Doncaster Opportunity Area Newsletter

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


Since the previous newsletter, work has been pressing ahead to shape the content of the Doncaster Opportunity Area Delivery Plan.  As shown by the first 6 Opportunity Areas, the Delivery Plan is a detailed and comprehensive document which guides the activity across the three year programme.  A high level of importance is therefore placed upon the planning stages, to ensure that the plan is based upon evidence of need, is produced with local partners, and structured with clear objectives and measures of success that can be assessed throughout the life of the programme.

Further to its cycle of monthly meetings, the Opportunity Area Partnership Board (OAPB) held an additional meeting in November to focus on reviewing the progress of the draft Delivery Plan and providing feedback from across the partnership.  Ongoing contact between the Department for Education (DfE) and the OAPB members remains a priority to ensure that progress and review continues between the cycle of board meetings.

The operational structure of the Opportunity Area programme is also developing, with working groups for each of the 4 emerging priorities now formally established and meeting on a regular basis.  The working groups contribute to the programme at a more granular and focussed level, with membership including expertise and distributed leadership specific to each priority.  They have a particular emphasis on refining the data, evidence and local intelligence for the priorities, and feed into the OAPB to ensure that this is reflected within the overall Delivery Plan. The working groups will continue to support the OAPB as the programme moves into delivery phase.  

Opportunity Area Programme Manager

In mid-November, Robin MacNeill was appointed as the Opportunity Area Programme Manager for Doncaster. Robin’s background is in the Civil Service, most recently in the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the DfE. He’s held a range of programme and project management positions and has spent the last 7 years working on further education, analysis, policy and strategy. 
Robin comes to us having spent a year working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, developing stronger relationships with the local Further Education sector to help deliver the Combined Authority’s employment and skills agenda, including their ambitions around inclusive growth and social mobility.

Robin will work alongside the existing DfE team, providing dedicated programme management for the Doncaster Opportunity Area and will focus on ensuring that the delivery plan is implemented in full, and that the OAPB spends Doncaster’s share of the £72m effectively and efficiently.  Robin will be meeting with the OAPB, working groups and wider partners, however, if you would like to get in touch with him or ask any questions, please feel welcome to contact him directly.

Doncaster’s Opportunity Area underpinning themes

As experienced by other Opportunity Areas, the initial ‘problem diagnosis’ stage, along with ongoing stakeholder engagement, has not only resulted in a number of emerging priorities but also a number of underpinning themes affecting levels of social mobility which are bespoke to each place.

The confirmed priorities for Doncaster are:
  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
In addition, the following underpinning themes to support the priorities have also now been identified:

Collaboration - Doncaster is a large, diverse borough with a range of institutions and partners, therefore collaboration and working together is crucial to have a lasting impact on improving social mobility.

Recruiting Quality Teachers - quality teaching is specifically linked to at least two, if not all, of the 4 emerging priorities. Attracting and retaining great teachers is vital to improving the educational outcomes and social mobility of Doncaster’s young people.

Further detail around the activities associated with each of the priorities and underpinning themes will be available in the Doncaster Delivery Plan, which will be released at the beginning of 2018.

Other news

On 2nd November 2017, Education Secretary, Justine Greening, opened the Institute for Teaching (IfT), a new provider of high quality training for teachers at all stages of their careers.  The government’s funding for the IfT is aimed to support its overall investment in building an education system that creates clear and rewarding career pathways for those entering and progressing in a teaching career.  The IfT will operate mainly in the North and Central England, with a particular focus on the Opportunity Areas.  This development is pertinent to at least two of the priorities for Doncaster’s Opportunity Area programme, and links directly to its underpinning theme of recruiting quality teachers.

Doncaster’s schools will also have access to around 200 fully funded National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), which the DfE has secured external providers to design, deliver and assess.  These qualifications will develop knowledge, skills and leadership behaviours, with a large proportion of places prioritised for teachers within the Opportunity Areas. This will feed into the improvement of teaching and learning in Doncaster, benefitting pupils studying in the borough, and also attracting teachers to work and develop in Doncaster’s schools.

Also, on 16th and 17th November, the Leadership Conference for the Partners in Learning (PiL) Teaching School Alliance took place, with its focus on Leading for Better Social Mobility: Making a Difference for Doncaster.   The event was well attended, with delegates hearing from a range of keynote speakers including: Sarah Lewis, Deputy Director of the Opportunity Areas programme in DfE; Professor Chris Husbands, Chair of the OAPB; PiL; and Stephen Fraser from the Education Endowment Foundation. The event raised the profile of social mobility in Doncaster and the surrounding areas. 

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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