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An international partnership of schools, teachers, employers and youth organisations building the eight essential skills for success.

The Skills Builder Partnership

location_on United Kingdom
Through our work with 500+ organisations, 10,000+ educators and 200,000+ learners, we help schools and teachers to teach essential skills through engaging project-based learning. We also link with local employers, who host inspiring workplace trips to give students a taste of the world of work. Finally, we collaborate with youth organisations to provide a Framework for building skills.
Tom Ravenscroft, CEO
It has never been more important to invest in building a set of essential skills in our children and young people: the ability to communicate effectively, to creatively solve problems, to manage themselves and to work well with others.

Tom Ravenscroft, CEO


HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.
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Innovation Overview

3 - 18
Age Group
1 295
Updated on February 1st, 2021
about the innovation

What is The Skills Builder Partnership?

There is something fundamental missing in education. Knowledge and good grades are not enough.

We see it in schools, where students often struggle to articulate their ideas, work with others, solve problems or organise themselves to achieve their goals. We see it in colleges and universities, where tutors fear their undergraduates struggle without the structures and support offered by schools. One in twelve freshers from a low-income background drops out. We see it in businesses and startups, where employers consistently report that they prioritise the employability skills of school and college leavers - but then 50% report that they cannot recruit young people with these skills.

In every case, students need to be skilled in communication, creative problem solving, self-management and collaboration. The language around this is diverse and confusing: are they 'employability', 'enterprise', 'entrepreneurship', 'transferable' or 'soft' skills? We simply call them essential skills, because that is what they are.

At the core of our work is the Skills Builder Framework, which breaks down each of the eight essential skills into teachable and measurable steps. This is expanded upon in depth by all of our programmes and products, and we have a tailored offering for each aspect of the Partnership.

For schools, we offer bespoke programmes for integrating essential skills into the curriculum, featuring a range of multi-part Lesson-time Projects and whole-school Challenge Days. We also provide training and support on the best practices for teaching the skills, and our powerful online tool makes assessment rapid and informative. Finally, we link schools with local employers so they can develop skills in a real-life context.

Individual teachers can access our 10-minute video activities for free, as well as a host of printable resources like posters, certificates and detailed handbooks for teaching.

We're also becoming increasingly engaged with schools and teachers internationally; teachers in 12 countries use our online resources; we've shared our work with educators in Poland, China, Uganda, the US and more; and we run projects with international school partners, such as Sohar International School in Oman.

For employers, we provide strong two-way links with schools in the local community and help to organise inspiring workplace visits where volunteers work with students on the skills they'll really need. We're also beginning to work with employers to embed the Framework into their existing youth work.

Finally, we're working closely with a wide range of youth organisations that also build skills, helping to integrate the Framework into their existing programmes. This allows them to design their programmes based on a consistent and rigorous system, making measuring impact much more efficient and meaningful.


See this innovation in action

Education and outreach is an inextricable part of the London Symphony Orchestra’s DNA. LSO Discovery works at a grass-roots level in some of east London’s most disadvantaged areas, providing children and young people with access to inspiring music experiences. In January 2018, they launched a new programme called B.A.N.D, Bring a New Dimension, which supports children and young people in east London to overcome barriers to participation in music.   How did they use the Skills Builder Framework? London Symphony Orchestra are piloting use of the Framework as a way for young people to self-assess where they are at in the two skills of Teamwork and Aiming High when they start on the B.A.N.D programme. The young people will complete this self-assessment again at the end of the programme, enabling the LSO to track the skills-progress made by the young people through the programme.   What's been the impact of using the Framework? The LSO have long been aware of the impact that music projects can have on young people’s development of the essential skills. However, it has been challenging to evaluate this in a data-driven way, so they were looking for a more rigorous way of evaluating the impact of music on those kind of skills. The Skills Builder Framework may offer this more rigorous approach to the evaluation of their projects.     How do they plan to use the Framework in the future? The LSO are looking to continue using the Framework as part of their B.A.N.D. programme so that young people can self-assess where they are at in their Teamwork and Aiming High Skills. As these projects are quite short in time-frame, approximately 10 weeks, they will be looking to use an offline self-assessment document that captures more of the detail within each of the 15 steps per skill.   “For a long time we have been very aware of the impact that music projects can have on the kind of skills covered in the Skills Builder Framework. The Framework therefore offers a more rigorous approach to the evaluation of our LSO Discovery projects.” Philip Chandler, Trusts & Foundations Manager “It’s a framework which we can lock ourselves into. It’s a challenge in the arts sector to quantitatively measure the change in these types of skills, even though we know these skills are impacted by our type of work.” David Nunn, LSO On Track Projects Manager “For a long time we have been very aware of the impact that music projects can have on the kind of skills covered in the Skills Builder Framework. The Framework therefore offers a more rigorous approach to the evaluation of our LSO Discovery projects.” Philip Chandler, Trusts & Foundations Manager
White Stuff is a multi-channel fashion and lifestyle brand recognised as a leader in sociable retailing. They are constantly looking for new ideas and ways to improve the communities they live in through their Doing Good Stuff initiative, so running business trips to develop students’ essential skills is a great fit. How do they use the Skills Builder Framework? White Stuff, in partnership with Enabling Enterprise, regularly host students at their Head Office, with the programme activities focusing on the world of retail. The students have the opportunity to understand the White Stuff ethos and brand by speaking to colleagues in different departments, while practising the essential skills from the Framework, through structured activities, which they would need to work there. Why do they use the Framework? The Framework allows the White Stuff staff to support the children to develop the essential skills throughout the day by really honing in on what the student needs to improve. What's been the impact of using the Framework? On the White Stuff trip students regularly have the opportunity to practise their Creativity to ask the right questions and use their Problem Solving skills to solve some complex problems. The volunteers also benefit from using the themes of the Framework in tasks such as explaining which skills they use in their specific role allowing them to interact with the children effectively. “The programme is a great way to develop essential life skills and we are more than happy to welcome groups to our unique and slightly unusual corporate office to help them explore the world of work.” Rachel Dawes, Head of People “The visit clearly has an impact on the children themselves, however the impact on our colleagues is also important. Most haven’t spent time with a group of children since school and it is fascinating to see them explain how they work and why they work in their specific role.” Derek Miller, Foundation Manager “The children supported by our staff take everything on board, developing the highlighted skills such as listening throughout the day, while still using their imagination to ask the right questions and solve some complex problems.” Clive Conran, Facilities and Maintenance Manager
Beth Hardy is the Careers, Employability and Aspiration lead at Kingswood Secondary Academy in Corby, Northamptonshire. Over the last year, she has been putting together the school's career and employability strategy. How do they use the Skills Builder Framework? Beth and staff at Kingswood Secondary Academy have been using the Framework to teach their students the essential skills they need for success beyond school. Teachers use the short skill videos that teach the different steps of the Framework with students across the school from Year 7-13 in specific 20-minute career sessions every week.  What's been the impact of using the Framework? The short skill videos help Beth and staff (many of whom are not specialists in Careers) deliver effective careers and employability skills education to all students across the school. Through using the videos, students have been able to think about and discuss the skills they will need for any job they want to do.  How do they plan to use the Framework in the future? Beth will continue to use the video activities as a core part of the whole-school Careers curriculum to ensure all students are building their essential skills for success.  “We will be able to build on the skills as we move through the years and encourage and support our young people to demonstrate these skills in any encounter with employers.”  Beth Hardy – Careers, Employability & Aspiration Lead “Because the skills have been written into our programme these have already been embedded and will further develop and be a clear reference point for them to identify with in the future.”  Beth Hardy – Careers, Employability & Aspiration Lead “Our students need short, focused activities that are easy to access, simple to use and not patronising. The videos are well put together and clear.”  Beth Hardy – Careers, Employability & Aspiration Lead 
Shaftesbury Park Primary School is in Wandsworth, South London. For several years now the school has had a focus on enterprise and enabling children to make the most of their talents. How do they use the Skills Builder Framework? Shaftesbury Park have used the Skills Builder Framework for two years to embed the development of the eight essential skills across the school from Years 1-6. The staff receive training on how to develop the eight skills and use the Framework to assess where their students are at, and what skills they need to focus on. Students have the opportunity to use the skills in projects and Challenge Days as well as going on business trips to see the skills in action in the world of work. Why do they use the Framework? Deputy Head Andrew Smith explains the growth of essential skill development within the school came from thinking: ‘What skills do children need in the future, what are the core employability skills they’ll need?‘. The Framework enables teachers to accurately assess their students so they can target their strengths and weaknesses, work out which skills need more focus at a class level, and prepare to support students falling behind in a particular skill. What's been the impact of using the Framework? James, a Year 5 teacher who supported students through City Pitch, where they designed and built an app for a social purpose, was clear that by developing their essential skills throughout the year, the students were well equipped to tackle any challenge. He commented on how important the skill of Aiming High was for the children who hadn’t believed they’d achieve so much. “The Skills Builder Framework makes it more on par to any other lesson. The data from it allows you to see the progress being made and is strong evidence of the impact.” Andrew Smith, Deputy Head “The girls have found their voices and grown whilst the boys have shown greater maturity when working in teams, due to the valuable set of skills that are setting them on the right path for life.” Year 3 Teacher “The biggest impact is the children’s aspirations. They’ve changed, they see more opportunity. They’ve been given new visions of what they can do with their future.” Andrew Smith, Deputy Head
Sohar International School in Oman is an all-through school with students from 3 years old to 16 years old. Over the last year they have been using the Skills Builder Framework to build their students’ essential skills. How do they use the Skills Builder Framework? At the start of the school year, Sohar International School built an extra hour into the weekly timetable for students to focus exclusively on the eight essential skills. Teachers used the Skills Builder Framework to help pitch the projects at the right level for their students so that they were being stretched in the skills. Students were able to really build their Teamwork skills during these projects and even included their family and the local community. Why do they use the Framework? Sohar International School identified that an injection of entrepreneurial skills and spirit were required to shift students’ mind-set from a dependence and expectation of government jobs being available after graduation, to one of innovation, exploration and start-ups. The Framework ensures the necessary skills are developed in the Sohar students so that they are better prepared to ultimately contribute positively to the local economy and industry. What's been the impact of using the Framework? Using the Framework has not only benefitted the children, due to the explicit success criteria around what good looks like for each skill, but also the teachers. Teachers use the language from the Framework to signpost the skills in other lessons and to explicitly praise students they see displaying the skills. “After analysing our children from lesson one to lesson ten, I saw rapid growth in the children's confidence, leadership capabilities and decision making.” Divan Koch, Director of Enterprise “... not only did the children benefit from group based work, but our teachers were equipped to perform better." Divan Koch, Director of Enterprise "Skills Builder has developed our staff’s teaching style and enriched our teachers to be more effective in their other subjects.” Divan Koch, Director of Enterprise


Achievements & Awards

May 2019
June 2018
Innovation page created on

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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Check out the Skills Builder Framework + more
To help you discover the Framework and start integrating it into your work, we've created four Toolkits, each tailored to the needs of the different sectors we work with. They offer advice for embedding the essential skills into your daily work with children and young people, as well a copy of the F
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School leader? Get in touch about our programmes.
Becoming a Partner School means working closely with our team of teachers to develop a comprehensive approach to building essential skills.
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Teacher? Check out our free video activities + resources.
For individual teachers who want to develop their students' essential skills in the classroom, we provide access to a selection of our tools and resources.
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Skills-building organisation? Let's integrate the Framework.
Organisations that work with children and young people frequently develop essential skills in the course of their work. We help provide a rigorous and consistent framework for building those skills, as well as associated resources.
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Employer? Join our growing network.
Over 130 employers are already part of the Skills Builder Partnership through Enabling Enterprise. These partners host regular trips for schools students, support learning in the classroom and work with schools in many other ways.
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