Doncaster Opportunity Area Newsletter

Welcome to the October edition of the Doncaster Opportunity Area Newsletter. 


Within September’s newsletter, details of Doncaster’s emerging priorities as an Opportunity Area were shared.   Further refinement is ongoing through consultation with stakeholders and the Opportunity Area Partnership Board, with membership details available here.

The priorities for Doncaster (subject to final revisions) currently fall within the following categories:
  1. Building solid foundations in numeracy and literacy for disadvantaged children in Doncaster quality of teaching and learning at primary school
  2. Brilliant teaching and leadership for all secondary pupils secondary school improvement (with a particular focus on teacher recruitment and retention)
  3. No career out of bounds post-16 pathways and careers information, advice & guidance: allow young people to make informed choices about their careers
  4. Making sure opportunities extend to all support aspiration and ambition, while building character and resilience in all of Doncaster’s children and young people, including the more vulnerable children and those with high rates of exclusions
These priorities are rooted in the findings from the initial ‘problem diagnosis’ stage of data analysis, feedback from stakeholders during events and visits, and input from the Opportunity Area Partnership Board. 

The priorities also incorporate the findings from meetings with youth groups and young people, including the consultation event held at The Dome on 7th October, which was attended by 100 young people, parents and guardians.  A number of important issues were raised, including: the lack of structured careers, information, advice and guidance across the borough, the quality of teaching in schools, and the style of lessons. These issues were raised multiple times by young people of different age groups.  Many thanks to everyone who attended or helped to raise awareness of this event.


What’s next

The Department for Education (DfE) will continue working closely with the Opportunity Area Partnership Board over the coming weeks to ensure that the final priorities address the barriers to social mobility in Doncaster.  The Partnership Board will also meet to approve Doncaster’s Opportunity Area Delivery Plan, which will outline the direction of the 3-year programme; governance and partnership arrangements (including continuing work with young people); and the activities and targets associated with each priority. The current aim is for the Doncaster Opportunity Area Delivery Plan to be agreed by the Partnership Board within coming weeks and published in January 2018 – around the first anniversary of Doncaster being designated an Opportunity Area. 

Alongside the input from the Partnership Board, the DfE will also facilitate subgroup meetings to bring in additional expertise from a wider range of stakeholders.  The subgroups will work with more granular detail, keeping a keen eye on the target groups/cohorts and activities and outcomes for each priority.  Each subgroup will feed into the Partnership Board, which will continue to provide over-arching governance throughout the duration of the programme.


The Delivery Plans for the first 6 Opportunity Areas were published by the DfE on 9th October and although bespoke to each area, can be viewed here to help provide an indication of the type of format expected for Doncaster.

Each Delivery Plan follows a similar structure, with content adapted to the strengths, needs and future plans for each place. Between 3 or 4 priorities are listed for each Opportunity Area, ranging broadly across the following themes: school professional development/leadership; attendance/exclusions; Early Years (Good Level of Development); childhood experiences; career information, advice & guidance; and transitions to adulthood & work. 

As indicated in September’s newsletter, a launch event will be organised to share the Doncaster Delivery Plan with local stakeholders once published. Further details will be included within a future newsletter. 

Additional funding announcements

The DfE announced on 9th October that £22million will be shared among the 12 Opportunity Areas through a new Essential Life Skills programme.  This programme aims to help disadvantaged young people have access to the same opportunities as those in the top-performing schools and develop wider skills such as resilience, emotional wellbeing and employability. The funding will be used to enable children and young people aged 5-18 years old to participate in regular extra-curricular activities such as sports, volunteering and social action projects. There will specific criteria for funding activities, including a focus on equality, accessibility and sustainability. It is expected that the borough will be allocated approximately £2.75million from this funding stream, offering significant additional benefits for Doncaster’s children and young people. Further detail will be available within the Doncaster Delivery Plan.
Also, the Multi-academy Trust (MAT) Development and Improvement Fund (MDIF) was announced by the DfE on 14th October.   This funding will be prioritised to MATs supporting the Opportunity Areas and will be used to improve schools and social mobility.  Grants ranging between £50-100K can be awarded by the Regional Schools Commissioner, where eligibility criteria is met.
The above funding streams are in addition to the £6million already allocated to each Opportunity Area, or other funding announcements mentioned in previous newsletters.  This supports the growing commitment and focus from government to improve social mobility, utilising new and existing resources to tilt-into the Opportunity Areas where increased support is needed the most. 

And finally…

Thank you for reading Doncaster’s latest Opportunity Area developments. 

You can also access previous newsletters here, follow us on Twitter, ask us a question or forward the newsletter to a friend (use below buttons).

This newsletter has been sent to stakeholders that might be interested in the Opportunity Area programme, or have attended previous information events. 

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Doncaster Council · Civic Office · Waterdale · Doncaster, Dnc DN1 3BU · United Kingdom

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