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June 2021

Essential skills: Teachers' perspectives on opportunities and barriers

This research piece was led by Emma Crighton, a member of our Education Team at Skills Builder. The paper channels the voices of teachers and their motivations around building essential skills for their learners. It also explores the barriers teacher face and how Skills Build can address some of these, as well as where wider policy change is needed. Speaking to teachers within and beyond the Skills Builder network, as well as seven leaders in the education sector, the insights gathered include:

  • Five key motivators for teachers when it comes to building essential skills for their learners: to prepare students for life, to support career development and employability, to unlock learning and opportunities for all, to support strategic priorities and to raise aspirations.
  • Time and a lack of training and consistent approach towards essentials skills prevent teachers from building essential skills universally. A further barrier stems from wider policy restrictions with regard to the value placed on essential skills. These restrictions include performance and attainment measures, the current knowledge-based curriculum and the reduced scope of collaboration between education institutions
  • Teachers and sector leaders suggest some possible solutions, including: increased teacher training, a redesign of the curriculum, a review of the accountability system and capitalising on the flexibility in the current system.
  • The Skills Builder partnership is seen to support schools and colleges to overcome challenges in seven key areas.
  • Whilst Skills Builder will continue to encourage teachers to tap into their motivations to teach essential skills, change is needed at a policy level to move towards a more supportive education system which places higher value on essential skills.
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February 2021

Better prepared: Essential skills and employment outcomes for young people

This report is built off a new research study conducted with YouGov including more than 3,000 young people aged 16-24 years-old. Individuals completed a self-assessment against the Skills Builder Universal Framework, as well as sharing other outcomes data. Insights generated include:

  • That higher levels of essential skills are correlated with higher social advantage and greater levels of parental engagement, and inversely correlated with attending an Alternative Provision setting or having a special educational need.
  • Overwhelmingly, young people see the value of essential skills across key aspects of their lives for transition, including academic performance (78%), university entrance (66%), successful recruitment (91%), progression in employment (91%), and overcoming wider life challenges (89%).
  • There are strong links between higher essential skill scores and self-efficacy and perseverance of effort.
  • There is evidence of a wage premium of around 15% or £3,400 per year for full-time workers aged over 19 moving from the 1st percentile of skills score up to the median. This wage premium is substantially increased in cases where young people report confidence in applying their essential skills in a range of scenarios. In this case, the wage premium for those individuals rises to £10,200.
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January 2021

Essential skills and their impact on education outcomes

This report is built off new analysis of the British Cohort Study, creating proxy measures for essential skill levels when individuals were aged 10- and 16-years-old in 1980 and 1986 respectively. The analysis sought to test five hypotheses, by linking together datasets around the British Cohort Study (1970). In doing so, we found that higher levels of self-reported essential skills levels are associated with:

  • Higher levels of literacy at primary school, as measured by the Edinburgh Reading Test
  • Higher levels of numeracy at primary school, as measured by the Friendly Math Test
  • Higher levels of mathematics qualifications at secondary school, as measured by O-Level and CSE results
  • Higher academic performance, as perceived by teachers
  • Higher levels of career aspiration
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October 2020

How do essential skills influence life outcomes? An evidence review

This report was written by the Centre for Education & Youth with the Skills Builder Partnership, and reviewed existing robust academic studies exploring the links between essential skills and wider life outcomes. The report highlighted evidence of three links:

  • That essential skills support academic outcomes, particularly through the focus on self-management skills of Aiming High and Staying Positive, as well as communication skills of Listening and Speaking.
  • That essential skills support positive employment outcomes, including higher wages.
  • That essential skills support social and emotional wellbeing, as well as preventing negative behaviours.

Where studies in this review explored the features of effective delivery, they indicated that essential skills interventions tend to be more effective when regular, long term, explicit, embedded, structured, supported and targeted.

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May 2020

Towards a Universal Framework for Essential Skills

This report brings together analysis of the Skills Builder Framework and how it could be extended to act as a universal framework – equally relevant to individuals at all stages of their education or careers. Developed as part of the Essential Skills Taskforce, the work reviewed the completeness and relevance of the existing Skills Builder approach through four comparative lenses:

  • International examples of employability frameworks
  • Job advertisement data
  • Apprenticeship standards
  • Universities’ graduate attribute statements

The framework was the tested through a series of roundtables with employers, educators, and other individuals to ensure that it was not only rigorous but usable. The final result was the Skills Builder Universal Framework.

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October 2017

The Missing Piece: The Essential Skills that Education Forgot

This book was written by Skills Builder’s founder, Tom Ravenscroft, reflecting on the lessons learned over the organisation’s first eight years. Drawing on experience and the broad literature around education and skills development, the book explores:

  • The gap between the apparent need for essential skills and how they are built in the education system.
  • The myths and misconceptions about skill development that hold us back.
  • Which skills are truly essential and how they can be defined and broken down.
  • The principles for building skills in different settings.
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September 2017

Enterprise Skills: Teachability, Measurability, and Next Steps

This report, written by LKMco (now the Centre for Education & Youth), reviewed the evidence around enterprise education and the best-practice principles developed by Enabling Enterprise (now Skills Builder Partnership). This evidence review was complemented by a roundtable in January 2017, and five case studies of primary and secondary schools using the approach around the country.

The report highlighted that:

  • Evidence suggested that specific skills could have a positive impact on the development of young people, and schools felt that there were positive effects on academic performance.
  • Skill development can be measured and tracked, and schools were using the Skills Builder Framework as a useful tool in this regard.
  • There are differences in essential skills by socio-economic background and if unaddressed these gaps could persist throughout education.

The report highlighted priorities to:

  • Build consensus around the language of essential skills, bringing greater coherence to work taking place across the education sector.
  • Promote ways of assessing essential skills that provides useful feedback for pupils and their teachers, helping young people’s ability and confidence in these skills grow.
  • Develop a rigorous evidence base exploring how these skills vary by children and young people’s backgrounds, and what works in closing any gaps that appear.
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November 2020

Impact Report 2020

It has certainly not been the year that we originally planned for across the Partnership, but the pandemic has demonstrated our collective determination and resilience.

One of the biggest shifts for us this year has been the launch of the Skills Builder Universal Framework - a collaborative effort over 18 months, developed with the CBI, CIPD, Gatsby Foundation, Business in the Community, Careers & Enterprise Company and the EY Foundation. This has helped to better join up all of our efforts and provide a complete journey for any individual to master their essential skills.

We have seen continued strong growth in impact across all three strands of the Partnership:

  • We supported 437 schools and colleges to embed the best practice principles for building essential skills that we have honed over the last decade. This included training more than 9,000 teachers, and reaching 176,000 students.
  • We saw a growing number of our 92 employer partners using the Framework in their outreach work, their recruitment processes, and how they train and develop their apprentices and wider staff teams.
  • We also partnered with 105 impact organisations. The organisations in the Partnership gave 115,203 more individuals the chance to identify, review, and practice essential skills.
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November 2019

Impact Report 2019

This year, we celebrated 10 years since we got started as Enabling Enterprise back in 2009. Over that time, our work has constantly evolved, to where we are today as the Skills Builder Partnership. We made the shift because working together and combining our efforts is by far the best way to ensure that one day, everyone builds the essential skills to succeed.

Across the three strands of the Skills Builder Partnership, the headlines are:

  • We directly trained and supported 514 schools and colleges last year - that’s more than 130,000 children and young people empowered to build essential skills through our programmes.
  • Employer partners have always been a critical part of our work, hosting trips, supporting programme design and funding our work. This last year, 121 supported us in this way. We’re excited that a growing number are expanding their work, building the Skills Builder approach into how they recruit, train and support their own staff.
  • We worked with 59 impact organisations including the Careers & Enterprise Company, the National Literacy Trust, and the British Council. Together, we’re using the shared language and outcomes of the Skills Builder approach.
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Impact Report 2018

This 2018 Impact Report captures a transformational year for Enabling Enterprise. In our ninth year, we have worked with more students than ever before – with 95,938 students completing one of our programmes this year. It’s great to see that even as our work continues to grow, we have been able to maintain the impact of our programmes at scale.

This year has seen a big shift in broadening our work beyond our existing partnership of 335 schools and 130 employer partners. In October 2017, The Missing Piece: The Essential Skills that Education Forgot was published by John Catt Publishing, drawing together the evidence base and what we’d learnt in ensuring that every child and young person builds the essential skills to thrive.

Then, in May 2018, we launched the Skills Builder Framework and the Partnership behind it. The Framework is the culmination of more than four years work and takes the eight essential skills and turns breaks them down into teachable, measurable chunks. The process of refinement benefited from the expertise of more than sixty individuals and piloting in twenty organisations. As we enter our tenth year, the organisation goes from strength to strength: we are seeing a surge of interest and excitement from schools across the country in building the essential skills of their students, and the Partnership is growing by the day.

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November 2017

Impact Report 2017

It’s a huge pleasure to be able to share our Impact Report for 2017. The last year has seen our partnership take a meaningful step forward towards achieving our mission.

Our programmes have continued to grow quickly, with over 87,000 students across the country taking part in an Enabling Enterprise programme in the last year. That is almost double the number just two years ago.

This year we passed a milestone, with over 250,000 student programmes now completed over the seven years of Enabling Enterprise.

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UPCOMING webinars
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Previous webinars
29th June 2021

Essential skills: Teachers' perspectives on opportunities and barriers - Launch


During our final education webinar of the academic year, we launched our latest piece of research – Essential skills: Teachers’ perspectives on opportunities and barriers. This research channels the voice of teachers and their motivations around building essential skills for their learners. It also explores the barriers teacher face and how Skills Build can address some of these, as well as where wider policy change is needed. Emma Crighton from our Education team and the author of the paper shared the key findings of the report during the session before Tom Ravenscroft, our CEO, facilitated a fireside chat with a panel of guest speakers:

  • Olly Newton – Executive Director at the Edge Foundation
  • Nicola Hall – Director of Education at the Careers and Enterprise Company
  • Geraldine Tiddy – Head of Sixth Form at Wilmington Grammar School for Girls
  • Stuart Fryd – Deputy Headteacher at Mossford Green Primary School

Watch the recording of the webinar to hear the insight we gathered from the research and the reflections from our fantastic panel who joined us for the event.

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June 2021

Building essential skills outside the classroom


In June, our education webinar focused on how Skills Builder schools and colleges are embedding essential skills beyond the classroom through their work with parents and carers and Skills Builder platforms such as the Home Learning Hub and Skills Builder Benchmark. We heard from two members of the Skills Builder team who talked us through how these platforms were designed and how they can support teachers, individuals and parents and carers. This was contextualised by Zoe Armitage at Stanborough School and Colin Galley at New College Durham who shared how they develop essential skills beyond the classroom and the impact this has had for their pupils.

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15th March 2021

Creating Sustainable Change


In March, schools and colleges on a Skills Builder programme were invited to attend our third Education Webinar: Creating Sustainable Change.

The webinar began with an introduction from Skills Builder’s Emma Crighton who talked about how we recognise good practice in our schools and colleges through the Skills Builder Award. Emma outlines how the award was developed and how it is supporting our schools and colleges to embed long-term, sustainable essential skill development. You can download the award guide mentioned in the webinar at skillsbuilder.org/awardguide

During the webinar, we talked to four of our schools and colleges about where they were in their Skills Builder journey, how they used the programme in their setting and their plans for 2021-22. Watch the recording of the webinar to hear from our Skills Leaders, find out more about the award process and discover some new ideas and top tips for how to develop a long-term essential skills programme in your setting.

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28th January 2021

Inclusion and Essential Skills


On January 28th we ran our second Skills Builder Education Webinar for teachers and leaders signed up to a Skills Builder programme. This webinar explored how to teach the essential skills to learners with additional needs both in mainstream and specialist settings.

During the 45 minute webinar we heard from three fantastic speakers from schools and colleges who were embedding the Skills Builder approach for learners with additional needs. We also heard from the National Literacy Trust whose resources give all pupils the opportunity to apply the essential skills. This was followed by a Q&A and an update from Tom Varley, our SEND lead at Skills Builder who talked about some key resources and next steps.

If you work with learners with additional needs, are interested in developing an inclusive approach to skills teaching or are just interested in hearing some fantastic success stories from across the partnership, this webinar is for you.

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9th June 2020

A Spotlight on Staying Positive


On 9th June our Director of Development Rosa Morgan-Baker hosted our first webinar based around the Skills Builder Framework, with a spotlight on Staying Positive. This essential skill is needed across contexts - all through education and on into employment and beyond. Watch the whole webinar, featuring an interview with our Founder & CEO Tom Ravenscroft.

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Keep up with all the latest from Skills Builder.

May 2021: Discover the new Impact Directory

April 2021: Introducing Skills Builder Launchpad!

March 2021: Applications for the Skills Builder Accelerator are open!

February 2021: Join us for a great event - plus, join our fantastic team

January 2021: An Invitation and exciting new research launching today

June 2020: Webinars, virtual visits and awards

Celebrating a decade building the essential skills for success

What's been going on in October 2019

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