Over the last few months we have worked collaboratively with our Partnership Board to agree our Year Four priorities, these are:
Priority 1: Building Solid Foundations for all Children
- Doncaster OA’s aim remains to narrow the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils in literacy and numeracy giving all children the strongest possible start to their schooling. In Year 4 we plan to focus activity on three key areas:
- A third year of a leadership programme designed by the EEF and our research school to improve local leadership capacity.
- Continuation of Doncaster participation in Challenge Partners, which brings national best practice into Doncaster and then applies it to local circumstances.
- A full programme focussed on the ‘stuck’ schools who need comprehensive support around emerging recovery priorities and entrenched challenges. As well as a ‘lighter touch’ programme of support to those schools who are on a rapid improvement journey.
Priority 2: Brilliant Teaching and Leadership for all Secondary School Pupils
- Our key ambition remains, we want more young people in good or outstanding schools, with more young people achieving good grades in core subjects.
- We will commission a delivery partner to deliver a school improvement project to priority schools, based on what we have learnt works well. Schools will propose improvement projects, some of which will be specifically recovery focused, and will be supported to turn these into high quality action plans.
- In peer groups, middle and senior leaders will be encouraged to work collaboratively, sharing best practice and learning from each other and from colleagues outside the borough (as in Good Practice Partnerships and peer reviews).
Priority 3: No Career out of Bounds
- We will continue to support the work of the Doncaster Careers Hub in delivering meaningful encounters and supporting schools to reach the eight Gatsby Benchmarks in high quality Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance. Our Careers Hub already shares best practice into the Sheffield City Region Education Advisor Network.
- We will continue to innovate in approaches to work-based learning in primary schools. Primary careers’ activity can innovate and raise aspiration to STEAM, HE and highly skilled careers, and is vital in combating heavily gendered and stereotypical career expectations.
- We will continue to support reform of the borough’s Post-16 provision and raising the numbers qualified to Level 3 in the borough. We are still committed to helping Doncaster deliver the recommendations of the Post-16 Review. Furthermore, the number of young people becoming NEET is likely to rise as a consequence of the pandemic and developing systems to support this group during this time is vital.
Priority 4: Opportunities Extend to All
- Our aim is to help the most vulnerable to access opportunities that will support them to succeed in and out of education and to go as far as their ability and ambition will take them. This priority will require us to continue to work effectively across multiple agencies to be truly effective.
- Building on lessons learned from previous delivery our focus is to support effective programmes that deal with the issues that can ultimately lead to students disengaging with the education process. In Year 4 we plan to focus activity on the following key areas:
- Continuing to develop and implement more effective transition strategies to support children as they move from primary to secondary learning.
- Creating a network of support by providing a targeted programme of mentoring provision to those most vulnerable students.
- Encouraging greater parental engagement by supporting initiatives that will provide targeted support to the families of those children who are at most risk of falling out of the education system.
- Building further capacity and consistency in meeting the needs of SEND students through continued support of the SEND peer review programme.
- Helping to create a culture of trauma informed practice among Doncaster’s schools by providing relevant training to practitioners that will in turn be cascaded to teaching staff.
Cross-Cutting: Teacher Recruitment and Retention
- The OA aims to provide support to assist schools with reduced capacity to continue to support recruitment and retention initiatives and to create and enhance links with regional teacher training institutions to encourage more NQTs to apply to teach in Doncaster.
Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Chair of Doncaster Opportunity Area Board, said “I welcome the Government’s extension of funding for the Opportunity Areas programme. At this particular moment, when regional disparities will be laid bare by the social and economic impacts of Covid-19, we must step up the work to remove barriers and help all children and young people, wherever they are born and whatever their circumstances, to reach their full potential. I am particularly pleased to see specific funding ring-fenced to support ‘twinned’ places, an initiative that has been gaining momentum in Doncaster, as we have worked hard to develop links across the Sheffield City Region in the last 12 months”