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The Skills Builder Universal Framework provides the national standard for teaching essential skills. It breaks each skill into steps, supporting progress for students of all ages and abilities - including those with special educational needs.
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Bothal and Central have been working with us since 2020 to further their commitment to an integrated, long-term approach to essential skills education. Skills teaching is the golden thread which runs through all aspects of school life. The curriculum has been designed with skills at the heart. It is supported by a rigorous pastoral and home support system which ensures all young people are able to develop their essential skills.
Bothal and Central Primary Schools are demonstrating the value of a truly integrated and embedded approach where all curriculum planning and teaching incorporates the eight essential skills. On top of this, weekly assemblies refer to the eight essential skills too.
There is a joined-up approach to skill development across school life and home life. Progress against the Framework is reported to parents and carers as part of parents evening and the school reporting policies. Parents and carers use Google Classroom to comment on their child’s skill progress and work on joint skills projects with their children at home.
The school team identified that essential skills were critical to unlocking learning for some SEND students. In particular there were barriers around understanding the feeling behind texts covered in literacy. The pastoral department work with subject leaders to ensure that personalised planning and skills based interventions enable students to access core knowledge.
Linden Primary School has been working with Skills Builder since 2018. The whole school focuses on a different skill each half-term and throughout the year. These skills unlock learning at school and ensure children are fully prepared for the independence needed later in their education.
The school focuses on one skill each half-term throughout the year. The language of the skill steps is used by staff and students across the school, with posters and displays highlighting the focus skill in all classrooms.
The Skills Builder approach is used to support all learners to build the eight essential skills, from Early Years through to Year 6. The steps in the Skills Builder Universal Framework allow teachers to target their intervention on the aspects of the skills that are most relevant to different groups.
At Linden Primary School, students have the opportunity to apply and build their skills by taking part in special projects, challenge days and virtual trips. Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 recently took part in the ‘Crime Scene Challenge’, which really put their Problem Solving skills to the test as they worked in teams to solve who stole Mrs Gelsthorpe and Mrs Wellington’s chocolate!
Mablethorpe Primary School is part of the Greenwood Academies Trust. They have only started to work with Skills Builder in 2020 but have already made huge leaps towards embedding essential skills, thanks to their dedicated and proactive Skills Leader.
There is an appointed skills champion for each key stage who leads on the explicit teaching of three focus skills based on the needs of the learners. Champions have integrated the essential skills into schemes of work for each year group by including linking the essential skills to each subject area through questioning.
Classrooms display the essential skills icons to support teachers’ and students’ language and vocabulary. Skills champions reward learners who demonstrate their essential skills with the certificates from the Hub.
The Skills Leader has linked the eight essential skills into existing school projects to provide opportunities for students to apply their skills. This supports teachers and students to recognise the transferability of the skills from their classroom subjects to project-based learning activities.
Menston Primary School started working with us in September 2020. Despite the inherent challenges of this academic year, the Skills Leader and the rest of the teachers have made an exceptional start to their programme, laying the foundations for excellent practice in essential skills education.
Listening was the whole-school focus for the first term on the Accelerator. As well as being taught in the classroom, this skill has been integrated into STEM and outdoor learning activities. The school is using Skills Builder resources to extend what students are being taught beyond the National Curriculum.
Teaching staff and support staff have worked hard with the children to create exciting and interesting displays in each classroom and in the shared areas. They’ve used these displays to raise the profile of the term’s focus skill, which has really motivated the children to think about their Listening skills across school life.
Menston Primary are keen to communicate the focus on skill development with parents and others at home. The school website now includes a Skills Builder section, explaining the importance and meaning of essential skills, and the skill focus for each term. This way, parents and teachers are using a shared language to support skill development at home and in school.
Pelham Primary School is focussed on preparing each pupil for full participation in the global community. Working with the partnership since 2014, they are committed to embedding essential skills education, and are using the skills across almost all aspects of school life.
Pelham Primary knew that they wanted the skills to be at the heart of everything they do. Making use of displays in both classrooms and communal areas, they built skills language into assemblies, lessons and reward systems. They also use Trips and Challenge Days as a way to bring the skills to life for both teachers and students.
When faced with the limitations of 2020-21, Pelham Primary knew that the Projects would be the key to keep providing meaningful, relevant, real-life experiences to their pupils. Using ‘Going Green’, pupils researched and created a campaign to encourage others to be more eco-friendly, ending in a virtual tour of a local recycling bank.
Pelham Primary employed a range of strategies to engage the wider community with essential skills. In the newsletter, parents & carers were provided with a list of the Projects running in the school, and asked for those with relevant experience to get involved. This database of local links will now serve to build strong community relationships, all whilst developing essential skills.
Shaftesbury Park Primary School focus on the development of ‘enterprise’ throughout their school and believe that the essential skills are key to developing learners’ understanding of working within a community; and that these skills allows them to be ready for the ever-changing world of business.
In working towards the Gold Award, teachers are focusing to clearly identify gaps in pupils’ skills and carefully support their progress. The ambition is for learners to be able to articulate in non-class based situations how they are addressing an issue: discussing what skills they are using, how they are using them and what they could do to improve.
Learners take part in essential skills activities across both streams and all phases of the school, taking part in termly projects and an annual Challenge Day to build the skills they need. In preparation for moving on to secondary school, learners log and reflect on their use of the skills, to prepare for life in a new school.
Learners took part in virtual trips with Lloyds and UBS. In the morning they learnt about the employer and had a virtual tour. In the afternoon, students met with the employees via Zoom, presenting their creative solutions to the problems that UBS and Lloyds had posed and then took part in a question and answer session.
St Francis Catholic Primary School have been working with Skills Builder since 2017. Over the past few years, they have maximised the impact of the staff training and in-school resources by providing opportunities for students to work with real employers and volunteers from business partners.
The challenges of 2020-21 didn’t stop St Francis providing meaningful employer interactions for students. Multiple classes took part in virtual trips where they learnt about a company, went on a virtual tour and were posed a challenge. Then, the classes had the chance to meet some employees over video call and present their creative solutions to the challenge.
The teacher training sessions have been used really effectively by using this protected time for teachers to explore strategies for embedding essential skills into topic lessons and planning. Now, all curriculum plans and mid-term plans include clear references to the essential skills they support students to learn.
Students at St Francis have been exposed to a consistent approach to building skills for a number of years now. In lessons, around the school and during extra-curricular activities, the same set of eight skills are referenced an explored. Students at St Francis can see the importance of these skills across all aspects of school life.
St Mary’s Church of England Primary School have worked with us since 2015. They have a deeply integrated, long-term approach to essential skills education. Five years later, skills are well embedded into all aspects of school life.
All curriculum plans include clear reference to the essential skills that are covered or applied. Planning forms have been developed and refined to support teaching staff to do this regularly. Each literacy and numeracy lesson has a hook which is linked to the essential skills.
All year groups complete a project and have a focus skill which they reference in the foundation subjects. St Mary’s use their teacher training sessions to give teachers the time to plan when and how they are going to use the Short Lessons from the Hub in the run-up to the Projects. Then, the project is embedded into the school curriculum plan.
All classes have a floor book to evidence their work, and this includes references and examples of essential skills. The floor book moves along each year with the class demonstrating their skill progression over the years.
St Paul’s CE C Primary School has been working with Skills Builder since 2019 to integrate essential skills into the wider curriculum and develop the language of skills for both staff and students within the school community.
A whole school fortnightly focus skill allows the children and teachers to focus tightly. Teachers use this window to reflect on student progress and update assessments on the Skills Builder Hub. Once all eight skills have been explicitly taught, teachers will pick a focused skill that will most benefit their learners to focus on, before the cycle begins again.
Once a week, as part of the remote learning timetable, teachers share a Skills Builder activity from the Skills Builder Home Learning Hub with learners at home. Teachers have reported that this has been positively received by both children and parents at home, who understand the importance of developing the eight skills.
St Paul’s use the Skills Builder eight skills and their icons across all aspects of school life. The skill icons are added to curriculum displays and learning objectives in all subjects to really emphasise how the essential skills support curriculum teaching and learning.
The Haven started working with Skills Builder in 2019 to help raise aspirations and have matched their Christian Values to the essential skills. The Haven strives to provide a rich and stimulating Christian environment in which each child can learn, achieve, and experience success.
The Haven have matched their Christian Values to the essential skills, to make the learning easier for teachers and students. This is represented in displays around the school. Christian Values and essential skills are taught together each half-term to raise aspirations and create well-rounded and successful learners.
The Haven have been working with other schools to introduce the discussion around careers and how education is able to broaden children’s horizons. They are using Skills Builder to explicitly teach the essential skills and link these to the variety of professions, as well as learning in the classroom.
It’s important to join up all the dots and The Haven have created a briefing document for all external guests and visitors which outlines the eight essential skills. This means that there is a consistent set of words being used by teachers in school as well as guests to the school from outside.
The Towers Federation have recently combined their junior and infant provisions to create one school. Working together to ensure great futures for the learners, this is a school whose values and priorities align seamlessly with the Skills Builder approach.
Towers have made links between the essential skills and their school ‘BUILD’ values, tying them all together. This vision has been brought to life in the school logo which now includes reference to the eight essential skills. The whole school community, including parents, carers, students, teachers and support staff are behind it.
There is a Skills Builder display in every classroom, complete with icon posters and learners’ work. There are plans to further enhance the interactivity of these displays by creating a ‘Light it up’ system where stick-on LED lights are placed in the centre of each logo for students to ‘light up’ when they have shown great skills demonstration.
Teachers make use of the Short Lessons available on the Hub during lesson time where they see fit. This happens most commonly in PSHE sessions but also in other subject lessons where essential skills might be applied or where the curriculum can be better accessed through application of essential skills.
Windy Arbor has fully embraced the Skills Builder approach, embedding skills education from Nursery to Year 6. They're making further plans enhance their provision over the coming years.
To raise awareness, displays feature across the school. Children take ownership of the displays and use them to track progress. Early Years have trialled using stickers to celebrate skill use. There is a focus skill every fortnight, also displayed.
The school has embedded skills education from Nursery to Year 6. They also have an Autism Resource Centre, which works with essential skills. Younger students are introduced to the language and learning is scaffolded through modelling and practise.
Students get involved with rich project-based learning, all framed by essential skills. A recent project involved designing a library on a bus! Students were encouraged to use Creativity skills at their step level to create their ‘Dream Space’.
William Tyndale Primary School has been working with us since 2013 to pioneer a deeply integrated, long-term approach to essential skills education. It's now the platform for all parts of the curriculum.
It’s crucial to start young, so the school has structured a whole-school programme so that all students - from Nursery to Year 6 - develop the eight skills explicitly and measure progress year on year. This means that all students can articulate their strengths and focus tightly on what they need to learn.
The school has built the approach into various aspects of school life, making sure students see the relevance of essential skills across the curriculum. For example, the skills are incorporated into debating and oracy, and are referenced regularly in assemblies.
The programme includes a range of experiences to bring skills to life, including Challenge Days, Trips to Employers and Projects. The school has even created its own classroom projects and developed connections with local employers as a way to further build and contextualise essential skills.