Fenland and East Cambridgeshire OA Survey

The Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area (FECOA) are keen to understand the impact of their programmes and activities in your school, college, or early years setting. 

To that end, they have commissioned a team of researchers at the Faculty of Education University of Cambridge to evaluate the range of FECOA-supported activities this school year. 

As part of that evaluation, we are looking to understand your experiences and thoughts on a range of issues that are relevant to FECOA programmes, via this survey.

Your insights are crucial for building a comprehensive picture of the broad impacts and ways of working for FECOA programmes. We therefore invite you to respond to a set of questions around your engagement with aspects of the FECOA programmes as well as your professional practice.

Please complete the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area survey  (it should take no longer than 10-15 minutes to complete). 

All the data collected through this survey will be treated by the research team in strictest confidence, and in accordance to existing data protection laws under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, 2018). Data from this survey will only ever be reported in the aggregate and neither you, or your school, college, or early year setting will be individually identified in any reporting emerging from the survey. 

Data will be kept until the end of the project (December 2022) and then deleted.

For any questions about the survey, please contact the research team member responsible for this aspect of the research, Dr Sonia Ilie, on isi22@cam.ac.uk.

Call for OA Advocates – Headteachers and Early Years Setting Leads

We are looking for local headteachers and early years (EY) setting leads who may be interested in becoming advocates for the Opportunity Area (OA) programme. If you would like to get involved, we would ask you to select an area of the programme which interests you most and in which you feel confident to share your experience and expertise.

The role would involve:

  • improving communication and information flows between the OA and school/EY setting leaders, including governors, by explaining the OA’s strategy for determining priorities and deploying resources, and receiving feedback on the support provided by the OA. 
  • acting as a ‘critical friend’ to the Programme Manager by providing support, challenge and feedback on the schools’/EY settings’ priorities as they relate to the OA’s support strategy.
  • representing the OA at cluster headteacher meetings where appropriate.
  • meeting once every half term with other headteacher/EY setting lead advocates, the Programme Manager and the Chair of the Partnership Board.

We envisage capping the role to 5 hours per half term and would be happy to provide funding to support release time for any specific pieces of work.

If you are interested in becoming an OA advocate, please contact Tiffany.Middleton@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Curriculum Support Survey

We have put together a curriculum support survey in collaboration with Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Teaching School Hub. The survey will help us to identify curriculum strengths and development needs to enable key partners to plan and implement support for schools across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. 

Please complete the curriculum support survey by Friday 22 October 2021 (it should take no longer than 5 minutes.

Year 5 Announcement

We are pleased to announce that the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed an additional year of funding for the Opportunity Area (OA) programme. Therefore, Year 5 of the programme will run until August 2022. This is wonderful news for the area, as the good work already started can be continued during a time it is needed more than ever.

Tricia Pritchard, Independent Chair of the Opportunity Area Partnership Board commented:

This is very good news for Fenland and East Cambridgeshire as we continue on our mission to raise attainment, raise aspirations and extend career opportunities for the young people who live and go to school in the area. We shall be particularly focusing on supporting vulnerable pupils and vulnerable schools to overcome the challenges that Covid-19 has presented. It is vital that we all work together to provide a coherent support system for children and young people from the early years through to employment. This extra year’s funding will further our quest to overcome barriers to social mobility and transform young people’s life chances.

We look forward to working with our partners, schools and settings for another year.

Year 4 Announcement

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.

Job Opportunity: Outreach Support Worker Roles

In the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area (OA) one of our priorities is to improve the support for children and young people with mental health concerns and Special Educational Needs. We have recently appointed Tiffany Middleton as the SEND and Inclusion Regional Lead to develop a package of support for schools in the OA.

To further refine and implement the package of support and training on offer we are now looking for a small team of subject experts and specialists to join Tiffany. Continue reading “Job Opportunity: Outreach Support Worker Roles”

Primary School TA Training

We are pleased to announce a new fully funded training offer available for primary teaching assistants (TAs) working in the Opportunity Area. Delivered by experienced training providers, the courses, which are running in the 2019 spring and summer terms, focus on topics highlighted by local TAs as key areas of need:Continue reading “Primary School TA Training”

Job Opportunity: SEND Reviewer Roles

The Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area, in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, is recruiting for a team of SEND reviewers to improve outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. These SEND reviewers will act as expert advisors to schools as well as coordinate supportive SEND activity for school clusters in the region. These are one-year fixed term posts, available either full or part time on a secondment basis.Continue reading “Job Opportunity: SEND Reviewer Roles”

Schools Newsletter – November 2018

Message from our Chair

As we approach the end of the calendar year it is a good time to reflect on the progress we have made and look forward to the exciting work ahead of us in the New Year. I was therefore thrilled to be joined by stakeholders from across the Opportunity Area at the recent Stakeholder Meeting where we presented and discussed the progress of projects already underway and discussed some of the key issues facing young people in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. In this letter, you will read about some of our ongoing activities and some initiatives that are just starting. The pace of the programme is increasing as we move from the planning stage to the implementation stage.Continue reading “Schools Newsletter – November 2018”