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The Framework
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2023 - 24

The Skills Builder Accelerator is our flagship change management programme for schools and colleges. You nominate a ‘Skills Leader’ and member of senior leadership team to work closely with us. Together, we’ll develop a complete strategy for building students’ essential skills, including staff training, online resources and assessment tools. 

At the end of the first year, you’ll have a sustainable, long term strategy, a team of confident teachers, demonstrable student progress and a Skills Builder Award. Students at schools and colleges on the Accelerator make twice as much progress than their peers.

Check my eligibility

Every year, we fundraise over £400k to make 200 fully-funded places available on the Accelerator. Anyone can apply to join the programme, and you might be eligible to apply for a funded place.

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95% of Skills Leaders report impact in the first term
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2x student progress in essential skills
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Develop a manageable, long-term strategy for essential skills
The Eight Essential Skills: Listening, Speaking, Problem solving, Creativity, Staying positive, Aiming high, Leadership, Teamwork

What is the Skills Builder Accelerator?

  • A year-long, change management programme for primaries, secondaries, special schools, AP settings and colleges. 
  • There are only 200 places open each year. 
  • You nominate a ‘Skills Leader’ and member of senior leadership team to work closely with our team of former teachers. Together, we’ll develop a long term strategy that’s sustainable.
  • There are virtual training days, network events, 121 strategy meetings and staff training sessions, plus access to online assessment tools and resources.
  • The Accelerator will result in students building essential skills. Many choose to link this with existing provision for careers and employability, teaching and learning, character and capabilities and/or wider personal development  

What do you get, as the Skills Leader?

  • You’ll join a UK-wide cohort of over 400 Skills Leaders 
  • You’ll reflect on and build your own Leadership skills, across 2 virtual training days
  • You’ll work closely a former teacher at Skills Builder to embed best practice

What does your school/college get?

  • Skills Builder Award as recognition of best practice in essential skills education
  • Demonstrable student progress in eight essential skills 
  • A long-term strategy for equipping students with the skills they need to succeed
  • Admin rights on Skills Builder Hub, with over 300 resources and a formative group level assessment

The Partnership

The Skills Builder Partnership brings together 800+ education institutions, employers and leading organisations around a common approach to building eight essential skills. Central to our approach is a rigorous progression framework, a set of underlying principles and a complete suite of tools and teaching materials.

The Framework

The Skills Builder Universal Framework is the national standard for teaching essential skills. It breaks each skill into teachable steps, supporting progress for students of all ages and abilities - including those with special educational needs. The Universal Framework was developed with Skills Builder by the Careers and Enterprise Company, Gatsby Foundation, Business in the Community, EY Foundation, the CBI and CIPD.

The Principles

Refined over a decade, the Skills Builder Principles outline best practice in teaching essential skills. The six principles will form the basis of your strategy and your success embedding them will be recognised with the Skills Builder Award.

The Six Principles: Keep it simple, Start early & keep going, Measure it, Focus closely, Keep practicing, And bring it to life.
Click on each of the Accelerator elements to learn more.
Scroll right to see the whole journey, then tap on each of the elements to learn more.
Touchpoints with Skills Builder
Skills Leader Training Days
Skills Leader Training Day 1
Skills Leader Training Day 2
Strategy Meetings
Strategy Meeting 1
Strategy Meeting 2
Strategy Meeting 3
Teacher Training Sessions
Teacher Training Session 1
Teacher Training Session 2
Online all-through support
Premium Resources
Online Tools & Resources
Networking & Events
The Skills Builder Bronze Award
Recognises schools and colleges who are making a commitment to building essential skills. Some teachers will be using the Universal Framework with some students
The Skills Builder Silver Award
Recognises schools and colleges who are embedding the 6 Skills Builder Principles. Majority of teachers will be building essential skills across the curriculum
The Skills Builder Gold Award
Recognises schools and colleges who model exceptional practice across the institution. All teachers will confidently integrate essential skills into daily practice

What is the Skills Builder Award?

  • The goal is to equip students with the essential skills they need to succeed in education, wider life and subsequent employment
  • The Skills Builder Award recognises education institutions delivering high quality essential skills education at a Bronze, Silver and Gold standard
  • You will achieve an Award by embedding the principles of best practice, outlined in the Award Guide here
  • You will work closely with your Education Associate via 3 Strategy Meetings to develop and implement a manageable, long-term strategy
  • Awards are dated for 3 years and reviewed annually by our team

"Skills Builder has become an inextricable part of out school's identity" 
Headteacher / Primary

“I'm developing a bespoke strategy that is manageable but also has impact - best of both worlds!”
Skills Leader / Primary

“It is easy to engage teachers when everything is there at the click of the button”
Skills Leader / Special School

“Truly amazing and inspirational to collaborate with other leaders, hear their successes and how they have overcome challenges”
Skills Leader / Secondary

“It is, at heart, an inspiring concept that prompts better practice and therefore student outcomes.”
Careers Manager / Secondary

Round 1 deadline
31st March 2023
Round 2 deadline
26th May 2023
Round 3 deadline
7th July 2023
Register interest
Get the prospectus, tips on applying and latest updates on funded places in your area - click here
Speak to us
Pick a time to preview the programme and ask your questions
Send us an email
Still have questions? Email us at accelerator@skillsbuilder.org and we will be in touch
What is the time commitment?

The nominated Skills Leader will attend 2 virtual training days (9-3pm), where they work with fellow Skills Leaders. The nominated Skills Leader and a member of SLT will both attend 3 virtual strategy meetings across the year, this is 121 with your Skills Builder contact. You will also book 2 virtual training sessions for your staff, most do this in a regular staff training slot and it’s 2 1-hour slots. The goal is to explicitly build essential skills through the curriculum and special experiences, many do this by dedicating a weekly or fortnightly 20 minute slot to essential skills. You can see more about the programme structure on the “programme” tab.

How much does it cost and am I eligible to apply a funded place?

We’re a not-for-profit social enterprise and accessibility is important to us. The Accelerator costs £2090 per institution per year. However, we fundraise over £400k every year to remove this cost barrier for schools and colleges. You can check your eligibility to apply for a funded place here.

Should I be the Skills Leader?

Most importantly, the Skills Leader should be someone passionate about building students’ essential skills. The Skills Leader needs to attend 2 virtual training days, be able to organise 2 staff training sessions and to implement change. Change looks different but might include a regular tutorial slot for essential skills, reviewing curriculum plans to map essential skills, organising special events. Most Skills Leaders have other responsibilities in school or college, e.g., careers, teaching & learning, PSHE, year team lead.

How do I apply?

It takes about fifteen minutes to complete an online application form. There are 4 big questions. 

  1. What commitments are in place from your Senior Leadership Team to support this programme?
  2. How might the Skills Builder Accelerator support priorities in your school or college?
  3. How will you use the Skills Builder Accelerator to support your students most in need of building their essential skills?
  4. What excites you about becoming a Skills Leader on the Skills Builder Accelerator?

You cannot save an application in progress so need to start and submit at the same time. We review applications after each deadline. You will be contacted via email in the week after the deadline outcome of your application.

What makes a successful application?

There are only 200 places available each year, which means we can only work with the most committed schools and colleges. This is especially true for those applying for funded places. In your application, you will need to demonstrate that you understand the time commitment and logistics, and that you will be supported by senior leadership to enact change in school/college.

What happens if my application is successful?

We review applications in the week after each deadline. We will contact you in the week following the deadline. If your application is successful, your place on the programme is confirmed and you are committed to the programme for the following academic year. This is one of the reasons it is important to ensure that someone in the senior leadership team is the second contact on the application.

What happens if my application is unsuccessful?

We review applications in the week after each deadline. We will contact you in the week following the deadline. If your application is unsuccessful, we will contact you to let you know why. We might need to clarify something with you over a call, or we may invite you to reapply in the next round.

I am not in the UK, can I apply?

Yes - visit the Global Accelerator website to find out more.

I am at an independent school, can I apply?

Yes, you are welcome to apply but will probably need to self-fund the programme. You can check your eligibility to apply for a funded place here. Alternatively, you may prefer to purchase Digital Membership.

Who do Skills Builder work with already?
  • You can see the other schools and colleges on the Accelerator here
  • You can see the social impact organisations using the Skills Builder Universal Framework here (e.g. National Literacy Trust, Unifrog, Morrisby, Barclays Life Skills, Children’s University, Harlequins Foundation)
  • You can see the employers working with us here
  • The goal is to use common language for essential skills across education, the third-sector and employment.
How can this fit with the other priorities in school/college?

It’s likely that there’s lots going on in your school or college to build essential skills already. By working with us, we can make it more explicit and consistent across your staff body. The programme and resources are often used to improve existing priorities e.g. oracy, careers, employability, personal development, PSHE, behaviours for learning, SEND intervention. You will work closely with a former teacher (your Education Associate) who will ensure existing priorities are incorporated and the programme has maximum impact on student progress.

Do I need to teach all eight skills?

The Universal Framework outlines how to teach and assess eight essential skills. However, you will choose how many of these to focus on across the year. Many schools and colleges focus on just one step of one skill per term / half term but there are lots of other ways of structuring it. Often, mainstream students make 1 or 2 steps of progress across an academic year. Your dedicated Education Associate will support you to make these decisions in your first Strategy Meeting, but it can be good to include initial ideas in your application too. Pupils are not expected to leave education at Step 16 of every skill. Our employer partners use the Universal Framework to continue building adults' essential skills.

We’re expecting OfSTED, is now the right time?

OfSTED inspects institutions’ intent to provide for the “personal development” of all pupils, and the quality with which this work is implemented under the 2019 framework. This is broad but includes character (a set of positive personal traits that guides student conduct), readiness for next steps (so pupils can transition successfully) and social skills (so students can work effectively with others). At the end of the first year, you will have a team of staff who are confident to build essential skills and demonstrable student progress in skills like teamwork, problem solving, listening and aiming high. We regularly support Skills Leaders in the run up to inspections so don’t want this to be a barrier for you.