Bradford Opportunity Area: update and next steps

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Our delivery plan set out four priorities, backed by over £11m of new DfE funding. This update confirms what we’ve done so far, and what’s next.

In January, the Secretary of State for Education published our delivery plan for Bradford. The plan was developed by our local partnership board. The board brings together local education providers, voluntary sector education and community organisations, employers, DfE and Bradford Council. The board is led by our independent chair, Anne-Marie Canning MBE, Director of Social Mobility and Student Success at Kings College, London.

Our delivery plan set out four priorities, backed by over £11m of new DfE funding. This update confirms what we’ve done so far, and what’s next.

If you’re interested in, or have any questions, ideas or concerns about the work we’re doing or plan to do, please email us at You can also tweet us @BradfordOppArea.

Important: the OA team will be available over the summer, and would love to hear from you if you have ideas or questions. But, we will not be making any key decisions, so you can take a break without worrying about missing out.

Priority 1 - strengthening school leadership and the quality of teaching.

What have we done?

  • Launched our system-led school support programme: at least £1.5m of improvement support will be offered to leaders of schools facing the greatest challenges. The programme will reach at least 25 schools. The process is led by the Opportunity Area, Local Authority and Regional Schools Commissioner, working together in partnership.
  • 6 schools have already been matched to local system leaders as part of a trial run. Planning is underway in four and scheduled to start after the summer in two more.
  • Seven primary schools accessing fully funded support to improve literacy
  • An enhanced offer of training and development for Bradford’s school leaders and teachers: over 200 professionals now working towards fully funded National Professional Qualifications in middle, senior and executive leadership.

What’s’ next?

  • Another 20 schools assigned system leader support by end-March 2019 (10 each term).
  • Growing our team of system leaders to bring in more of the best governors and senior leaders.
  • Appointing an independent ‘lead broker’ to oversee the process.
  • Up to £500,000 more to purchase expert support to primary schools, on literacy and oracy.
  • Continuing the fully funded NPQ offer
  • Delivery of an OA-funded programme of coaching, mentoring and masterclasses for head teachers new to the role or the city. To be delivered by two consortia bringing together our strongest teaching schools and school leaders.
  • Going out to tender, to extend the excellent work done by Bradford for Teaching, through the current partnership between Bradford Council and Northern Lights, to bring more of the best teachers and leaders to the city, and help Bradford grow more of its own.

Our working group for Priority 1 is led by Councillor Imran Khan, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Education

Priority 2: parents and place; literacy and learning

What have we done?

  • We have already supported Bradford’s Literature Festival, including sponsoring outreach work to schools and a range of family and learning activities.
  • Our partnership board recognises the need to keep investing in parents and families as key to children’s attitudes to learning, choices and outcomes. In June, the board committed up to £500,000 to trial community and school-led work in three localities, to give parents the confidence and skills to help their children succeed. The trials will run in Keighley, in and around the Holmewood Estate, and the Eccleshill and Idle areas. Each area will develop its own plan to improve parental engagement and skills, including identifying and supporting local champions – parents, teachers and others who are already at the forefront of this work - to promote the project and share ideas.

What’s next?

  • Going to tender for community engagement organisations with experience in working with parents and schools.
  • Work with parents and schools in these areas, as well as local stakeholders, to start planning, including identifying potential champions.
  • We expect each area to be ‘in delivery’ by January 2019.

Our working group for Priority 2 is led by Adeeba Malik CBE, Deputy Chief Executive of the QED Foundation.

Priority 3: access to rewarding careers

What have we done?

  • Committed over £4m in grants to schools across Bradford, to run or buy in extra-curricular activities that build ‘Essential Life Skills’. A total of 628 activities are now available for children and young people aged 5-18, across the district.
  • Supported just under 21,000 young people aged 13-18 to access ‘meaningful encounters’ with employers, through the Careers and Enterprise Company’s work to link schools and employers. This builds on and complements the work of Bradford’s Covenant and the Industrial Centres of Excellence, already working with schools and thousands of young people across the district.
  • Nearly 1500 young people taking part in activities and social action through the National Citizens Service.

What’s next?

  • We will be making further, large scale investments in our second year of Essential Life Skills activity, following evidence on what works.
  • We will be opening a fund to support projects developed by and for young people, to improve access to careers and further/higher learning.
  • Our first 15 ‘Youth Inspectors’ are in place, trained and will be speaking to young people about their experience of Essential Life Skills. Our inspectors are aiming to speak to at least 1500 young people over the life of the OA.
  • With the Careers and Enterprise Company, we will make available fully funded training for Careers Leaders in every secondary school, as well as support to help secondary schools achieve the Gatsby benchmarks.
  • Working with Bradford Pathways and the Covenant, we will run networking events for primary schools and employers, as well as setting up a fund to help embed high quality careers learning in primary.
  • We are supporting local employers to offer 12 summer internships, all paid at living wage rates.

Our working group for Priority 3 is led by Sue Cooke, Executive Head of  Economic Services, West Yorkshire Combined Authority / Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

Priority 4: Removing health barriers to learning

What have we done?

  • ‘Born in Bradford’ is Europe’s largest longitudinal cohort study. Now in its 10th year, it is producing a rapidly growing body of evidence on how children’s experiences in health, education and social care interact and affect their longer term outcomes. This evidence is now enabling radical improvements in early identification of conditions that limit learning, ranging from autism, to poor eyesight, to early motor functions. This is just one example of a recent project.
  • The Opportunity Area has committed just under £1m to establish a Centre for Applied Educational Research (CAER) to extend and broaden the research. It will, crucially, also drive work to communicate and embed improved practice and new tools for teachers, health professionals and others supporting children and families.

What’s next?

  • Consulting Bradford’s school leaders on the issues the CAER should prioritise, based on the greatest challenges facing teachers, pupils and families.
  • Through the CAER and with the support of the Research School, we will begin producing guidance and support for every school in Bradford to transform practice in meeting the needs of children with health issues, and improving children’s health. This is a vital step in realising Bradford’s ambition to become a city of research, and will put the district at the forefront of 21st century education.

Our working group for Priority 4 is led by Michael Jameson, Strategic Director for Children’s Services, Bradford Council.


Published: 25/07/2018
Audience: Headteachers and teachers and all school staff
Contact: Kathryn Loftus

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