Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area

Schools Newsletter 13th September 2019

Message from our Chair

As this is the first newsletter of a new school year, I send my very best wishes to you all. I hope that term has started well.

Although this is the final year of the Opportunity Area programme, the pace is not slackening. Most of our projects are well off the ground and in this newsletter, you will read about the progress that is being made. This year is about evaluating what is going well and why, identifying lessons learned, engaging schools, colleges, universities, external agencies and partners, businesses, employers and crucially, local communities, in supporting the drawing up of a legacy plan which is sustainable and deliverable. Increasing social mobility is about providing opportunities for and transforming the life chances of children and young people so that they gain access to a wide range of career choices and career routes as they enter the world of work. This is what, together, we are trying to achieve. It is not a quick fix but is a long-term goal, which requires collaboration and commitment. I know that there is a huge amount of goodwill and positivity in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire to make this happen.

We look forward to meeting you at the Stakeholder Meeting on Thursday 3rd October and the Phonics Conference on Thursday 7th November. Please do save these dates. As always, we value hearing your views and the Stakeholder Meeting provides a good opportunity to share insights. Planning for the Phonics Conference is well underway and more details will be available shortly.

If you would like to speak to the Opportunity Area team about any aspects of the programme please do not hesitate to contact them on as they would be delighted to speak with you about how your school can benefit. We are delighted that Tiffany Middleton has been appointed as Programme Manager. She replaces Briony Davies whom we wish well as she starts her PGCE in Manchester. We also welcome Jacquie Woodcock who has joined the team as the School Improvement Lead.


Tricia Pritchard


In this newsletter:

Save the Date – Phonics Conference

We are pleased to invite you to our upcoming Phonics Conference, taking place 10:00–3:30 on Thursday 7th November at the Burgess Hall in St. Ives. Join our Keynote speakers Chris Jolly (Managing Director and owner of Jolly Learning Ltd.) and Ruth Miskin (CEO and creator of Read Write Inc.) to push forward your phonics thinking. 

In partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, we are organising this event to share information and best practice in the leadership and teaching of phonics. We are bringing together local and national professionals with a passion for accelerating the progress of children in phonics and reading. Our speakers will share with you their experiences, research and methods to improve outcomes for all pupils. You will hear from subject leaders, head teachers, English leads and teaching assistants who will explain what they have done to support their children and achieve over 90% in the phonics screening check.

There will be a choice of workshops which will provide lots of opportunities for questions, networking and discussion. They will share recent research theory and give practical advice on ways to inform your classroom practice and implement these ideas within your schools. 

Further details will be released in the coming weeks, but we encourage you to book your place as early as possible as we expect places to be filled quickly. There are a maximum of 3 places available per school in the Opportunity Area. We look forward to seeing you in November.

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Upcoming Stakeholder Meeting

The next Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area Stakeholder Meeting will be taking place at 10:30–12:00 on Thursday 3rd October at Littleport and East Cambs Academy. This meeting will provide an update on the Opportunity Area programme and feature discussions around legacy and sustainability.

If you would like to receive notifications about this and future Stakeholder Meetings, please email

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YMCA Mental Health Training – Extra Places Announced

We are pleased to announce that funding for the YMCA Mental Health Training has been extended which means there is still time to apply for one or more of these hugely popular 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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Mental Health Champion Forums

We are pleased to announce that the Mental Health Champion Forums will be continuing into the 2019/20 academic year. These forums will be facilitated by the Emotional Health and Wellbeing Team and will 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 the upcoming Fenland forums are below and the venues and dates for the East Cambridgeshire-based forums are due to be confirmed shortly.
  • East Cambridgeshire – Venue TBC
    • Dates TBC
  • March, Chatteris and Whittlesey – Westwood Primary School, March
    • 15th October (2:00–4:30pm)
    • 19th November (2:00–4:30pm)
  • Wisbech – Thomas Clarkson Academy
    • 16th October (2:00–4:30pm)
    • 20th November (2:00–4:30pm)

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Pinpoint SEND Parent Carer Support – Autumn 2019 Session Dates Announced

Pinpoint will continue 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. Full details about the topics due to be covered in the upcoming Opportunity Workshops in September are provided in this document.

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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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 2nd January, and schools will have until the end of June 2020 to claim the funding.

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Teach Fenland and East Cambridgeshire

The Opportunity Area has partnered with Athene Communications to run a marketing campaign advertising teaching in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. This campaign includes online advertising, social media and print advertising. The focus of the campaign is to advertise Fenland and East Cambridgeshire to current teachers working in other areas of the country to encourage them to relocate here, and to advertise teaching as a career path to people currently living locally. The website is now live and can be found here:
You will have received a request from Athene Communications to send through some details about your school in order to help create the content for the campaign. Please do send this information to if you have not done so already. Please also remember to post your vacancies on this portal, as it is free to do so.

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Emotional Health and Wellbeing Service

The Opportunity Area has funded two additional Emotional Health and Wellbeing Practitioner posts in the Emotional Health and Wellbeing Team, specifically to build capacity in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire and provide an increased level of support, guidance and training for schools across the area. More details about the Emotional Health and Wellbeing Service can be found here.

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DfE Governance Training

The Department for Education is funding a number of providers to deliver professional development programmes for those in academy and school governance leadership or clerking roles. Each provider will have a slightly different offer, so governors who would like to participate in this training should contact their preferred provider for details in the first instance. More information about the training is available here.

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Parental SEND Support – SENDIASS

As a result of increased funding from 1st April, SEND Information Advice Support Service (SENDIASS), formerly Parent Partnership, has been able to increase its service in Fenland & East Cambridgeshire. Donna Sparrow, Case Coordinator, is now working full time during term time (increased from 28 hours) and part time in holidays as a result of extra funding.

This funding is enabling her to attend more meetings, either in settings to support parents or by way of drop-in/appointments at various venues in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire – appointment slots are available at:
  • 1:00–4:00pm Wednesday 18th September – Ely Children's Centre
Parents wishing to book a 15 minute appointment with Donna should contact her directly: For more information about the local SENDIASS offer, including leaflets for families, please visit this website.

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National Professional Qualifications (NPQs)

We are pleased to announce that funding for the DfE’s reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) has been extended to March 2020. The scholarships funding has been hugely popular with much of the delivery taking place in areas most in need of improvement. In the event of oversubscription, funding will be prioritised for teachers in Opportunity Areas to ensure demand in these areas can be met first. Providers have been set firm deadlines to submit participant data to the DfE to ensure that applications can be processed promptly.

See here for the full list of providers: The following NPQs are available:
  • National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML)
  • National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL)
  • National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH)
  • National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL)
Each provider will have a slightly different approach and curriculum, so please contact your preferred provider for details about their course in the first instance. If you have any further queries, please contact

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DfE Vacancy Service

As part of the 2017 Government manifesto to reduce the financial burden of recruitment, DfE has developed, a national search and listings service for teaching roles, in publicly funded schools. It is a free of charge service, aimed at reducing the time and money spent on advertising and recruiting staff in addition to becoming the 'go to' service for teachers and NQTs looking for their next career move. 

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Teach First

All non-selective primary and secondary schools in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire are now eligible to recruit trainee teachers from Teach First.
Teach First is a charity working for equality of education, and finds and trains talented people to become inspirational teachers in the schools that need them most.
Trainees are unqualified teachers in Year 1 of the programme and begin teaching at 60%, progressing to 80% from half term 2. In 2018, 79% of East of England trainees gained Grade 1 in their assessment for QTS. Trainees commit to a minimum of two years in their placement school, completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, and receive expert support across both years of the programme.
You can find more information on Teach First here, or contact Rhian Harris, School Partnerships Manager, at or on 07447180056.

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Researchers in Schools

Researchers in Schools is an opportunity for schools to recruit PhD graduates to train and teach in all EBacc subjects. Participants on the programme commit to working in your school for three years during which time they receive training and support from award-winning education charity The Brilliant Club to lead activities that champion university access, disseminate subject expertise and promote education research within your school’s context.
One school in the Opportunity Area has already benefited from the programme and we were pleased to hear the positive feedback from the school’s head, Richard Spencer:
“Ely College are delighted to be participating in the ‘Researchers in Schools’ programme. Our participant brings a deep subject expertise in Physics to the college and is making good progress towards becoming an effective teacher. We see the programme as an excellent way of bridging the world of academic research and education, with a flexibility that can be of great benefit to both participants and schools. We are very grateful for the support that we have been able to access from the Opportunity Area which has helped facilitate our participation.”
More details about the programme can be found here and if you would like to discuss it further, please contact

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