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.
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.
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.
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.