Building Essential Skills for All

Posted 07/10/2022

With students embarking on a new academic year, Higgins Partnerships is pleased to be working in partnership with Skills Builder Partnership supporting schools and colleges to improve essential skills learning and making it a core part of education for every child and young person.

Over the past year, as a Collective Impact Member, the organisation has worked closely with two schools, Wolf Fields Primary School in Ealing, and St Mary Magdalene Academy in Islington to access the Accelerator programme, where each school is equipped with expert training, tools and resources to ensure essential skills are a part of everyday learning.

Amy Ross, Head of Social Value at Higgins Partnerships explains, “We have been partners with Skills Builder Partnership for many years and are proud to support their mission that one day, everyone will build the essential skills to succeed.

“We understand how important these highly transferable skills are at every stage of life and through our partnership we are really pleased to have seen the difference it has made with both primary school children at Wolf Fields and secondary school pupils at St Marys Magdalene Academy.”

Over the past year Higgins’ funding and support has:

  • Transformed two schools
  • 60 teachers attended in-depth training introducing them to their school’s skills strategy and the Skills Builder Hub, the online teaching and impact platform for building skills
  • 12 teachers used Skills Builder tools and classroom resources from the Skills Builder Hub to enhance their teaching
  • Supported 338 students
  • Both skills leaders from the funded schools believe that the Accelerator Programme has had a medium or high impact on their school
  • 100% of teachers from the funded schools are more confident in teaching essential skills after training and support
  • 100% of teachers believed that the programme had an impact on their students’ wellbeing, academic progress, employability, and broader readiness for life
  • 100% of the teachers agreed that the Skills Builder Hub resources had a positive impact on their students’ skills progress

Through Higgins Partnerships’ Volunteering Policy six members of staff have also spent time working alongside 60 students providing virtual employer engagement. These opportunities were extremely valuable for the students’ removing misconceptions about the construction sector and inspiring students to explore new job roles and bring essential skills to life.

Skills Builder Partnership recently launched the Essential Skills Tracker, which allows them to have a complete picture of the essential skills levels across the UK. Its hard-hitting findings have highlighted the importance and urgency of boosting opportunities for everyone to develop their essential skills. Opportunities are not evenly distributed, highlighting the critical issues around inequality and social mobility.

Amy Ross continues, “Our work with the schools is also serving to help disadvantaged communities where on average 35.1% of students are eligible for free school meals across the school, compared to the national average of 17.4% and on average 74.7% of students are from minority ethnic background (the national average is 33%.)

“We want our work to help those from less advantaged backgrounds to provide them with skill development opportunities without which can result in lower wages, wellbeing and job satisfaction.”

The Accelerator programme allows each school to work towards Six Best Practice Principles which form the criteria for the Skills Builder Award:

  • Keep it Simple
  • Start early, keep going
  • Measure it
  • Focus tightly
  • Keep Practising
  • Bring it to life

This helps students develop the eight essential skills for success:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Staying positive
  • Aiming high
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork

One teacher commented, “It’s been brilliant to find a structured way for developing skills at our school.”