Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area

Schools Newsletter 22 May 2019

Message from our Chair

On Wednesday 24 April, our regular Stakeholder Meeting was held in St Wendreda’s Church Hall in March and it was a meeting with a difference! The hall was transformed into a market place with stands staffed by colleagues from partner organisations working with us on the Opportunity Area programme. We were very pleased to welcome staff from over 40 local schools and organisations to the event which provided an excellent opportunity for everyone to find out more about ongoing projects and initiatives, to network with one another, and to share views on the programme so far. At the meeting, we also launched our new Offer Booklet which explains what we have achieved to date, as well as what is on offer in 2019/20. As always, we welcome your feedback so please keep it coming. As we approach the final year of the programme, we are devoting time to discussing legacy and sustainability, and your views are important to us.


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.


Tricia Pritchard


In this newsletter:

Feedback from our April Stakeholder Meeting

We would like to thank all those who attended our most recent Stakeholder Meeting on 24 April, in March, for helping to make it such a vibrant event. The meeting was designed to facilitate networking between our stakeholders, with a 'market stall' set up allowing schools to speak directly to providers about the ongoing Opportunity Area projects and initiatives. We were pleased to meet with representatives from schools and organisations from across the Opportunity Area, and many of you commented on how there was a 'real buzz' in the room.
Following the success of this meeting, it is hoped that we will hold a similar networking event in the future, so watch this space for more details. If you would like to receive updates on future stakeholder meetings, please contact Bethan Du-Mont, Opportunity Area Programme Coordinator, at

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Offer Booklet

The Opportunity Area programme has many ongoing projects and initiatives available to support your school. In addition to our regular newsletter, we have produced a brand new Offer Booklet outlining the current offer, coded to different types of school and development areas. Your school will receive a hard copy of this booklet in the coming days, but in the meantime, please feel free to take a look at the online version available here
If you would like to receive additional copies of this booklet for your school, please contact Bethan Du-Mont, Opportunity Area Programme Coordinator, at
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The Golden Thread Conference

There are many examples of excellent educational research projects being conducted across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. To showcase and celebrate some of this research, a partnership of Littleport and East Cambs Academy, the East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Research School and the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area, is organising The Golden Thread Conference – Bridging theory and practice within the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area. We are pleased to welcome Daniel Muijs (Deputy Director, Research and Evaluation at Ofsted) and Alex Quigley (Senior Associate at the Education Endowment Fund) as our keynote speakers, as well as research leads from across the area to share details of the fantastic work being conducted locally.
  • Why? To enable accelerated progress of all pupils by considering the golden thread within the planning and delivery of the curriculum
  • Who is it for? Primary and secondary school teachers, support staff, middle and senior leaders, Trust leaders, NPQ participants, Evidence Based Fund project and research leads, and those who are simply interested in educational research
  • When? 3:45–6:15pm Wednesday 17 July (refreshments provided)
  • Where? Littleport and East Cambs Academy, Camel Road, Littleport, CB6 1EW
  • What? Showcase of local research into pedagogy, developing oracy, behaviour management, developing teaching assistants, and much more!
More information and details on how to register are available here. We are especially keen to hear from NPQ participants who wish to participate in an informal showcase of their research project at the event. Therefore, if you or someone you know is participating in a NPQ programme, please register now, or contact

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Outreach Support Worker Team

We are pleased to welcome Rosemary Gilby and Camilla Saunders to the Opportunity Area team as our newly appointed Outreach Support Workers, specialising in Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH). Their role will be to support schools in developing practice in SEMH provision.

If you would like to know more about how the Outreach Support Worker team might be able to support your school to improve outcomes for pupils with SEMH please email Tiffany Middleton, Opportunity Area SEND and Inclusion Regional Lead,

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Mental Health Support

Following on from the correspondence you have received from Tom Hughes surrounding the Mental Health Champion Forums, we are pleased to inform you that we are able to offer additional support for schools surrounding social, emotional and mental health (SEMH). This support will be available to all schools within the Opportunity Area that attend the Mental Health Champion Forums within their local area. Schools will need to complete a blueprint (which will be explained during the first Mental Health Champion Forum) by Thursday 11 July. However, following on from this, additional, bespoke support will be provided by YMCA Mental Health practitioners to help assist schools to identify their priority areas and develop an action plan. SEMH Outreach Support workers will also offer bespoke consultation and support for schools alongside a continuation of the Mental Health Champion Forums on a termly basis within their local area through the 2019/20 academic year. Further details of this will be shared in the first Mental Health Champion Forum within your local area so we encourage you to attend in order for you to benefit from this support.

Upcoming Mental Health Champion Forums within the Opportunity Area:
  • East Cambridgeshire – Bottisham Village College
    • 30 April (1:30–4:00pm) and 4 June (1:30–4:00pm) – please note the session on 4 June is for those who have already attended the session on 30 April
  • East Cambridgeshire – The Shade Primary School, Ely
    • 26 June (1:00–4:00pm) – this will be an extended session for those unable to attend the above dates
    • Please register to attend this event by 10 June by emailing
  • March, Chatteris and Whittlesey – Cromwell Community College
    • 21 May (2:00–4:30pm) and 8 July (2:00–4:30pm) – please note the session on 8 July is for those who have already attended the session on 21 May
  • Wisbech – Thomas Clarkson Academy
    • 22 May (2:00–4:30pm) and 9 July (2:00–4:30pm) – please note the session on 9 July is for those who have already attended the session on 22 May
More details can be found 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 the following times:
  • 1:30–3:00pm Wednesday 19 June – Bottisham Children’s Centre, 19 Lode Road, Bottisham, CB25 9DJ
  • 9:30–11:00am Wednesday 17 July – The Queen Mary Centre, Queens Road, Wisbech, PE13 2PE
Parents wishing to book a 15 minute appointment with Donna Sparrow, Case Coordinator for the area, should contact her directly: For more information about the local SENDIASS offer, including leaflets for families, please visit this website.

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Early Years Improvement Fund – Round 2

We are pleased to announce that the second round of applications for the Early Years Improvement Fund (EYIF) opened for applications on Monday 20 May. The EYIF has been launched to support Early Years providers working together in clusters to run a workforce development plan, or implement a communication, language and literacy improvement project. Early Years clusters are invited to bid for up to £10,000 to support their project. The deadline for applications is Tuesday 11 June, and applications will be reviewed by the evaluation panel by Friday 14 June.

There has already been lots of interest in the EYIF from providers across the Opportunity Area, so we are excited to hear your ideas for projects that can make a real difference to young children’s development. If you have any queries or to request an application form, please contact the Opportunity Area Early Years Specialist, Paula Durrant,

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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
  • Reasonable moving costs
  • 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.

The closing date for requesting this grant is Friday 18 October. 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.

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Foundation Teacher Training Programme

We know that there are brilliant teaching assistants in your schools, who would make ideal teachers but face barriers in accessing teacher training programmes. We have partnered with Cambridgeshire County Council's Teach in Cambridgeshire to offer a funded two-year schools-based route into Qualified Teacher Status. This is open to both primary and secondary schools in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire.

Benefits for the trainee:
  • You will receive comprehensive training which you will be able to apply in your school setting
  • You will attain (by July 2020) a Level 4 certificate in Supporting the Learning of Learners with SEND, and (by 2021) Qualified Teacher Status
  • You will be able to earn approximately £25,000 over two years, with your training paid for
Benefits for the school:
  • The chance to ‘grow your own’ staff
  • The chance to future-proof staffing issues, in a difficult recruitment climate which is predicted to become more challenging over the next two years
  • Contributions to the trainee’s salary and mentoring costs
  • CPD and mentoring opportunities for your existing staff, which could help retain them
We have ten foundation teacher trainees already signed up to train in schools in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire in the 2019/20 academic year. If you have a member of staff who is qualified (or will be by this time next year) and who you think would be a good candidate, or if you would like us to recruit a trainee for your school, please get in touch.

Full details can be found here. Please note that it is possible for candidates to join the second year if appropriate. To discuss this opportunity in more detail, please contact

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Primary School TA Training

The closing date for primary school teaching assistants (TAs) to register for the fully funded EAL and ICT training courses is Wednesday 26 June. Please note that the deadline to sign up for the Behaviour training course has now passed.

Please get in touch with the relevant training provider to find out more and register: If you have any general queries in relation to this training offer, please do not hesitate to contact Bethan Du-Mont, Opportunity Area Programme Coordinator, at

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National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) – Funding Extended

We are pleased to announce that funding for the DfE’s reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) has now 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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Mental Health Training

We have partnered with YMCA Trinity Group to offer a range of funded mental health training for schools and early years settings. Many of you have already taken up this offer and we’ve received great feedback about it. This feedback included a participant who described the training as “a useful training session in which I was able to use my current skills and knowledge to support peers and ultimately I feel I have learnt much to support my role as mental health lead”.

Due to this positive response and the high demand for this training, we are pleased to announce that we are extending this offer to allow more schools to take part. The training on offer to Opportunity Area schools is:
  • 2-hour Whole School Introduction to Mental Health Training (any education setting) – To help raise awareness amongst all staff of how mental health issues develop, how to spot the signs, and what you can do to support those going through trauma.
  • CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Children & Young People's Mental Health (any education setting including parents) – An accredited distance learning programme (equivalent to a GCSE) to provide a detailed understanding of mental health conditions, legislation, and the impact mental health concerns have on young people and others.
  • 3-day Mental Health Champions Training for designated staff (primary and secondary schools only) – A Train the Trainer programme to enable key members of staff to cascade training on specific mental health issues to other staff, including resources, clinical advice, and a 1-day refresher course after 12 months.
  • Level 4 Counselling Skills Training; Level 4 Counselling & Psychotherapy Skills Training or Level 4 Diploma in Counselling Skills (any education setting) – The opportunity for designated leads to access further training to enhance their knowledge of counselling based on a training needs analysis.
For more information about this training, please email Please note that the deadline to sign up to this offer is 30 June.

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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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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.

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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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