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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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Ash Manor has only been working with Skills Builder since 2020 but have already made lots of progress. They have introduced the essential skills to their learners in line with whole-school priorities to provide opportunity to build skills for the workplace. They have introduced the programme for Years 8, 9 and 10.
It’s been helpful for staff and students to have a clear focus on what needs to be learnt next. This year, Years 8 and 9 are focussing explicitly on Speaking and Listening whilst Year 10 are focussing on Aiming High. Form tutors use the Short Lessons for these skills to open up discussion and build these skills regularly.
Year 8 are going to run Operation Moonbase, which will be the perfect opportunity to apply those same Speaking and Listening skills to a specific set of “real-world” problems. While the challenge is about setting up a society on a distant moon, across the day the students become recruiters, town planners and politicians to design their dream society.
The Skills Leader at Ash Manor is joining up the journey for the students who might take part in lots of different extracurricular activities. Provision like the Duke of Edinburgh now makes explicit links to the essential skills. This way, students recognise the many different areas they practise and strengthen their essential skills in.
As a newly established academy, GWA wrote skills development into its development plan from the very beginning and continues to strive to embed the Skills Builder Principles into its approach.
GWA sought to make essential skills education central to its mission and curriculum intent from the moment it was opened. The Academy linked this focus to the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework’s Quality of Education judgement and identified a key governor who would include a focus on essential skills during lesson observations, book reviews and student panel discussion groups.
At GWA there is an expectation that all departments include teaching of essential skills in their Schemes of Learning and Curriculum Statements. Before the Academy opened, Skills Builder training and resources were provided to teachers to ensure the language was being used from the start.
All GWA students are involved in enrichment activities from Monday to Thursday every week. Sessions are planned in such a way as to ensure there are multiple opportunities for students to practise their essential skills. Each student has an Enrichment Booklet, which references those skills.
Highgate Wood Secondary School have been working with Skills Builder since 2018. They have used Skills Builder to support their careers strategy.
Highgate Wood have integrated the eight essential skills into their career planning for Year 7 to Year 10 by mapping the steps from the Skills Builder Universal Framework to the different activities in each year group.
Each year group has the opportunity to apply their skills on a dedicated drop-down day, using the Skills Builder Challenge Days. The stand-alone days provide a memorable experience for students, but by using the same eight essential skills the students are better able to join up the dots between these special days and the rest of their learning.
The Skills Leader at Highgate Wood sees Skills Builder as a key component of ensuring that students develop employability. Over time, the skills are becoming more embedded across the school, using careers hook for why these skills are important. The teacher training sessions are used to widen the reach of the programme.
UTC OLP is a 13-19 school, specialising in Health Sciences, Sport Science and Computing. The school provides an integrated academic and vocational curriculum. They joined the Accelerator in September 2020 to teach essential employability skills alongside their core curriculum.
Teacher training sessions have supported teachers to understand what resources are available and how to access them. The eight essential skills have since been introduced and regularly taught during the Form Tutor Programme. UTC OLP have devised a cycle where a new skill is introduced every two weeks so there is time to focus.
UTC OLP are celebrating student success in essential skills by revising the school reward to encompass the eight essential skills. Students are encouraged to recognise essential skills across the curriculum. Reward slips are given to students in lessons and recorded in iSAMS, then achievements are recognised in the end-of-term Reward Assembly.
Communication of their work is important to the school and social media is being used to update parents and students about the skill focus in school. Skills Builder logos and explanations are used to communicate the importance of each focus skill to specific careers.
Since 2018, Hornsey School for Girls has been working on a strategic approach to building essential skills. They recognise that in a rapidly changing world, equipping students with essential skills is the best way to empower them in any career.
The school has a three-year plan for embedding skills and careers experiences, allowing them track progress. Essential skills have been integrated into tutor time, where staff deliver aspects of the PSHE curriculum. Department leads are also building essential skills teaching into their subject.
All teaching staff have been introduced to the plan and resources, including what best practice looks like. Teachers use short activities from the Skills Builder Hub, which require minimal preparation and encourage reflection. Wall displays are prominent, and teachers highlight and reward students applying skills, like great Leadership and effective Problem Solving.
A common language around skill development with students, teachers and external visitors. In conjunction with the school’s focus on STEM and meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks, they bring skills to life with Challenge Days, and inspiring Trips to local employers - as well as organising for professionals to speak to students about their journey and how they use essential skills every day.