Skills Development and Assessment Across the Curriculum
One of the Key Outcomes of our School Improvement Plan for Session 2013-2014 is that:
“Our children and young people will be able to demonstrate robust core skills in Literacy and Numeracy and will be more able to apply these skills across the curriculum”
The main tasks identified to allow us to do this are:
- Implement a programme of skills development in Reading, Writing, Listening and Talking to impact on learning through planning, implementation and assessment
- Motivational Reading Programmes introduced throughout the school to support children and parents developing skills and reading together
- Framework of Numeracy skills development to be established and delivered through small learning communities to impact on attainment of all learners throughout the school
- Shared understanding of the principles of assessment for learners, staff and parents to achieve a consistency of approach, and a shared raised expectation of standards
To take this forward staff looked at a number of reflective questions to identify a cohesive approach from within our practice currently and to develop next steps.
- How do we design and deliver learning opportunities which enable children and young people to develop, demonstrate and apply a broad range of skills including both subject specific and cross-cutting skills
- Given the importance of sharing information and establishing effective working relationships with all partners to support children and young people’s skills development, how do we extend establishing good communication links, in terms of skills development,
- How can we increase opportunities for involving partners in planning as well as delivering learning, transition and opportunities for developing personal learning planning and skills for life and work
- How do we ensure that all children and young people in our establishment are provided with opportunities to develop a broad range of skills for learning, life and work
- How to develop and nurture a shared understanding and common language between partners.
The challenge is then to translate our plan into meaningful experiences for children and families to promote a shared understanding.
Programme of skills development in Crieff Primary School.
“Curriculum for Excellence promotes the need to view learning and teaching across curriculum areas as inter-connected and integrated. In Crieff Primary School, children are enjoying learning through flexible learning structures including small learning communities and shared learning through stages, which allows them to have rich and meaningful experiences and provides opportunities to develop and deepen learning and skills across a range of contexts.”
To allow us to deliver a programme of core skills development as effectively as possible we set up small learning communities in Maths and Reading and across the Primary 1 classes. The reason behind this is to allow us to put some additional teaching time into core skills areas, have children learning in smaller groups and ensures that we meet the learning needs of all children more effectively. This has been working particularly well last session and is now in place from P2 to P7 with children enjoying this way of working and learning well.
Staff plan and teach together using the skills assessment grids for Reading, Writing and Cross Curricular skills and implement a skills based programme in Numeracy through collaborative planning and teaching using Heinemann Active Maths. We have been working with colleagues across the clusterg to develop higher order Maths Tinking skills through the delivery of Rich Tasks in Maths.
In Reading we have introduced the Big Cats throughout the school. This resource has a very helpful section for parents in each book which supports then in building comprehension skills when reading with their children We have also introduced Reciprocal Reading throughout the school to develop higher order Reading skills. Our Thinking Skills Framework was developed in August and is delivered in all classes using Blooms Taxonomy and Thinkers Keys. (See appendix)
We have introduced skills based programmes in Spelling and Handwriting. To boost our focus on spelling and handwriting, we have introduced motivational points of learning such as the “Spellathon”. Core skills are so important for children and we would like to develop a consistent and progressive approach to these skills in school
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Flexible Learning Structures
Teachers plan collaboratively, supported by a member of the senior leadership team, to offer a wider range of experiences to all learners. For example, staff have identified opportunities to deliver more focused teaching by establishing small learning communities within mathematics and Literacy throughout the school. In Early Years classes, the number of themed opportunities to learn through play, and the management of these areas through Co Teaching, combine to extend the range of engaging experiences on offer to all children
Nursery/P1 have further developed their joint working throughout the year on a regular basis through ‘active learning’. Children have planned their own experiences, which have been linked to topic work, resulting in children being confident with adults and learning in other areas of the school. These interpersonal/intrapersonal skills (HWB) are measurable through the Assessment grids.
These priorities include ensuring appropriate levels of support for individuals and groups of learners throughout the school, collaborative planning meetings for staff to allow them to meet learners’ needs together more effectively and collaborative planning with our partners, such as Speech and Language Therapists to allow us to meet language and communication needs more effectively throughout the school. This means that children may be in different smaller focused learning groups, to provide greater challenge in developing their skills and learning.
The development of opportunities for leadership at all levels, for staff and pupils has been an important feature of the flexible working to build decision making skills. We have enhanced decision making opportunities for all P5-7 pupils by adding in the Citizenship Programme. The groups are: Pupil Council, Eco Group, Charities Group, Fair Trade, Health Promoting Schools, Media and the Community, GLOW and school website, and a group to lead consultation with all children on the new school project.
Cooperative Learning Skills
Al staff have been trained in Cooperative Learning methodologies and this has become embedded in teaching and learning throughout the school. Parents were able to see co-operative learning in action in June as children presented their learning on Food Sustainability through participating in classroom learning. A number of parents participated themselves on a Cooperative learning session as a consultation exercise for our new school build.
Skills in Self Evaluation for Children
Learner Led Conferencing has been introduced to allow children to evaluate their learning and communicate this effectively with their families Staff take part in individual conferencing sessions with children to take a very close look at their learning, teaching them to use evaluative language and starting to be very analytical about what and how they are learning, the progress they are making and the next steps they need to identify. This is beginning to impact on children’s ability to self-evaluate, recognise next steps, set new targets and share their learning experiences with parents, peers and teachers. It is about to be extended through Parent Contact Evenings in March’14
Skills in other Curricular Areas
Through whole school Learning in Context planning, staff use opportunities to discuss with children the cross curricular skills they will need to work on each term to further their learning. This adds value to the development of the curriculum as the skills are assessed at the end of each block and revisited on a three yearly cycle to allow staff to plan for depth and progression even though the context changes. For example the Global citizen ship contexts will rotate around Culture, International and Sustainability. This means that every three years the children will work on a Learning in Context area on Culture although this will visit a different Country each time. For children this keeps learning relevant and real. Enterprising skills are built into this process by children setting up businesses to fund some of the activities they wish to pursue.
Health and Wellbeing skills assessment grids are about to be introduced in school. This will teach allow staff to skills through the Experiences and Outcomes. The skills are identified in one of three categories, Interpersonal skills, Intrapersonal Skills and Physical Skills. These Skills assessment grids will be shared with parents who will then be able to add in their own assessment of their children’s skills in areas which are not specifically developed in school or where staff have little information about childrens skills and achievements in a specific area.
We have been able to increase the amount of sports available to children and are trying to be creative in getting children outside more often. We now have Rugby on offer on Fridays, Netball over lunchtimes and Cross country running in Primary 6 and 7.
We have been working with the Park Ranger to extend children’s skills in learning outdoors.