Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area

Newsletter 30 April 2021

Message from our Chair

This month we are pleased to share some positive feedback from 20Twenty Productions, which has been running the Youth Advisory Boards in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. As an Opportunity Area (OA), we are very keen to capture the youth voice and gain an insight into the priorities for young people post-Covid and in the future. The Youth Advisory Boards are helping us to do just that. We are also keen to encourage everyone to share good news stories so please do not hesitate to contact the team to let them know if you have any.

I also want to take this opportunity to say good luck to Jacquie Woodcock who is moving on from leading the OA’s School Improvement Programme to take on a new role as Steps and Trauma Informed Lead within the Cambridgeshire County Council SEND team. Many of you will have worked directly with Jacquie and I know you will want to join me in thanking her for sharing her considerable expertise and wisdom, and for her commitment to adopting a place-based approach to supporting the schools and settings she has worked with. Wisdom may not be measurable and it doesn’t appear in league tables but Jacquie possesses it in abundance!

Life does not stand still with regard to the OA programme. You will see from the newsletter that there is a lot going on. Please continue to visit our website for the latest updates. If you have any queries, please contact the OA team on

With best wishes,

Tricia Pritchard


In this newsletter:

Opportunity Area Updates

Upcoming Events

We have a number of events coming up so save these dates in your diary:

  • OA Celebration Event: Monday 12 July (time/venue/online TBC)
  • Year 5 Launch Events:
    • Monday 24 May, 1:30–3:00 p.m. – for early years settings/childminders
    • Monday 7 June, 9:30–11:00 a.m. – for schools
    • Tuesday 8 June, 3:00–4:30 p.m. – for schools
    • Tuesday 22 June, 3:00–4:30 p.m. – for OA partners
    • Thursday 24 June, 6:30–8:00 p.m. – for early years settings/childminders
Further details will be released nearer the time, so please keep an eye out for updates in your inbox!

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Call for OA Advocates – Headteachers and EY Setting Leads

We are looking for local headteachers and early years (EY) setting leads who may be interested in becoming advocates for the OA programme. If you would like to get involved, we would ask you to select an area of the programme which interests you most and in which you feel confident to share your experience and expertise.

The role would involve:

  • improving communication and information flows between the OA and school/EY setting leaders, including governors, by explaining the OA’s strategy for determining priorities and deploying resources, and receiving feedback on the support provided by the OA. 
  • acting as a ‘critical friend’ to the Programme Manager by providing support, challenge and feedback on the schools’/EY settings' priorities as they relate to the OA’s support strategy.
  • representing the OA at cluster headteacher meetings where appropriate.
  • meeting once every half term with other headteacher/EY setting lead advocates, the Programme Manager and the Chair of the Partnership Board.
We envisage capping the role to 5 hours per half term and would be happy to provide funding to support release time for any specific pieces of work.

If you are interested in becoming an OA advocate, please contact

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Call for Celebrations

We are really keen to celebrate the fantastic work that is taking place and having an impact on children and young people in the area. If you have a good news story, like the ones below, that you would like us to share with the OA network, please complete the OA Celebration Submission Form and email it to

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Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Celebration from 20Twenty Productions CIC:

To date, 52 young people from across Fenland have taken part, or are still taking part, in a ‘Cooking at Home’ project. This project supplies young people with all the ingredients for a total of seven main meals and seven desserts over a period of six weeks. The ingredients also come with recipe cards and some cooking utensils, an apron and oven gloves. The young people involved are from vulnerable families who have been accessing extra food during recent times so the project has been welcomed by the families.

The overall aim of the project is for young people to feel more confident in cooking a meal for their family, with a focus on healthy eating on a budget.

The meals include cola chicken, chilli pasta bake and chicken pie including home-made pastry. A range of desserts have been offered including bread and butter pudding and jam sponge and custard.

Young people have reported that both their cooking and multitasking skills have improved. Through the project, they learn to follow instructions and keep to time and they have been more open to trying new things.

Image description: Young person cooking a meal.

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Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Youth Advisory Boards

Celebration from 20Twenty Productions CIC:

The members of the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Youth Advisory Boards (YABs) have a joint focus on supporting children and families who are struggling with food poverty.

The YAB members are currently developing their own website, called the 'Digital Kitchen', and a social media campaign. Members are also planning their own conference. This will be held on Wednesday 11 August at the March Braza Club. The conference will be an opportunity for local influencers, particularly from local authorities, to hear directly from young people about how important the issue of food poverty is to them.

The YABs have continued to meet regularly and have welcomed new members over the last year. They have:

  • successfully obtained funding to provide pizza kits to families eligible for free school meals through the Winter Food and Fuel Grant.
  • funded digital devices for young people and craft resources for younger children during the initial Covid lockdown.
  • commissioned a mental health charity to work with them to create a mental health toolkit for launch in September 2021.

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SENDIASS Super Service

Celebration from SENDIASS:

SENDIASS provide families with information, advice and support in relation to children or young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). As a result of OA funding, SENDIASS are pleased to be able to offer parents and carers in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire the opportunity to access increased levels of support.

A parent who accessed support via one of the funded sessions and one-to-one support shared this feedback:

“My son’s EHCP was far better and much more clear after support from SENDIASS. The changes that were made also made it possible to get a better choice of education setting. My son is now the happiest he has been since the whole process was started... I am extremely grateful for the support that was given to us.”

Visit the SENDIASS website for more information about the service.

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Ongoing Opportunity Area Offers

SEMH Training from the YMCA

YMCA Trinity Group is continuing to run a wide range of funded social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) training for schools and EY settings. The training will be available online. Even if you have already taken part in this training, you can apply for courses you have yet to access.

The full list of courses is available to view in the YMCA SEMH Training application form. To apply, complete the application form and email it to by 30 June 2021. Please note, the contract has been extended until July 2021 but the funding is likely to run out long before then and is allocated on a first come first served basis.

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OA Webinar Series

The OA Webinar Series continues to offer a broad range of fully funded online workshops and resources.

This month, we particularly want to highlight the third session from Karin Horowitz: Resilience strategies to manage pressure and achieve school-life balance. This session will help attendees develop the skills of resilience and create a whole-school language and approach to managing pressures.

The session will be streamed live on the following dates:

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Teacher Training Information Event

The next online teacher training information event is taking place on Thursday 17 June, 6:00–7:00 p.m. on Zoom. This event forms part of the OA-funded One-to-one Teacher Training Support project. Please share this opportunity with your contacts who may be interested in training to teach.

The event will provide opportunities for attendees to learn about applying for teacher training, including:

  • The different routes to gaining Qualified Teacher Status
  • The qualifications needed for teacher training
  • The financial implications of teacher training
  • Answers to other questions you may have.
To register your interest, contact Sarah McGill via

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Additional Updates

The Big Ask

Dame Rachel De Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, is launching ‘The Big Ask’, the largest ever consultation with children undertaken in England. The survey is live until 19 May and asks children across England to set out their priorities for improving childhood post-Covid. The results from this survey will help the Children’s Commissioner identify the barriers preventing children from reaching their potential, put forward solutions and set ambitious goals for the country to achieve.

Children and young people can take part in the survey at

If you are a teacher, or work with children and young people there are lots of resources to support you implementing the survey with them. Watch Rachel De Souza introduce and explain the survey with the help of footballer Marcus Rashford.

Have a question? Find answers to common questions about The Big Ask.

To talk to the team behind the survey, email them at

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Teach First: Find New Teaching Talent

Teach First is a charity that develops and supports teachers and leaders to make a difference where it’s needed most. All schools in the OA are eligible to recruit talented trainee teachers through Teach First's Ofsted-rated 'Outstanding' training programme.

Partnering with Teach First means bringing world class training into your school. 82% of Teach First trainees stay in teaching beyond the initial two-year programme. After three years Teach First trainees are twice as likely to be teaching in low income areas as those from other training routes. 

Trainees are available for September 2021 in primary, English, maths, science, history, geography and modern foreign languages. The Teach First website has more information about its training programme and leadership programmes. To discuss your school's needs, contact:

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