Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area launched in January 2017, when Fenland ranked 319th out of 324 districts in the Social Mobility Index, and East Cambridgeshire ranked 311th. Since then, we have helped reduce the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers in reading and speaking in their early years. At Key Stage 2, more children are achieving the expected standard in reading. Support for children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities has been improved through a SEND Review process, and through direct support for parents and caregivers. We are delivering support for children with social, emotional and mental health concerns. There are fewer teaching vacancies, particularly in primary schools. The number of secondary schools rated good or better for Leadership and Management by Ofsted has also climbed since 2017.
We have seen progress across the area but we still have a way to go, so we are pleased to announce that the programme is being extended for a fourth year, until August 2021. We will continue to invest where children, schools and settings most need support. We will also help schools and settings respond to Covid-19.
During Year 4, we will prioritise work focused on:
- Improving outcomes in Early Years – we will:
- Provide improvement support to the Early Years sector
- Accelerating progress in schools – we will:
- Provide bespoke support for all schools to drive improvements
- Recruitment and retention of school/Early Years staff – we will:
- Continue to offer recruitment incentive grants to schools and early years settings
- Work with key partners to further develop support for recruitment and retention
- Social, Emotional and Mental Health – we will:
- Support school Mental Health Leads to develop effective plans for Covid-19 recovery, including accessing external expertise
- Work with Mental Health Champion forums to support planning and delivery of extra support to children and young people
- Working with partners to develop post-16 opportunities for progression – we will:
- Bring together public and private sector partners to create more opportunities to progress after 16
Tricia Pritchard, Independent Chair of the Opportunity Area Partnership Board commented:
“I am delighted that the Opportunity Area programme has been extended for another year and that we, have been awarded a further £1.43m to further our work in improving the life chances of the children and young people in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. We are acutely aware of the challenges facing schools, families and communities as a result of Covid-19 and therefore the announcement that the Minister has approved our plan for Year 4 of the programme is both timely and very good news. It is vital that we continue to build upon the networks and partnerships already established and we are committed to doing just that. At the same time, we shall be developing a strategy to sustain the momentum beyond the lifetime of the programme.”
View the Year 4 announcement released by the Department for Education (DfE) in this Year 4 DfE press release.
We look forward to working with our partners, schools and settings for another year, to help transform the life chances of the children and young people who live and learn in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire.