Damson Wood works with The Skills Builder Partnership to ensure every learner has opportunities to build eight essential skills to support them now and in the future. Research has shown that building these eight essential skills can support the emotional wellbeing and academic success of children and young people, as well as preparing them for life beyond school.
Essential Skills are defined as:
* Problem solving
* Staying positive
* Aiming high
The receiving, retaining and processing of information or ideas
This skill is all about being able to listen effectively to others. Initially when developing this skill we focus on remembering short instructions, understanding why others are communicating and picking out important information. We then look at how to demonstrate we are listening effectively, thinking about body language, open questioning and summarising and rephrasing.
The oral transmission of information or ideas.
This skill is all about how to communicate effectively with others. Initially, this skill focuses on being able to speak clearly – first with a friend or someone we know well and in small groups, and then with those who are not known. The next stage is about being an effective speaker by making points logically, by thinking about what listeners already know and using appropriate language, tone and gesture.
The ability to find a solution to a situation or challenge
This skill focuses on how to solve problems, recognising that while part of Problem Solving is technical know-how and experience, there are also transferrable tools that individuals can develop and use. The first steps focus on being able to follow instructions to complete tasks, seeking help and extra information if needed. The next stage focuses on being able to explore problems by creating and assessing different potential solutions. This includes more complex problems, without a simple technical solution.
The use of imagination and the generation of new ideas
Creativity is the complement to Problem Solving, and is about generating innovations or ideas which can then be honed through the problem-solving process. The first few steps focus on the individual's confidence in imagining different situations and sharing their ideas. The focus is then on generating ideas – using a clear brief, making improvements to something that already exists and combining concepts.
The ability to use tactics and strategies to overcome setbacks and achieve goals
This skill is all about being equipped to manage emotions effectively and being able to remain motivated, and ultimately to motivate others, even when facing setbacks. The early steps focus on identifying emotions – particularly feeling positive or negative. Building off that is the ability to keep trying – and then staying calm, thinking about what went wrong, and trying to cheer up and encourage others.
The ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them
This skill is about being able to plan effectively. Initially, this is about knowing when something is too difficult, and having a sense of what doing well looks like for an individual. The focus is then about working with care and attention, taking pride in success and having a positive approach to new challenges. Building on this, individuals set goals for themselves, informed by an understanding of what is needed, and then be able to order and prioritise tasks, secure resources and involve others effectively.
Supporting, encouraging and developing others to achieve a shared goal
At the early stages of developing this skill, the focus is on basic empathy – understanding their own feelings, being able to share them, and recognising the feelings of others. The focus is then on managing working with others – dividing up tasks, managing time and sharing resources, managing group discussions and dealing with disagreements.
Working cooperatively with others towards a shared goal
This skill initially involves understanding how to work with others in a positive way, behaving appropriately, being timely and reliable and taking responsibility for completing tasks. The next steps focus on making a contribution to a team through group decision making, recognising the value of others' ideas and encouraging others to contribute too.
Skills Builder has developed a Universal Framework that breaks each of these essential skills down into 16 teachable steps. We will be using this framework to teach and practise each of the eight skills at the appropriate level throughout school life. We will also be incorporating skills into other areas of the curriculum for example, problem solving in maths. We will be introducing a new skill every few weeks and pupil's demonstrating this skill may be recognised in our weekly assemblies. The programme has been developed as progressive and sequential and aspects of each are broken down into smaller parts.
Skills Builder recognises the vital role parents and carers have in helping their children to build their essential skills. Skills Builder has made many of the resources we will be using in school to teach and practise skills available to use at home on the Skills Builder Home Learning Hub.
We will also be running a weekly Skills Challenge on our Home Learning Hub for learners to try at home. The challenges are designed to be fun, engaging and interactive and focus on building one skill each day. Families can sign up to receive the Skills Challenges by email via the Home Learning Hub and we will share the link with the challenge directly via Dojo/ Padlet.