Bradford Opportunity Area plan is launched

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Ambitious plans to raise education standards and promote social mobility for young people in Bradford, have been announced.

Bradford is to receive more than £11m Government funding as an Opportunity Area to help deliver a new plan of action.

This work will focus on four priority areas:

  • Strengthening school leadership and the quality of teaching.
  • Improving literacy in primary schools.
  • Broadening aspirations and support young people in to rewarding careers.
  • Using evidence-based research to remove barriers to learning.

Targeted plans include investing in literacy projects, careers education and advice and additional support for vulnerable young people across the city, as well as boosting career development for school leaders and teachers.

The Opportunity Area programme will be delivered by a partnership between the Department for Education and Bradford Council.

The new plan has been developed by a partnership board with representatives from Bradford schools, the council, charities and the private sector.

Bradford is one of 12 Opportunity Areas across the country which are each receiving a £6m share of £72 million to improve opportunities for young people.

The district will also benefit from investment of up to £5 million over two years through the Essential Life Skills programme, to help disadvantaged young people develop life skills such as resilience, emotional wellbeing and employability.

As part of the Opportunity Area programme a Research School has been opened in Bradford, being run by Dixons Academies, which will work to share evidence-based research of what works in the classroom to help raise standards across the district.

Research schools are being supported by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Institute for Effective Education to act as local centres of excellence in Opportunity Areas.

Michael Jameson, Bradford Council’s Strategic Director for Children’s Services and Opportunity Area board member said: "The launch of today's plans is very good news for Bradford.

"As an Opportunity Area, Bradford is set to benefit from major investment to boost social mobility. This is now matched by detailed plans of action which will help to raise standards and improve results in our schools, support the recruitment, retention and development of our teachers and improve the life chances and career opportunities of our young people. By working together the district can make a real difference in promoting social mobility in Bradford."

Coun Imran Khan, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Education, Employment and Skills said: "This is an exciting and innovative plan which can make a real difference to the lives of young people in Bradford. Promoting social mobility in the district is very important. We want children growing up in Bradford to access the best possible education to open up opportunities for them for the rest of their lives. This plan is about supporting pupils and teachers and helping young people into careers. It  has been developed by people working in Bradford who are best placed to identify the challenges we face and I am looking forward to seeing the results of this work benefitting our young people."

Anne-Marie Canning, the Chair of Bradford Opportunity Area Partnership Board, said: "We achieve more for our young people by working together. Education transformed my life so I want the Opportunity Area to give Bradford’s children the high quality education they deserve.

"We have set out an ambitious plan, matched by the strength of our partnership. The Opportunity Area board brings together the best head teachers, world-leading researchers, local, regional and national government as well as business and community organisations from across the city and beyond. We are committed to making this plan a success."

Bradford Opportunity Area Priorities

Strengthening school leadership and the quality of teaching

The plan will support improvement in school leadership, allowing at least 50 head teachers, senior and middle leaders to complete leadership courses, and launching an enhanced offer of leadership masterclasses. The plan aims to support improvement in the Ofsted ratings of at least half of the schools in Bradford currently rated 'requires improvement' or 'inadequate'.

Improve literacy in the primary sector

The work will build on the investment already being made in early reading skills by funding training programmes in Bradford, beginning this year with the 10 primary schools furthest below the national average for reading and writing. Over the life of the programme, secondary and post-16 literacy will also be supported in consultation with local employers and universities to make sure young people are better prepared for the world of work.

Broaden aspirations and support young people in to rewarding careers

Efforts will be targeted at 11 to 18 year olds to ensure each benefits from at least four high quality encounters with the world of work. The National Citizen Service (NCS) will triple the resources it makes available to young people in Bradford, to support 2,400 15 to 17 year olds by 2020.

Removing barriers to learning by developing evidence for what really works

Bradford is at the forefront of world-leading research on health and education. By the end of 2018, local partners including Bradford's EEF Research School, the 'Born in Bradford' cohort study and Bradford Council will be supporting teachers in at least 50 schools to identify and provide the right help to students at risk of social, emotional or mental health issues. Priorities will include early identification of autism and related disorders, as well as improving reading and writing.

The Plan can be read at



Published: 22/01/2018
Audience: All school staff and governors
Contact: John Roberts

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