Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area

Newsletter 11 June 2021

Message from our Chair

I hope you all had a good half term break and that everyone has returned fit and well for this last term of the academic year.

You will know by now that the Department for Education (DfE) has formally announced the extension of the Opportunity Area (OA) programme to August 2022. This is very good news indeed. This week we were very pleased to see so many of you at the launch events to introduce our Year 5 plan. Further details of the programme of activities will be available shortly.

The DfE is also publishing Insight Guides of case studies from across the 12 OAs. Fenland and East Cambridgeshire OA is appearing as a case study in the Insight Guide focused on recruitment and retention which will shortly be published. The DfE will be hosting webinars about this and the other Insight Guides over the coming weeks. Details of how to register are in this newsletter. 

So, there is a lot going on. As ever, please contact the Opportunity Area team on with any queries you may have.

With best wishes,

Tricia Pritchard


In this newsletter:


Good Reviews for STEPs Refresher Training

Schools accessing the OA-funded STEPs Refresher courses, delivered by the OA Outreach Support Workers, have reported that they are really appreciating the support. The Refresher course is instrumental in helping schools put in place and understand the electronic STEPs toolkit.

There are still some limited funded places for the 1-day STEPs Refresher course. These are available to book via the SEND BookingBug website

Return to Contents

Opportunity Area Updates

Year 5 Launch Events

Thank you to all those of you who were able to join us for the first of our Year 5 Launch Events this week. It was great to get your feedback on our plans for Year 5 of the programme, so we hope you found the session useful too.

Our next Year 5 Launch Event is taking place on Tuesday 22 June, 3:00–4:30 p.m. This event will primarily be aimed at project providers and the OA's wider partners. However, if you are from a school and missed out on the launch events earlier this week, you are welcome to join this session also.

If you would like to attend the launch event on 22 June, please book your place via Eventbrite.

Return to Contents

OA Strengths Directory

We are pleased to share with you the OA Strengths Directory. This is designed as a networking tool for Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) Clusters and to enhance special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision.

The directory was produced following the first SEND Reviews that were completed as part of the OA Inclusion Offer. It provides strengths highlighted by settings in each of the SEND Review areas of focus:

  • Experience
  • Engage
  • Effective
  • Expectations
  • Embed
The directory includes links to resources and school websites, with brief summaries of how schools have used the resources to enhance their SEND provision.

Return to Contents

Insight Guides – Sharing Learning

A focus for Year 4 of the national OA programme has been to share learning. A series of Insight Guides will be published to support sharing learning widely. The first of these Insight Guides has now been published and is focused on Careers.

You are invited to attend the upcoming series of free webinars, hosted by the DfE, in which panel members will expand on the stories in the Insight Guides. During these sessions you will be invited to comment and ask any questions you may have. Details of two of these upcoming webinars are below:

  • OA Webinar: Careers Advice for Young People
  • OA Webinar: Teacher Recruitment and Retention

Return to Contents

Reflective Supervision Skills Course

The YMCA has introduced a new Reflective Supervision Skills course to its choice of funded training available to OA schools and settings.

Good supervision has been shown to reduce staff stress and support their development as practitioners. The Reflective Supervision Skills course offers new and dynamic ways for senior leaders and managers to support their teams. It also contributes to promoting an organisational culture that fosters and maintains positive mental health, supporting the DfE focus on whole-school wellbeing.

To book a place on this course and find out about upcoming dates, call 01733 37187 or email Be sure to mention you’re an OA school!

Alternatively, YMCA can tailor the course to whole staff teams or clusters of schools. Visit the YMCA website for more information about its mental health services or contact the office on 01733 373187.

Return to Contents

Ongoing Opportunity Area Offers

50 Things to do Before You're 5

The 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 app was introduced in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in December 2020. Since then, over 2,700 users have downloaded the app. It is free to download and is designed to support families with low or no cost activities to support their children’s learning and development.

We would encourage you to promote the app in your school or early years setting. This can help to develop partnerships with parents and promote home learning. Linking activities carried out in the setting to those in the app can help parents understand how the activities support their child’s development and readiness for school.

For more information about the app and how to use it to develop parent partnerships, email

Return to Contents

Reminder: Call for OA Advocates – Headteachers and EY Setting Leads

We are looking for local headteachers and early years (EY) setting leads who may be interested in becoming advocates for the 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

Return to Contents

Additional Updates

Cambridgeshire Local Services Briefing Webinar

On Wednesday 30 June, 12:30–2:00 p.m., the Emotional Health and Wellbeing team will be hosting a Local Services Briefing webinar. During this webinar, local services providing support for children and young people with emotional or mental health needs will present details of their offer. The webinar will also include a brief question and answer session for each service. For more information, visit the Emotional Health and Wellbeing page on the OA website.

Return to Contents

Skills Builder Accelerator: Building Essential Skills

The Skills Builder Accelerator is the flagship programme of the Skills Builder Partnership for schools and colleges. The programme includes training and support for the Skills Leader, tools and resources for your colleagues, and real impact for your students. For more information, visit the Skills Builder page on the OA website.

Return to Contents

Computing Curriculum Hub

Your local Computing Curriculum Hub is offering several CPD opportunities this term for primary and secondary teachers and planning many more for next year. Many of these come with generous bursaries attached. For more information, visit the Computing Curriculum Hub page on the OA website.

Return to Contents

If there is anybody who you think would like to receive this email, please feel free to forward it on. Email to be added to the distribution list.
View this email in your browser
Copyright © 2021 Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp
Copyright © 2021 Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp