Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area

Newsletter 16 October 2020

Message from our Chair

As this is my first message of the new academic year, I want to say a big thank you, on behalf of the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area (OA) team and the Partnership Board, for the tremendous effort you and your colleagues have made to ensure that schools, early years settings and colleges welcome pupils back to a safe environment after such a long break. We don’t underestimate the challenges and we recognise the huge commitment and energy expended in overcoming the challenges.

In this fourth year of the OA programme, we are committed to supporting schools and settings to respond to their emerging needs in these new circumstances. Below you will find information about our Year 4 Universal School Improvement Offer. This offer provides an opportunity for schools to access bespoke school support tailored to their needs. We have also updated our website to ensure this is a helpful one-stop shop for information on offers available to schools and settings in the area.

Please contact the Opportunity Area team on with any queries you may have.

With best wishes,

Tricia Pritchard


In this newsletter:

Opportunity Area Updates

Opportunity Area Website

We have updated the OA website with details of the latest offers and support available from the OA, Cambridgeshire County Council and our other partners. Whilst we have highlighted some of our key new offers below, please take a look at the OA website Current Offers pages for full information about all of our ongoing offers.

We would particularly draw your attention to some of the OA-funded offers pages that have recently been updated with new training courses and session dates:

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New Opportunity Area Offers

School Improvement Programme Universal Offer

This year, we are continuing to target resource for 13 schools in the area, delivering bespoke evidence-led support for children (and their schools/settings) in greatest need. This sits alongside a ‘universal offer’ which will respond flexibly to the needs of all schools. We have designed the universal offer in response to feedback from system leaders, Head teachers and guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation on the priorities for Covid-19 recovery. 

As part of the first phase of the universal offer, schools are invited to access bespoke school support through a call/session with an experienced school leader or National Leader of Education (NLE). This time can be utilised however you see fit, in any way that supports your school improvement needs. This provision is there for you if you would like a sounding board for your ideas or someone to help navigate the vast range of Department for Education offers available. It also provides an opportunity to share your thoughts on the OA support that would be most appropriate for your school moving forward.

If you are interested in receiving this support, please complete this short contact form and return to

Details about further phases of the universal offer will be released at a later date. Future resources could include ‘hot topic’ webinars, information on governance, training on mental health for staff and curriculum support.

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Cultural Enrichment - Creative Briefs (for Secondary Schools)

The Opportunity Area (OA) has part-funded the Creative & Cultural Futures cultural enrichment programme for OA schools since it began in September 2019. The programme has had to adapt in response to Covid-19 and the team is introducing a new Creative Briefs project for 2020/21. 

Creative Briefs is a ‘future proof’ flexible learning model, aimed at young people aged 11 to 18. The project involves a range of local artists, cultural professionals and creative organisations setting a 'Creative Brief'. Contributors represent the 12 creative industry sub-sectors including Music Performing and Visual Arts, Advertising and Marketing, Publishing, and Heritage.

Participating schools will receive an 8-week creative learning programme. This programme can be completed in school time or extracurricular, in school or at home. The young people will get the opportunity to work individually or in groups. They will build essential skills through activity and taking the creative lead in their own project ideas.

For more information, visit the Cultural Enrichment – Creative Briefs webpage.

Creative & Cultural Futures is a cultural enrichment programme, led by Festival Bridge and delivered by Babylon Arts, for teachers and students. The Cultural Briefs project is funded by the Opportunity Area Festival Bridge and NEACO.

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Ongoing Opportunity Area Offers

SEND Reviews (Inclusion Offer) - Deadline Extended

Whilst the Inclusion Offer is closed to new applications, the deadline for the submission of the second SEND Reviews and funding breakdowns has been extended to Monday 30 November 2020.

Please see the SEND Review Key Information document for more details. For any additional support please contact

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Additional Updates

English Hub Support and Showcase Event

The New Wave English Hub is pleased to offer funding support for schools in phonics, reading and early literacy.

All OA schools who meet one of the criteria below, who attend the Showcase Event on 20 October (details below) and complete a self-referral form (linked below) are guaranteed a minimum of £500 and a maximum of up to £3,000 match funding:

  • Lower than average percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard in the phonics screening check (82%)
  • Low attainment in the bottom 20% of children
  • A higher than average proportion of children eligible for pupil premium (22.9%)
  • Ofsted judgement of Requires Improvement or Inadequate
  • A high proportion of groups considered hard to reach such as boys, travellers, EAL children.
If your schools meets any one of the criteria in bold, the requirement to match fund can be waived and you could receive up to £6,000. This higher level of funding can be released after completing an early reading audit. This consists of a day spent working alongside a Literacy Specialist identifying best practice and next steps.

Funding can be used in any way that promotes the focus areas of the English hubs: first and foremost age-appropriate phonics provision, for example phonics resources, training and decodable reading books.

Showcase Event details:

The English Hub is offering a free, half-day event for Head teachers and Reading Leaders to learn about the work of the English Hub, see phonics teaching in action and find out how you can access its support on Tuesday 20 October 9.15am–12.30pm. You will need to complete a brief post-showcase reflection form. You can claim up to £160 in costs for supply cover to attend the virtual showcase if your Head teacher attends the event and your school meets the criteria above.

Please complete the English Hub Showcase Event booking form before attending.

The English Hub also runs a series of webinars, occurring every couple of weeks. The list of autumn term sessions is available to view now. Spring content to follow.

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