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Our Lady's Catholic Primary School

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Our Lady's Catholic Primary School
We are a one-form entry Catholic Primary School in Birmingham. We have 49% pupil premium and we noticed that some of our pupils had low aspirations and struggled with academic education. Therefore, we wanted to provide something that would raise their self-esteem, provide opportunities for them to be successful and make progress as well as providing them with the skills they need to be successful in life in whatever they chose to do. Our journey started a number of years ago when we wanted to inject some fun and excitement back into our curriculum. Year 6 did their Challenge Day 'A Day in Politics' and we never looked back! A Day in Politics is always a landmark event for the school and the children and this is followed up by a trip to London and a visit to the Houses of Parliament - this year this has been developed further into a real 'tourist' day in London to fully experience our capital city. We quickly realised that this curriculum could provide the memorable experiences, 'wow' moments and real engagement for our children that they had previously been missing.
Overall impact
The development of our Missionary Disciple Day, Vocations Day and Careers day linking to Skills Builder has greatly enhanced our curriculum offer. Providing the children with opportunities to reflect on how adults, in various professions use, rely on and value these skills is priceless. Child have understood more the value of these and that they are not just for when they are at school but for life! Our work around linking these to our Gospel Values and our MAC children's charter is also key is providing children with the skill to link their learning to enable them to know and remember more. A key highlight of this year is how well this has been embraced by new staff- their commitment to developing their knowledge of the skills curriculum is commendable and has been wonderful to celebrate with them.
Keep it simple
Teachers have a skills CPD sessions and new teachers have this as part of their induction. We have 3 Skills Builder CPD sessions across the year to evaluate how the essential skills are progressing and to identify the next steps of our practice. To support skill development with parents, we have a skills page on our website that links to Homezone. In addition, we have a designated 'Skill of the Month' that goes out in our newsletter to direct them on Homezone. Each essential skill has its own 'marvellous me' badge that can be awarded by staff when they see that skill in action or being developed by the students. We also skill certificates every 3 weeks in our 'Gifts from God' assembly, and we also award staff who demonstrate their own skill progress. We are raising awareness of the skills within our local community through Inspire workshops, external visitors and our work experience pupils through different means. All school policies contain links to the skills and our school association reference and discuss the skills in their meetings. These meetings also include members of the local community.
Start early, keep going
All students, from EYFS to Year 6, are involved in skill-based learning appropriate to their age and developmental stage using Hub resources such as the Short Lessons. Skill sessions are regularly implemented across our two-week timetables so that each student has the chance to explicitly practise the skills before applying their knowledge to the curriculum. This is now being linked explicitly across the curriculum as well as being linked with our catholic virtues, UNICEF rights and MAC children's charter. A two-week block is set aside in the summer term for the whole school to work on their skill projects. This culminates in a celebration afternoon where parents, parishioners and the local community are invited and the students showcase their work. This is a highlight of the school calendar and is valued by the parents who have greatly missed the occasion as a result of the pandemic. Monitoring of skills include book looks, pupil voice and environment checks.
Measure it
We use the Skills Builder Hub to assess our students against the essential skills at the beginning and end of the school year. In between these times, as mentioned, skill-based learning and progress are monitored during pupil progress meetings where staff discuss each child regarding their expected progress in their skill development. This discussion, with the Hub assessment, then informs any next steps for the child to ensure progress is achieved. Skills are also assessed daily via the learning objective sheet that is a requirement for each student in every lesson. The students will identify which skills they have used during the lesson and how these have assisted their learning. Class displays also show the skill ladders and certain target areas for the class as a whole so that this can regularly be referred to across the curriculum. Skills based evidence is recorded in Class Big Books and these are monitored as part of the school monitoring cycle.
Focus tightly
Planning across the year groups and across the curriculum identifies focus skill-based links and learning for lessons. This enables our students to see how each of the essential skills is valued, necessary and useful in a wide range of situations. Departmental leaders monitor their subject areas and receive feedback on skill-based coverage. Essential skills are integrated within school-wide policies to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of how our skill curriculum links to all areas of school life. Our local governing body members regularly attend skill events such as A Day in Politics, as well as attending provisions such as our trip to London to bring that skill learning to life for our students. Our LO sheet used for every lesson encourages children to self reflect and assess the skills they are using across the curriculum so they can see and appreciate the value of these skills. Pupil progress meetings (3x annually) include a section on skill progress and development.
Keep practising
In line with our curriculum planning, our student voice results have indicated that the students thoroughly enjoy the essential skill activities they have participated within (Hub resources, Projects, Challenge Days), and want our SLT to ensure that even more opportunities are available to them going forward. Skill-based links are made within our wrap-around provision as well as being referenced and planned as part of our before and after school club provision/extra-curricular activities (Lego club, coding club and cooking club- to name a but a few). Skill sessions are timetabled twice weekly for each year group Reception-Year 6. Our termly curriculum maps identify the skills that will be taught and practised each term referring to specific steps. Key focus days for school also include specific skill references this includes careers day where members of the community visit school and reflect on the essential skills and the value and use of these in their profession.
Bring it to life
As a school, we engage in skills-based focus weeks. These are celebratory events where the students consolidate the skills they have learned and apply their knowledge to one of the projects as decided by our Young Governors (school council). Within this, they map their essential skill learning journey and evaluate their development. Students have had the opportunity to engage with the 'A Day in Politics' Challenge Day and subsequently visit the Houses of Parliament to fully bring this learning to life, and importantly, witness where democracy lives! Children have a choice of curriculum-linked projects to complete for homework and can choose how to present their work, therefore taking their learning beyond the classroom. We also hold an annual careers day where visitors are invited to share their profession and are specifically asked to share how the essential skills are used in their chosen career. The skills are also linked in our Live Simply action plan (CAFOD) to engage the community with the skills the students are learning.
What's next
We plan to continue to embed the skills curriculum throughout our academic curriculum. The planning has taken place for that this year and we intend to monitor the implementation of these and evaluate the impact. We should begin to hear the skills language and steps discussed more readily during lessons and not just as a reflective tool at the end of a lesson. We plan to continue our focus on engaging the local community and enabling their skill progression too.
West Midlands
United Kingdom