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:

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