Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area

Schools Newsletter 23 July 2019

Message from our Chair

As we reach the end of the academic year, I want to thank you for your support and contribution to moulding and shaping the Opportunity Area programme for Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. It has been an exciting year. Most of the projects are now well underway and we shall be maintaining the momentum as we enter the final year of the programme.

We were so pleased to meet many of you at the inaugural Golden Thread Conference this week. The fact that over 100 of you attended after school in the last week of term was truly impressive. Thanks go to the speakers, the organisers, the exhibitors and to everyone who made the conference such a success. Sharing good practice and communicating success is so important and what better way to do it than to listen to colleagues enthuse about their evidence based projects and the impact they are making on accelerating pupils’ progress and supporting pupils’ individual educational and mental health needs.
This month we say goodbye and thank you to Briony Davies, who has been the Opportunity Area’s Programme Manager from the outset. Briony is leaving the team to start a PGCE course. She has brought an enormous amount of enthusiasm to the role, been a key player in getting the programme off the ground and has been a true ambassador for the Opportunity Area. I am sure you will all join me in wishing her well as she moves on to this next chapter.

We are pleased to announce that Tiffany Middleton has been appointed as Programme Manager following Briony’s departure. Tiffany has been leading the SEND and Inclusion projects including the Inclusion Offer. We shall be recruiting for a new project lead to join the team but, in the meantime, Tiffany will continue to oversee this work.

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 on as they would be delighted to speak with you about how your school can benefit.


I hope you all have a refreshing and enjoyable summer. May the sun shine!


Tricia Pritchard


In this newsletter:

The Golden Thread Conference

On Wednesday 17 July, the inaugural Golden Thread Conference took place, which provided an opportunity for delegates to hear about some of the fantastic educational research taking place across the area. The event featured presentations of some of the local projects supported by the Opportunity Area's Evidence Based Fund, inspiring keynote speeches from Daniel Muijs, of Ofsted, and Alex Quigley, of the Education Endowment Foundation, and fascinating focused sessions led by local research leads. We received some great feedback from those who attended, including:

"The speakers were very engaging and inspiring. I enjoyed hearing about school based research."

"Simple and effective, loads to take away and use in the classroom."

Our thanks go to Chris Jones, of Littleport and East Cambs Academy, and Rebecca Pentney, of the East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Research School, for organising such a brilliant event. We would also like to thank the speakers and exhibitors for their hard work in preparing for and presenting at the conference, and for all the delegates who committed their time to come along and contribute to the discussion. We look forward to seeing even more of you at a future event.

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Projects to Celebrate

The end of the academic year also marks the end of some of our projects:

The Early Years Phonics Training, delivered by
Cambridgeshire County Council’s Early Years Service, was carried out locally to 67 early years practitioners across the area. All participants provided positive feedback about the training and the council’s Early Years Service will use learnings from the project to inform future projects in the county.
Whilst many of the Mental Health training courses continue the ‘Whole School Introduction to Mental Health’ and ‘Mental Health Champion Training for Designated Staff’ have so far involved over 1100 members of staff from schools across the Opportunity Area. Following on from this training, 92% of participants reported feeling more confident in their ability to support children and young people, and 94% of participants reported feeling more knowledgeable about mental health concerns.

The 2018/19 Early Career Development Programme, comprised of three training courses delivered by the Morris Teaching School Alliance, Diamond Teaching School, and the March and Chatteris cluster of schools, recently ended, having provided training for 72 participants from across the Opportunity Area. These courses were designed for teachers in the early stages of their careers and featured one training session per half term, as well as additional networking opportunities. We have received some excellent feedback from these courses, and 82% participants rated the training as high quality. The Opportunity Area will be funding at least one of these training courses for the 2019/20 academic year so watch this space for further details.

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Pinpoint SEND Parent Carer Support – Session Dates Announced

Pinpoint has recently launched a range of new SEND information workshops and drop in sessions across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. These sessions are free to parent carers and are fully funded through the Opportunity Area.

The workshops cover a wide range of SEND topics and include a session where parent carers can stay on and chat or ask questions. A list of dates and venues for the July and August 2019 workshops can be found here. In addition, Tii Hubs have launched across the area – these are coffee sessions but Tii means 'together we're ending isolation through information'. Parent carers can drop into one, as and when they fancy a cuppa and a chat. Details of sessions throughout July and August 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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Phonics Learning Visits to English Hub

Further to the successful Phonics Learning Visit to the New Wave English Hub in June, please click here for a flyer detailing further dates to visit the English Hub in Hackney. The Opportunity Area is not providing transport for these dates however please note that the flyer includes information on support with costs for attending. If you have any queries you can email the English Hub directly on
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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 1 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 18 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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Recruitment Incentives Grant

We know that recruiting staff can be a challenge, and that recruiting the right people to vacant posts is of huge importance to your schools and early years settings. 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. 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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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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