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West Lancashire Community High School

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West Lancashire Community High School
West Lancashire Community High School is a special needs school for students aged 11-19 with generic learning difficulties. We are committed to ensuring that as a school we provide the highest quality education that helps prepare each individual student for the next stage in their lives. As a school we have introduced the Skills Builder Programme to help encourage our students to build essential skills for the future. The Skills Builder Programme is seen as a platform to help raise the profile of these eight essential skills and provide a way of weaving these skilled areas within our current curriculum across all the key stages. The Skills Builder Programme allows all staff to bring these skills to life for the students. It allows students to be aware of the essential skills and use this to help work towards their aspiration and goals as well developing as individuals in preparation for adulthood. The Skills Builder Programme has also further supported the work between home and school. Learning beyond the classroom is an opportunity for students to further develop the eight essential skills in a variety of context including Homezone which helps families support the work that is taking place in school. Getting involved with Skills Builder Accelerator has provided an opportunity to share ideas, develop and embed the programme within school as well as providing staff the opportunity to gain further knowledge and understanding through bespoke training, relevant to our school. The one to one strategy meetings have provided invaluable support to ensure that as a leader of Skills Builder and its implementation, the momentum has continued and ideas that have originally been placed on paper have been brought to life through the knowledge and support of the Education Associate.
Overall impact
The Accelerator Programme has offered support and guidance in ensuring that the programme is embedded within the school curriculum. The programme has supported the development of skills builder in complimenting a curriculum that already exists. The programme has enabled subject leads and teachers to use its six principles to ensure that students are more attuned to themselves as individuals, recognising their strengths and recognising for some, how they can improve. The accelerator programme has enabled teachers to be more confident in how they use the resources to plan for and assess students progress. Students are much more aware of their individual skills and will identify and reflect on the skills they have developed and what they need to do to improve. Within the wider community, businesses have been very supportive and this was identified during national careers week when postcards were shared explaining the activities some of the students would be taking part in to build essential skills. The local business community was very supportive of this and welcomed students to explore their business and ask questions.
Keep it simple
School staff have fully embraced Skills Builder. Skills Builder logos and displays feature across school and planning reflects the skills and skill steps. Across the Key Stages students are taught the eight essential skills. For some this is part of discrete lessons, for others this is incorporated through the skill areas being weaved into curriculum planning and an element of focus being given to the development of skills. Across school there is a consistent use of language by staff, students and stakeholders. School has engaged with businesses within the local community to ensure that language is consistent. Parent workshops and communication with parents has also supported the consistent use of language in the home too when referring to the essential skills. When celebrating student success and the value of skills, this is done through praise, assemblies and certification.
Start early, keep going
Students are baselined against the eight essential skills. This is completed every term and progress identified every half term against each step. This is completed to help inform future planning and learning. Each term has a skill focus outlined as part of a long term overview for the academic year. In Key Stage 3 students build skills through discrete lessons and opportunities to learn outside the classroom as part of educational visits. The awareness of skills and the building of skills is used within opportunities of work experience and work placements opportunities for Key Stages 4 and 5. Key Stage 5 students access the Skills Builder Benchmark to help support transition, employability, next steps and transition in adulthood. Local businesses involved with school are introduced to the Skills Builder language to help support students with the consistent use of language. Families have the opportunity to support through access to the Homezone.
Measure it
The whole school uses Skills Builder Hub and at Key Stage 5 this extends to include Skills Builder Benchmark to understand the essential skills of the students. All staff have access to the Hub to select appropriate resources to help develop students skill progression. Access to the groups for all staff allows them to see how students are progressing across school in a variety of learning opportunities. The use of Evidence for Learning also helps to capture skill progression and for this to be shared at home with families. This further supports learning and progression in skill areas beyond the classroom with parents having access to Homezone. As a school, weekly assemblies take place which help introduce and share the essential skills, further embedding the consistent use of language. Assemblies also offer an opportunity to celebrate achievements. The Skills Builder Hub is accessed frequently to ensure that students are working towards their next step.
Focus tightly
Students are provided weekly opportunities through discrete lessons and essential skills being woven into the curriculum across all key stages and across all subjects. This is outlined in medium term planning and shared with teaching staff to ensure that it is incorporated into daily planning. Students take part in learning beyond the classroom through topic weeks. These have included National Careers Week, Key Stage 4 work experience, Key Stage 5 work placements, including learning outside the classroom opportunities linked to Duke of Edinburgh. All students have access to the community and visit regularly to help develop life skills and build their essential skills. Students in Key Stage 4 can take part in residentials, progressing to the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver award at Key Stage 5. Teachers plan for the building of steps and this is shared as part of teaching and learning. Planning references the steps and skills are tagged through Evidence for Learning.
Keep practising
Students are given the opportunities to practice essential skills on a daily basis. Students are given regular opportunities to learn and develop their essential skills both inside and outside the classroom. Students have taken part in National Careers Week and Christmas Markets as key themes in helping to build essential skills. Extra- curricular opportunities to help build essential skills form part of the yearly residentials and Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions. All subject leads plan for the essential skills within their planning and regular updates enable the momentum to be maintained in ensuring that students are planned for in accordance to their current skills step. Further opportunities are provided at home with access to the Home Zone. This is further supported by the school website with a Skills Builder section and direct links to the Home Zone page. Workshops for parents have also encouraged a wider awareness of Skills Builder and the building of essential skills.
Bring it to life
West Lancashire Community High School prides itself on preparing students for adulthood and skills needed in wider life. This is done through educational visits, work experience opportunities, work placement opportunities, school games, community projects, careers week and business engagement, Christmas enterprise, horticulture, gym and swim programme, residentials, Duke of Edinburgh Programme and Governor involvement. All these planned events, opportunities and experiences, help provide valuable opportunities for students to further develop their essential skills as they progress through school and into adulthood. Work related learning programmes allow for business engagement and for a wider understanding of the essential skills. This allows the essential skills to be brought to life, giving students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom into their local and wider community.
What's next
To share best practice and to continue to embed the work that we do as a school. To involve parents more in the sharing of skill development in the home through Evidence for Learning and for more businesses to get involved to help build essential skills for the future in support of employment. To further build on successes would be to work closely with the social care community to ensure that students continue to develop their essential skills after they have left education. Enabling students to have the skills to lead independent lives with the support of those around them.
North West England
United Kingdom