across the curriculum and made explicit links to careers and the skills needed for different careers.
Bring it to life
Through our ambitious Careers curriculum, we ensure that the children see the relevance of the skills by linking them with the real world and by bringing real-life problems and challenges to practise the skills. We are a trailblazer school for the Tees Valley Careers pilot programme and have further enhanced our careers curriculum by providing experiences from visitors and trips to give the children a real world understanding of careers. We believe that our role as teachers is to increase the cultural capital of the children, providing the foundations for a range of valuable careers, while developing the whole child and raising the aspirations, goals and achievements of our children. This year alone we have provided children with a diverse range of opportunities to practise and apply their skills and made links with local employers. For example, Year 5 pupils took part in a Q&A session organised by Skills Builder with a local company and learnt about careers within the organisation.
What's next
At Oakdene we never stand still. We constantly review and identify how we can further improve. We have an established careers curriculum and have successfully integrated the Skills Builder approach to skills teaching from Nursery to Year 6 this academic year. In September, we have identified four extremely skilled mentors to support new teachers to ensure that we maintain, sustain and build on this success. Next year we will continue to strengthen our Careers curriculum, continuing our use of Skills Builder to explicitly teach the skills. Teacher toolkits have been devised so that everything is include within our high quality planning frameworks. As we continue to reintroduce our full enrichment and after-school provision, we plan to integrate our careers learning into clubs and areas such Pupil voice, for example, school councilors. We need to continue to strengthen our assessment of the skills using the Hub to ensure we consistently assess the skills before and after learning.
North East England
United Kingdom