Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area

Schools Newsletter 28 June 2019

Message from our Chair

One of my highlights of the last few weeks has been an invitation to present certificates to over 30 parents and staff from one primary school in the Opportunity Area, who completed the CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health course. This is a remarkable achievement especially as so many parents took advantage of the training. Another highlight has been attending a celebration event to congratulate 70 early years practitioners from across the Opportunity Area who have completed the phonics training. These are just two of the many initiatives that the Opportunity Area programme is funding. In this newsletter you will read of more and I encourage you to take advantage of what is on offer. In particular, please do make a note of the ‘Golden Thread Conference’ on 17 July when there will be an opportunity to share and celebrate some of the excellent educational research that is happening across the Opportunity Area.

As we come to the end of another academic year, we are mindful, that the programme is now entering into its third year. It is important that we continue to evaluate what is going well and why. Hence, we welcome your feedback. The programme is about support and change. It is about overcoming barriers to learning. It is about building capacity into the system to allow things to happen and this is where we hope to identify champions to continue to develop the 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 as they would be delighted to speak with you about how your school can benefit.


Tricia Pritchard


In this newsletter:

Local Feedback

We recently attended a fantastic celebratory event at the Rackham C of E Primary School, where certificates were presented to 31 parents and 5 staff members who had recently completed the Opportunity Area-funded CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Children and Young People's Mental Health course delivered by the YMCA Trinity Group. It was great to hear about the positive impact that the Opportunity Area has had on staff, pupils and parents.

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The Golden Thread Conference – Attention EBF and NPQ Participants

There is now less than one month to go until The Golden Thread Conference, an event that will showcase and celebrate some of the excellent educational research projects being conducted across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. Spaces are limited so we encourage you to sign up today to reserve your place! We are especially keen to hear from National Professional Qualification (NPQ) and Evidence Based Fund (EBF) 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 or EBF project, please register now, or contact More information and details on how to register are available here.

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Pinpoint SEND Parent Carer Support

Pinpoint is delighted to be launching a range of new SEND information workshops and drop in sessions across East Cambridgeshire and Fenland, starting in July. These sessions are free to parent carers and are fully funded through the Opportunity Area fund.

The workshops will cover a wide range of SEND topics throughout the year and will include a session where parent carers can stay on and chat or ask questions. In addition, there will be Tii Hubs popping up for an hour 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.

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 18-month programme.
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Inclusion Offer – SEND Reviews

Thank you to the schools that attended the SEND Review training on Monday 10 June and Monday 17 June, it was an incredibly thought provoking, reflective training day. Following on from this:
  • Please submit your completed SEND Review summary/action plan including the funding breakdown by 5:00 on Wednesday 17 July 2019.
  • Please submit your completed SEND Review summary/action plan in a Word format to
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Mental Health Support

If your school attended the Mental Health Champion Forums within your local area please ensure you submit your blueprint to by Thursday 11 July 2019. 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.

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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 at 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:
  • 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 should contact her directly: For more information about the local SENDIASS offer, including leaflets for families, please visit this website.

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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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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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Mental Health Training

The deadline to sign up for the YMCA Trinity Group's range of funded mental health training for schools and early years settings is fast approaching, on 30 June. 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”.

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

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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.

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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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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