February 15-26. The vPlus Festival is an online festival from Potential Plus UK, full of workshops, webinars and discussions for young people with enquiring minds, their families and schools.

 

Skills Builder at the vPlus Festival 2021

Skills builder logos

Skills Builder at the vPlus Festival 2021

What is Skills Builder?

Skills Builder is a framework which helps children and young people to develop essential life skills for success in the 21st century. The Skills Builder Partnership has identified eight skills which help young people to support their social and emotional wellbeing, learning and academic outcomes and careers and opportunities. These skills have been identified as underpinning success at every stage of life, whether unlocking learning at school, ensuring that young people are fully prepared for the independence of university and college, or empowering people to land their dream job.

The eight skills are: Aiming High, Creativity, Leadership, Listening, Problem Solving, Speaking, Staying Positive, and Teamwork, they are increasingly being adopted as the standard in skills education.  Full details of all 16 steps of each of the skills can be found on the Skills Builder website www.skillsbuilder.org/universal-framework/

 

Potential Plus UK and Skills Builder

 For several years, Potential Plus UK has been working in partnership with The Skills Builder Partnership, using this framework to help develop the abilities of children and young people outside of an education setting. Whilst not all eight skills are suitable for online webinars (for example group work, team collaboration, presentation, debate), all of the events in the vPlus Festival offer children and young people the opportunity to develop their abilities in several of the key areas identified by the Skills Builder network.

In particular, here are several skills that you may want to focus on during your ongoing Skills Builder journey over the next two weeks.

 

Listening

This is clearly going to be very necessary in every activity! The last few months have highlighted that communicating in a virtual environment requires a new level of concentration and a different skill set to that which has been relied on in the past. Many have found the skill of Listening challenging, finding themselves drifting off in meetings or exhausted by them. Whilst the elimination of daily distractions has enhanced the learning experience for some during online school classes, for others it has been a struggle without the human interaction, debate with peers and teachers, and lack of visual clues as to the purpose of tasks and the emotional reactions of others.

Over the Festival, Listening will be more than simply hearing what is said in the sessions. Really listening requires real understanding. To understand, ask questions of yourself and of others. Why not come up with insightful, considered questions which could be asked in the Q&A time at the end of sessions? Or consider how to explain the workshops to others. How could tasks from the workshops be reframed for younger family members (or a parent who isn’t very good at listening!)? These sorts of activities earn kudos on the Skills Builder Listening ladder.

A bonus to the virtual learning environment of this festival is that all of the weekday sessions are being recorded, so you can listen to them as much as you want, coming back to them later and rerunning, pausing and rerunning as you please!

 

Problem Solving and Creativity

One or both of these Skills Builder elements can be found in everything that is happening over the Festival. In fact, if you get to the end of a session and don’t think you have flexed those Problem Solving or Creativity muscles at any stage, you should ask yourself why not! Even if an activity or task that explicitly says it is a problem or requires you to be creative has not been set, truly curious minds will find opportunities in everything and everywhere. Just attending a session may spark an idea, a question to be answered or a solution to be sought. Problem Solving doesn’t just mean being good at maths; Creativity doesn’t just mean being good at art. Check out the Skills Builder ladders on these areas for ideas on how to develop these skills.

 

Staying Positive

Preserving optimism, appreciating the ‘haves’ rather than the ‘have nots’ and calling on all our reserves of resilience have been key features to many people’s lockdown experiences. We very much hope that our Festival will be an integral part of your half-term week and that you will gain a great deal of enjoyment and companionship from it.

However, given the context in which the Festival is happening, some children may also have negative feelings – disappointment that they are meeting online and not with their friends at a Potential Plus UK event, or frustration with the experience of working in a webinar style virtual environment, where they cannot have direct, personalised input from the session leader.

The Festival will offer young people some content that they don’t immediately know or understand, or they could be asked to engage in an activity that they usually do their best to avoid. Facing challenge in this way is a learning opportunity that many children of high ability miss out on and their automatic reaction may be to object or to want to drop out of things. However, the chance to develop skills such as reframing (almost everything can be reframed to have a positive slant or to see a positive way forward) and self-regulation, are really valuable life skills and essential ones for children with a perfectionistic leaning or who actively avoid risk and challenge.

Check out the Staying Positive Skills Builder ladder for things to look out for, not just whilst directly engaged in Festival activities, but in the everyday as lockdown continues.

 

And the Rest…

Familiarise yourself with the Skills Builder framework and spot opportunities to incorporate these skills. For example, Aiming High Step 4 states ‘I work with a positive approach to new challenges’ and that is certainly one to look out for over the Festival. Skills like Speaking, Teamwork and Leadership might not be so apparent in the weekday sessions, but you may be able to incorporate skill steps from their ladders as you spend time together as a family over this fortnight.

As for the weekend social activities and additional challenges…well, the chances to Build Skills in this cacophony of interaction and imagination are pretty limitless! Enjoy learning about Skills Builder and incorporating these skills for life into your family life.