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The White Wings School

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The White Wings School
The White Wings School is a Nursery, Primary and Secondary school based in Lagos, Nigeria. Currently, the school works with learners aged 4 to 12 years old. The White Wings School is a friendly and welcoming school. We develop a total child, focusing on teaching, nurturing and caring. We use the Montessori base approach, British and Nigerian Curriculum, and have a focus on 21st century essential skills. As part of our school mission, we focus on developing essential skills with our students at all times. Before working with Skills Builder, we would focus on essential skills during assemblies, classroom activities, sports and in the school environment.
Overall impact
This year as a school, we have focused on teaching Leadership, Teamwork, Listening and Speaking. Having a clear focus on teaching these skills has immensely impacted our pupils and students. For example in Listening, pupils and students were able to grasp the concept, and we recorded less distractions during lesson time from pupils. Students understood why they should stop all forms of distractions, focus on the speaker or teacher and process in their mind what is being said. In speaking, we have been able to improve the pupils and students’ presentations using the approach in building confidence, speaking clearly to groups of people they know and don’t know, maintaining eye contact and using gesture and tone to hold attention while presenting a speech. In Teamwork, learners are now able to work in different groups and improve their time management for every given team task.
Keep it simple
We had a clear plan for how we would introduce and present each focus skill. In the White Wings School, every term has a chosen theme. This year, we have adopted the essential skills as our theme for every term, for example ’Teamwork’. This focus is used every morning in assembly, to get all learners actively engaged with the skill, while more emphasis is made in the classroom with the classroom educator. The skill names are written up in each classroom. We also created a clear structure for teachers to introduce the concepts to their students. First, we introduce each skill by discovering the area of need through reflective questioning or written assessment. Then we can identify what the students know about the skill. Then we use the Skills Builder Handbook for Educators to identify the relevant step and recite the common language of each essential skill. This ensures that all teachers are speaking the same language of the skills. It also helps our teachers to target verbal praise for good work in the skills. Educators have also gained improvement in organising their lessons by keeping it simple and making skills lessons more interactive and focused in their classrooms.
Start early, keep going
Understanding the importance of essential skills, we decided to pilot the programme with all learners of age 4-12. We have differentiated the learning for the different ages. Learners between the ages of 4-5 are grouped together with a team of educators and they learn the skill with the aid of pictures, whilst learners aged 6-12 are taught the skill using short lessons.
Measure it
We measure the skill taught by written test and examination, verbal presentation both at individual and group level. The Handbook for Educators gives our teachers guidance on the assessment criteria for each step of the focus skill.
Focus tightly
In order to have effectiveness in helping learners assimilate the skills, we decided to teach two skills per term. We differentiated each skill with activities particular to the specific step and from the Skills Builder Handbook for Educators. For instance in Listening, we used the step 1 activity from the Handbook where learners are given a set of instructions to fold a piece of paper, draw a particular picture on one side and write something inside the picture. Our educators could then focus on building specific needs in step 1 of Listening.
Keep practising
As a way of reinforcing the skills we ensure we practise them in other related subjects. After every lesson, teachers also ask pupils to make presentations in order to access the skill of Speaking. To also ensure pupils keep practising these skills, educators are made to ensure that learners are applying the skills already learnt. We have started creating plans for structuring this further next year.
Bring it to life
Understanding that these essential skills are needed in our everyday life, we ensure that we make them part of our daily activities both in and outside the school environment for educators and learners. We have engaged the skills across lots of different community projects this year and have started to engage parents with them too.
What's next
The school has adopted the Skills Builder Framework as part of the school curriculum. It forms part of the basis of our assembly talk. Every Tuesday 8:30 – 9:30 has been allotted for a Skills Builder session. We plan to build on this again next year. We are planning on using the common language of each skill as part of the enforcing learning environment in all of our classrooms.