Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area

Newsletter 31 October 2019

Message from our Chair

Thank you to those who were able to attend the Stakeholder Meeting earlier this month. These meetings provide the Partnership Board and the Opportunity Area team with valuable feedback and insights into the programme. The focus for the last meeting was legacy planning. We split into four groups to align with our four overarching priorities and discussed a number of questions relating to, for example, what is going well and why, and the extent to which the programme is building capacity to sustain the momentum. There was common agreement that continuing to strengthen networks in order to share good practice and promote school-to-school support is essential. The feedback from this latest stakeholder session will be considered during the next Partnership Board meeting which will take the form of a legacy workshop.


Our next event is the Phonics Conference on Thursday 7 November. We hope to see many of you there. Full details have been circulated and appear in this newsletter too.


As always, please continue to get in touch with the Opportunity Area team about any aspects of the programme on as they would be delighted to speak with you about how your school can benefit.


Tricia Pritchard


In this newsletter:



Phonics Conference – Register by 1 November!

If you have not already registered then please find below your school’s invitation to the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area Phonics Conference – Above and beyond 90%, taking place on Thursday 7 November 2019. 

Click on this link
to sign up by Friday 1 November. (Please note, there is a maximum of 3 places per school available.)

The invitation is open to head teachers, phonics leads, English leads and teaching assistants wanting to challenge and push forward phonics thinking within your school.

Keynote Speakers

Kirsty Godfrey (HMI)
– Kirsty will focus on helping leaders to understand the deep dive into reading and what this will involve for schools. This will provide leaders with an insight into what to expect on inspection, plus it will alert them to some of the common pit falls to avoid as well as help them to be familiar with the evaluation criteria for reading in the school inspection handbook.

Chris Jolly – Chris will speak about general issues on the teaching of reading, then follow with the principles of synthetic phonics as shown by the skills taught in Jolly Phonics.

Ruth Miskin
– Ruth will talk about what leaders should do to make the teaching of reading their school's avowed core purpose, drawing upon the 2019 EIF for the inspection of reading. 

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Teaching Vacancies Website

As a pilot area for the Department for Education’s Teaching Vacancies service, schools in the Opportunity Area have been able to lead the way in advertising their vacancies on the new service. The DfE is committed to supporting schools drive down the cost of recruitment advertising and improve the number of quality candidates applying for teaching roles. The department would like to partner with schools in the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire OA to see how Teaching Vacancies, the national search and listing service, can help schools achieve this goal. 

Schools in the region who are already using Teaching Vacancies to advertise teaching roles have seen an increase in the number of applicants per vacancy and the DfE are keen to ensure that other schools experience the same benefit. 

If you
 have any upcoming vacancies planned in your school, or you have used the service to fill a vacancy, the team would like to work with you.

The team can create social media content and case studies that can be shared across social channels to provide a boost to your vacancies, meaning that they will be viewed by an even wider audience, translating into an increase in applicants for you.

If you would be interested in discussing this further, please contact

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Stakeholder Meeting Presentation

We enjoyed meeting with those of you who attended our latest Stakeholder Meeting on 3 October. During this session we reflected on the progress in the Opportunity Area so far and discussed ideas for how to continue the positive work. The slides presented at this meeting are available to view here.

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Calling all EBF Project Leads: Share Your Project Success

This is a call to schools involved in the Evidence Based Fund! The East Cambs and Fenland Research School is keen to support you in sharing your project and the impact it has had in your school. Many schools have expressed that they want to find out more about other schools’ projects so the Research School has offered its website as a place to share these details. Have a look at examples of already published content here and here.

If you would like to get involved, please email and the team will send you a brief outline of how to proceed. We would envisage this taking around half an hour of your time – you can be as creative as you like though and the team can add images for you if useful. It will also also be a useful way to reflect on your project and help others who may have similar needs explore your implementation process.

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New Teach Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Promotional Video

The Teach Fenland and East Cambridgeshire website has been updated to include a new video advertising teaching in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. You can find the video on the front page, as well as a number of other pages, of the website here: Please share this as widely as you can!

If you have not done so already, please send through details about your school to as this will help build the content for the advertising campaign. Please also remember to post your vacancies on this portal, as it is free to do so.

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Autumn Mental Health Champion Forums

There are a number of Mental Health Champion Forums taking place throughout the remainder of the autumn term. Facilitated by the Emotional Health and Wellbeing Team, these forums aim to:
  • Support the development of the role of Designated Senior Lead for Mental Health in schools
  • Help schools support children and young people experiencing distress
  • Share recent research, good practice guidance and signposting
  • Provide opportunities for networking, collaboration and joint problem solving
  • Effect change in school systems
Details of upcoming sessions can be found below. For more information and details on how to register click here (Fenland) and here (East Cambridgeshire).
  • March, Chatteris and Whittlesey – Westwood Primary School, March
    • 19 November (2:00–4:30pm)
  • Wisbech – Thomas Clarkson Academy
    • 20 November (2:00–4:30pm)
  • East Cambridgeshire – Bottisham Village College
    • 5 December (2:30–4:30pm)

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Speech, Language and Communication Support for Secondary Schools

The Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Secondary team is an integrated team of speech and language therapists and specialist teachers who work in mainstream secondary schools across Cambridgeshire. The team provides support for young people in secondary school education who have speech, language and communication needs. It provides consultation, assessment, advice, intervention and training for any staff in school working closely with young people with SLCN. SLCN is a high incidence SEN and approximately 10% of young people in the UK have long term speech, language and communication needs. If you are interested in finding out more about the services that the team provides, please contact or

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Outstanding Phonics and Reading Showcases

The New Wave English Hub is hosting a series of showcase events providing phonics and early reading CPD for head teachers, reading and phonics leaders. A number of Opportunity Area schools attended one of these events in June and provided excellent feedback. More information and details about upcoming events can be found here. If you have any queries you can email the English Hub directly on

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Workshop: The Impact of Technology on Youth Mental Health

YMCA Trinity Group invites you to a free briefing on Thursday 28 November for schools and colleges to discuss how technology can impact on mental health and consider positive solutions.

Further information and details on how to register can be found here. Due to demand, you can book a maximum of two places per setting. Additional places can be requested via email and will be offered should there be spaces after the deadline.

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Careers Update

Good news – careers programmes are developing exceptionally well in our secondary schools, supporting our students to make good informed choices at key stages of their education.

We are delighted that all schools in the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area have signed up to the Enterprise Adviser Network and those schools who would like an enterprise adviser have been matched with a senior member of staff from a local or national business. The enterprise adviser supports the school with developing their careers strategy and employer engagement.

Since the introduction of the National Careers Strategy in December 2017, secondary schools, special schools and alternative provision have worked hard in our area in developing their careers programmes, basing their provision against the eight Gatsby Benchmarks. All our schools have taken the careers provision self-assessment COMPASS several times over the last two years and are now demonstrating some excellent results. Currently we have one school which has achieved all eight benchmarks and four schools have achieved six out of the eight benchmarks which is wonderful news. We are hopeful that all schools will retake the COMPASS self-assessment again in summer 2020 with more schools being able to achieve full benchmarks.

For further information, please contact Alvina Morey, Enterprise Co-ordinator, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, at

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Mentor Training

The Opportunity Area is now offering a fully funded teacher-to-teacher mentoring programme for all qualified teachers.

As part of this programme you will receive four training days (lunch, travel costs and teacher cover costs included) and ongoing support to deliver one high-impact mentoring session per month to a trainee teacher, RQT or NQT within your school. Upon completion, you will receive a Certificate of Completion, presented at a regional cohort Celebration Event, and have continued access to a network of teacher mentors in your area. Applications are open now until Thursday 14 November. With only 40 places available, we strongly encourage you to apply here as soon as possible. For more information, see

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Pinpoint SEND Parent Carer Support

Pinpoint is continuing to run its range of Tii Hubs and Opportunity Workshops, for parents/carers of children with SEND, across the area in the autumn term. More information about these sessions, including a list of dates and venues, can be found here.

To find out more, please visit Pinpoint's website where you can book onto workshops, at no charge, and find your nearest Tii Hub. Please share this widely as we want to reach as many parent carers as possible during this 12-month programme.
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YMCA Mental Health Training

There is still time to apply for one or more of the hugely popular YMCA Mental Health Training courses. Even if you have already received funding, you can apply for courses you have yet to access.

However, funding is limited and places are offered on a first come first served basis – so don’t miss out!

details about each of the courses on offer can be found in this application form. There has already been fantastic feedback on the training, with one participant commenting:

'Thank you so much. Really excellent & thought provoking session. Some tangible actions we can put into practice following the sessions.’

apply for funding, please complete the application form linked above and return to as soon as possible. You will then be sent a booking form to secure your course.

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Recruitment Incentives Grant

Our Recruitment Incentives Grant is available to schools and early years settings in the Opportunity Area who are struggling to recruit to vacant posts.

The grant is for up to £10,000 to be spent on a range of incentives for new teachers and early years practitioners. These incentives include:
  • CPD (including Masters courses)
  • Learning visits to other schools (including in other parts of Europe)
  • Driving lessons
  • Childcare vouchers
  • Cover for personal days
  • A rental deposit
You can mention the incentives in your job adverts. Schools who have already benefited from this grant have reported that these incentives have helped to attract applicants who otherwise would not have applied to the school.

If you would like more information or to request this grant, please contact If your school has already benefited from this grant and would like further support for your ongoing recruitment you may be eligible for additional funding so please do not hesitate to contact us. Please note that the deadline for notification of intent to claim the grant is 2 January, and schools will have until the end of June 2020 to claim the funding.

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