Spring Into Action

Over the last few months the Opportunity Area Partnership Board have approved a number of new OA projects. Including, awarding the Research School funding to deliver two key programmes in 2018/19; Leading Learning: Develop an Evidence-Informed CPD Approach and Effective Use and Evaluation of the Pupil Premium. The Research School will also be supporting Derby’s schools in 2019/20.
The board discussed an opportunity to secure Arts Council funding for the city over the next three years, which would help to sustain its ‘This is Derby’ activity and approved a proposal to support students transitioning between primary and secondary schools, more details of both programmes are given below.
We’re pleased to announce that the Board also approved the new Derby OA logo. The winning entry in the design competition came from Ravensdale Junior ScFinal logo JPGhool and has been digitised by a student from the University of Derby. For a copy of the logo please email Derby.OppArea@Education.gov.uk
There’s been a lot of activity on our Emotionally Healthy Schools Project recently and training has now begun for Designated School Leads for Mental Health (DSLMH). 94 schools have signed up to the programme and 44 have already have started their DSLMH training. Thanks to all schools who provided input into the web portal consultation. A service specification has now been drafted in line with the findings of the consultation and will go out to tender in the near future.
The OA transitions working group has developed city-wide transition arrangements for Year 6 pupils moving into Year 7 in 2019, including common transfer days, improved information sharing and support for vulnerable students. With the purpose of beginning the important dialogue between primary and secondary schools, a transitions information exchange event took place on Thursday 4th April. 400+ students so far have completed the Year 7 survey of their transfer experience. Responses are providing a wealth of valuable information and will ensure that the student voice shapes the work.
We’re also working on improving the recruitment and retention of teachers in Derby’s schools. Over 100 interviews took place recently for this year’s Derby NQT Pool, with over 70 trainees now looking to start careers as teachers in Derby. Further interviews will be taking place in March which may add more candidates into the pool. The Board also recently approved funding for a new recruitment and retention project, Teach Derby, which will be starting later in the year.
The Family Engagement (FE) Next Steps Careers Fair in Normanton on 28th February was a resounding success. There was a great turnout of over 100 young people and their families. Employers ranged from the Police and Fire Service, to Rolls Royce and Bombardier, all providing information on career pathways and apprenticeships. Primary FE activity continues with a full day event held on 2nd April, for all primary school FE leads participating in this OA project. This networking event provided an opportunity to share good practice with the aim of creating a shared vision across the city that will lead to increased engagement between schools, families and local communities.
Through the Essential Life Skills programme, we allocated £1m of funding to schools across Derby, based on a pupil premium formula, to delivery activity to support the development of skills such as confidence, resilience and teamwork. Schools have told us about the fantastic range of Essential Life Skills work underway across the city, So far over 860 sessions have been delivered to 4,023 students. 1565 (39%) of these were eligible for pupil premium.
In addition to schools funding, the ELS programme awarded £1m of funding to Derby County Community Trust to lead a consortium of sport, art and culture organisations to deliver ELS activity to young people across Derby, focusing in nine specific wards, with an additional hub targeted at children and young people who attend special schools. Over 1,600 children and young people have engaged and activities over the last month and activity will continue for the remainder of this academic year. For information on activities happening in your area please email Derby.OppArea@education.gov.uk.

Sinfonia Viva bring ‘This Is Derby’ to the cities SEN schools.

Written by Marianne Barraclough, Education Manager at Sinfonia Viva and Sarah Gelsthorpe, Senior Leader at St. Clare’s SEN Secondary School.

We are thrilled to be part of Derby Opportunity Area’s ‘This Is Derby’ Essential Life Skills partnership project and particularly delighted to be coordinating the cultural and sports offer in the SEND schools in the city.

Since October 2018 we have been working creatively with Ivy House, Royal School for the Deaf Derby, St Andrew’s, St Clare’s, St Giles and St Martins schools, as well as Royal Derby Hospital.

Sessions have ranged from one off drop in sessions on the wards at the hospital, initial launch sessions in some of the schools, to longer projects involving young people creating and performing their own new music, and has seen the establishment of NoteMade – an afterschool band at St Martins school. To date we have been working in individual schools and over the next few months we will start bringing groups from the different SEND settings together to make a massed ensemble.

Already we have seen young people working really effectively together to make new music, and in some cases to overcome significant nerves to perform their own new songs to an audience.  One young person we worked with barely spoke at all in the first session we had but over time she built the confidence to share her ideas, and in our final session of the Autumn term, she sang a solo, supported by her peers, to the rest of her school.

Schools have noted new reactions from young people and have shared case studies of the impact of the work on their young people.

“Student A has grown in confidence and shown improved self-esteem and belief in herself. Student A felt special and talented and thus gained a sense of pride from working with Sinfonia Viva that she will carry forward throughout the remaining part of her school experience.” – Ruth Webber, St Clare’s School

Students have had the opportunity to express themselves creatively in a variety of ways, with artists and coaches alike truly taking their lead from the young people.

“I have had an overwhelming response from staff saying how fantastic it was for the children and how much they got from it!  It was pitched perfectly and in response to this their motivation and interaction levels were high!” – Kelly Webster, St Giles School

We have worked with young people who are natural leaders, and will encourage them to develop and utilise these skills as we continue working with them.

As well as developing work and relationships with the young people, This is Derby is bringing together staff from each of the schools to share, plan and reflect together, meaning we can incorporate their thoughts and ideas, and those of the young people, into the development of a collaborative plan for future work in the hub.  This has led to the development of some hugely exciting plans, to bring students from each of the schools together to share some large scale experiences. The young people will be working with Hubbub Theatre Company, QUAD and Sinfonia Viva over the next few months to create exciting new music, movement and visuals which they can share with each other and come together to perform.

The young people from the SEND schools in Derby consistently inspire us to do more and we are delighted to be working with them, and to be able to showcase their incredible creativity with the rest of the city.


Sinfonia Viva at St Clares

When year 10 were told that they would be participating in a music workshop over several weeks with Sinfonia Viva there were the expected mixed responses. Some pupils were anxious about working with new people, others were concerned about using their own voices in front of others, some pupils were simply disinterested in the ‘type’ of music that Sinfonia Viva appeared to be about. “But Miss, I don’t like classical music” was a response that resounded throughout the classroom. My words cannot do justice to the changes that I witnessed in these children over the weeks that followed.

The music sessions were engaging and fun and very quickly even the most reluctant pupils were joining in. The musical instruments that were played were a delight to listen to, with children talking about ‘feeling’ the music in later conversations. This is significant; at St. Clare’s we place great emphasis on developing our students’ ability to recognise and express their feelings and emotions.

The staff from Sinfonia Viva were not only talented musicians but were also patient, kind and empathetic people who were able to support and encourage our pupils with a real belief that they were absolutely capable of the tasks presented to them. The biggest reward for the children was the pleasure that they had in creating their own music. With professional musicians by their side they were able to create the most wonderful songs which they were proud to be part of. Being able to perform in front of others is, perhaps, one of the most difficult things that we ask of our pupils. Many adults would shy away from such a task. And yet, our year 10 pupils stood on the stage with their heads held high and performed for the entire school and they enjoyed it and were proud of their achievement.

The same previously reluctant children were disappointed that the sessions were over. Many now have a new-found respect for music, musical instruments and for musicians as well as a confidence in their own abilities to take part in something different. We are looking forward to working with Sinfonia Viva in the future and embedding these sessions in our curriculum.

New Year News

As we head into the New Year, Derby OA programmes are well underway and we’re starting to hear positive feedback from participating schools and the programme providers.
Work has started on the Secondary Family Engagement Programme and plans are in place this term for a number of schools to be involved in an English as an Additional Language Careers Fair and a Family Learning programme in the local community. Selected families will be invited to attend and work on engaging with the schools and their child’s learning journey. Funding has also been approved for the Primary Family Engagement programme with meetings underway to shape an action plan for the coming terms.
A Mobility Support Worker has now been recruited to support the Targeted Student Support work. She is based at Landau Forte College but will be spending a lot of time in schools with young people and their families to try and reduce the amount of students changing secondary placements during KS4.
All schools should now have received an email newsletter from the co-ordinator of the Emotionally Healthy Schools Programme. This newsletter outlines exciting opportunities for free training for designated mental health leads and the chance to help develop the online web portal.
The Primary Business Links proposal was approved by the OA board and is live on the council website. The tender seeks an organisation to work in partnership with primary schools to develop a programme of employer engagement and provide pupils with the opportunity to learn about the world of work. The application deadline is 3rd February: http://www.derby.gov.uk/education-and-learning/extra-curricular-activities/primary-business-links-grant-fund/
95% of eligible schools have taken up the offer of Essential Life Skills funding and many have already started to put the funding to good use. The Derby County Community Trust lead ELS programme, ‘This Is Derby’ kicked off last year, with activity set to ramp up over the coming months. The programme is being delivered across 10 hubs and provides pupils opportunity to develop life skills such as resilience and team work through sport, art and cultural activity.
Derby Research School have two leadership training opportunities available this term, which is free for participating schools:
• Leading Learning, which uses evidence based practice to enhance teaching and learning, and;
• Effective Use and Evaluation of the Pupil Premium, which provides a chance to develop, implement and review an evidence based high impact Pupil Premium strategy and framework
Lastly, The Secretary of State previously announced a new free website to advertise school vacancies. The website is now live here: http://www.teaching-vacancies.service.gov.uk and has been rolled out across the East Midlands and Humber.

To find out more information about any of the programmes in this update, or how to get involved, email Derby.OppArea@education.gov.uk.

There’s a host of activity happening over the coming year and we look forward to continuing work with partners to improve social mobility across Derby. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2019.

Winter Wrap Up

The Opportunity Area (OA) Partnership Board met in November to discuss and agree the priorities for the remainder of the OA programme. It was agreed that only those projects that align to the strategic priorities set out in the OA delivery plan and that will achieve greatest impact will be funded.

We are now inviting tenders for our TALK Derby programme. The tender process is broken down into four separate Lots: Lead Coordinating Organisation, Family Engagement, SLC Training Provider and Evaluation. TALK Derby will support and strengthen the development of speech, language and communication (SLC) skills in the early years. The deadline for tenders is 2 January and work will start shortly thereafter.

Ofsted recently published the percentage of childcare providers judged to be good or outstanding as of 31st August 2018. Derby is 13th best nationally with 98% of our childcare providers judged to be good or better compared with 94.5% nationally. This is a great credit to the fantastic work being done by childminders, settings and schools

Almost every secondary and special school and the over ¾ of primary schools responded to the Transition Survey early this month. Key decisions that were strongly supported by the survey responses include:
• 2019 Common Transfer Day for all schools – Tuesday 2nd July 2019
• Transfer Information Exchange Event – An event all schools to discuss the specific needs of key Y6 pupils moving to Y7 and share critical information to support their smooth transition. Dates TBC
• Best piece of independent writing – every Y6 child to take a piece of written work into Y7 which will be used to establish minimum expectations for standards in Y7
• A move to three common transfer days in 2020
• Additionally, a new Working Group has been commissioned to support improvements in the transition of ‘vulnerable students’ as they leave Y11.

70% of children in the foundation stage achieved a good level of development in 2018 compared with 72% nationally, the gap to national was 6% in 2015. This now places Derby at 113th of 152, up from 138th in 2015.

When looking at specific pupil characteristics, the achievements are even more pronounced:
– 35% of Derby’s children on SEN support in the foundation stage achieved a good level of development, compared to 28% nationally placing Derby as 12th best achieving nationally.
– 61% of Derby’s FSM children in the foundation stage achieved a good level of development, compared to 57% nationally and this places Derby as the 30th best achieving nationally.
– 64% of Derby’s EAL children in the foundation stage achieved a good level of development, compared to 66% nationally placing Derby as the 73rd best achieving nationally.

Our Derby SEND Peer Challenge programme continues to roll-out across the city, schools involved so far have welcomed the reviews as valuable and worthwhile. This programme continues through this school year and next and there are still opportunities to get involved as a peer reviewer or ‘Challenger’ aimed at Heads, SLT or SENCOs and a financial contribution is made towards backfill costs. To get involved please email Debbie Gerring at St Martins who is co-ordinating places at forthcoming training: d.gerring@stmartins.derby.sch.uk.

As we head into the New Year we are looking forward to start work on a number of our key OA projects, including Emotionally Healthy Schools, Family Engagement, Targeted Student Support, Primary Business Links and New to English/GRT.

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas break.

Phonics at Rosehill

Written by Helen Kelk, Headteacher of Rosehill Infant School
I am extremely proud to be writing a blog about our school to celebrate our achievement in phonics last academic year where we achieved 82% and matched the national average.
Our school is an inner city infant and nursery school. 96% of pupils come from minority ethnic backgrounds. The number of languages spoken within our school community has remained high with 31 languages spoken in September 2018 (27 in February 2018). The School Deprivation Indicator is consistently very high and above National, and this is reflective of the community we are proud to serve.
Our phonics data had been on a downwards trend for the past three years, with only 68% of the year 1 children passing in 2017. To improve the teaching of phonics, we applied to be part of the Derby City PSG phonics programme which helped us identify our strengths and weaknesses in school and gave us continual support through network meetings, external staff training and bespoke in school training. It is a partnership programme led by Derby Early Years Teaching School, an independent literacy consultant and a Local Authority assessment lead sharing expertise and on hand to offer guidance and support. We were assigned an SLE in phonics who carried out a whole school phonics 360 review and delivered phonics training to ensure effective practice throughout school.
Working in collaboration with my senior leadership team, we prioritised phonics in our school development plan and firmly believed that the best way forward was to have a balanced approach to reading and writing in school. Phonics is an essential strategy in learning to read and spell now closely follow Letters and Sounds as our tool for teaching phonics systematically and ensure continuity and consistency of phonics teaching throughout the school.
As a school we strongly believe good phonics teaching happens when it is exciting, interactive and purposeful and children are actively engaged. We know that children retain their learning best when they have talked about it, investigated and experimented with it. At Rosehill, we ensure children are excited about ‘Phonics time’. The reading and writing of sentences to show the application of phonics is no longer just sitting on the carpet and writing sentences on whiteboards, but it is done through working together to build words and read and write fun, silly sentences. Application of phonics is also incorporated throughout all other areas of learning, particularly in guided reading; resulting in improved reading results. Children are taught to understand that phonics is important in every subject and they take pride in getting their spellings right no matter what subject they are learning. Book scrutinies and learning walks monitor the use of phonics to ensure application is taking place throughout the taught curriculum.
As a school, we are aware of the vital role parents play in their child’s education. To maximise the parental impact, we have engaged parents in a wide variety of school- led activities including interactive, hands on phonics workshops, family learning and class drop in where parents had the opportunity to watch teachers deliver phonics sessions. This allows them to have the confidence to support their child at home.
This year we continue to be part of the phonics programme to build on and embed our skills and knowledge. A member of the team has now been appointed as a LA phonics champion to support other schools in the Derby City PSG programme and share good practice as we continue our successful phonics journey.

Back to School

The Opportunity Area (OA) Partnership Board met in September to discuss progress so far against our priorities and plans for future activity to improve educational outcomes and life chances for Derby’s children and young people.

Feedback from our first wave of primary school programmes has been really positive and there has been improvement across all areas where we took action. On average, outcomes of those schools involved in our primary OA programmes, covering phonics, reading and maths at KS1 and KS2 have improved faster when compared to other schools. So we know we are making a difference. We will be running similar programmes in year 2, working with schools most in need of support.

Our speech, language and communication (SLC) pilots have also been positively received:

  • Outcomes for learners, both practitioners, leaders and teachers were particularly successful; with measurable improvements in confidence across a range of measures, including identifying and supporting children’s SLC needs, and supporting the SLC development of all children, as well as an increased range of strategies at their disposal for doing this, and a reported increase in their use.
  • Knowledge and confidence scores of practitioners across all groups showed significant improvements.
  • Improvements were also seen amongst parents, both in terms of their confidence and knowledge in supporting their child’s speech, language and communication development.

We are now working on next steps and plans for spreading these successful approaches across the city.

The percentage of children achieving the phonics standard at the age of 6 years has also increased to 82% in Derby (from just 64% in 2014). This means that we have achieved the national average in a key primary phase indicator and are now ranked 76th nationally (compared to 150th in 2014). Well done to all schools and to all involved at DEYTSA (Harrington) for their leadership of this work over these years.

At secondary, we also made some good progress in raising standards in Year 11 and we are now considering collaborative approaches to narrowing the maths and English attainment gaps for disadvantaged students in Derby.

We were delighted to be invited to the launch of THIS IS DERBY on 25 September, hosted at Pride Park by Derby County Community Trust, Derby’s Cultural Education Partnership & Derby Sport Forum. THIS IS DERBY, a significant part of Derby Opportunity Area’s Essential Life Skills programme, is an exciting and innovative new collaboration of arts, culture and sport, which aims to provide young people with the opportunity to develop their essential life skills, engage within their community and celebrate their talents and achievements. Find out more at:


As we head into the new academic year, we are looking forward to working with you to raise educational standards from early years, through school and beyond so we can provide every child and young person in Derby with the chance to reach their full potential in life, helping to make Derby a great place to grow up and thrive.


Summer is here

It feels like we have made a number of big steps forward since the spring. During 2017/18, we delivered a number of small-scale primary programmes, covering phonics, maths, reading and comprehension, and a programme on EAL leadership. Encouraging progress has been made in many of the participating schools. We will be running similar programmes in year 2 and targeted at similar numbers of schools.

At secondary, we have also delivered programmes in maths and English and are working closely with Chellaston Academy, helping to plan Chellaston’s strategic school improvement fund activity that will support secondary schools with maths and English throughout 2018/19.

The Board has approved three significant activities, which will start from the autumn term:

  • Targeted Student Support, aiming to reduce the number of school moves made by secondary students in years 10 & 11;
  • Family Engagement programme to support families who find it hard to engage with their child’s education, starting with secondary schools; and
  • Emotionally Health Schools, a proposal aligned to the mental health green paper to support school leaders to develop policies and supportive environments conducive to positive emotional well-being.

We have allocated our Essential Life Skills funding, including a large grant to a consortium led by Derby County Community Trust, a number of small grants to providers working with Derby’s schools and schools, academies and Derby College have been notified of their Essential Life Skills allocations.

We have also awarded a number of collaborative science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) grants, which will deliver a range of activities that help schools and learning providers to improve outcomes for STEAM.

Our SEND peer review pilots have been succesful and we will be rolling out the peer review programme from the autumn term.

The OA Board has seen some changes and we are delighted to welcome three new appointments, Angela O’Brien, Debbie Gerring and Simon Carnall.

We would like to wish everyone across the city, especially those working with Derby’s children and young people, a relaxing and enjoyable summer break!

Derby OA Board activity

The Opportunity Area Partnership Board met on 7 June to discuss a number of proposals for new activity in the city.

The Board approved funding for a new 2-year scheme of Targeted Student Support, aiming to reduce the number of school moves made by secondary students in KS4. Students who change schools during these critical years have some of the worst outcomes in our school system, and we want to help them either to “stay put” or to make the transition successfully. The programme will include mentoring, support for transition and induction, and stronger protocols between schools so that the best solution can be found for each student. Landau Forte College will be co-ordinating the development and delivery of this programme for secondary schools.

Funding was also agreed for a 2-year Family Engagement programme. Parents and families are a vital support for pupils and we want to support families who find it hard to engage with their child’s education, starting with secondary schools. Building on the success of recent pilots, the heart of the programme will be community-based education events which will take place in local community venues with translation and other support on offer. At the same time we will launch a local media campaign to provide information about education in Derby in a number of languages, encouraging parents to get more involved. Bemrose School will be co-ordinating the development and delivery of this programme for secondary schools. The OA Board is keen to develop a similar approach for families with children in primary school and a working group is now developing ideas.

The Board discussed a proposal to help schools provide greater support for pupils’ mental health. The Board recognised the growing, significant need in this area, and liked the ambition of the proposals, but felt it was important to see the Government’s response to the recent Green Paper consultation on mental health before taking a decision. The response is due very soon and the Board wants to ensure that OA activity is aligned to any national policy announcements.

Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths (STEAM) Innovation Fund

In the delivery plan for Derby Opportunity Area, our Chair, Kath Mitchell, set out her vision for Derby as a centre of excellence for education and employment in Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) subjects. As part of that the Board has approved a fund offering grants up to a maximum of £25k for a range of activities that help schools and learning providers to improve outcomes for STEAM including:

  • Providing a positive image for children and young people in STEAM subjects.
  • Improving academic outcomes in STEAM subjects and especially improving outcomes for disadvantaged young people in STEAM.
  • Striving for a better gender balance in children and young people following STEAM subjects.
  • Engagement in additional curricular experiences in STEAM.
  • Improving school and college based teaching and learning in STEAM via CPD and links with industry.
  • Creating positive pathways in STEAM, for example, through STEAM information, advice and guidance for young people.

Further information about the grant fund can be found at https://www.derby.gov.uk/education-and-learning/extra-curricular-activities/stream-grants/