Partnership Board Newsletter

Academic Year 2020/21 – The Story So Far:

Posted 11/02/21

Since our last update, the Derby Opportunity Area Partnership Board has been busy getting 2020/21 projects up and running, and reflecting on the success of previous years. It’s been an incredibly difficult few months for all, not least Derby’s children and young people. We want to take a moment to thank all of our partners, leaders and practitioners for their incredible work during these unprecedented times.

In the Autumn term, we went out to tender for a number of projects; including, Phonics; KS1 and 2 Maths, Reading and Writing, KS4 Maths and English, and Inclusion. All contracts have now been awarded and details of the successful providers can be found below:

Primary School Improvement:

  • Phonics – Derby Early Years Teaching School Alliance (DEYTSA)

DEYTSA will once again be providing a high quality, highly tailored programme of phonics support which will be flexible to the needs of the individual school. The project will include learning for leaders, and for teachers with differing levels of experience.

  • Maths, Reading and Writing – Transform Trust

Transform school improvement projects will deliver blended learning and delegates will receive resources including audits, digital sessions and home schooling booklets. All CPD sessions will all be online via Zoom and recorded for those delegates unable to attend.

Secondary English and Maths – School Development Support Agency (SDSA)

SDSA is bringing together a number of interventions to support improved outcomes in KS4 English and Maths, including continuing Subject Leads Networks online, providing both developmental and supportive activity, the creation of fantastic films and resources for all schools, and direct support for 13 English and Maths departments through diagnostic reviews, tailored plans, and funds for improvement.

Inclusion – Derby County Community Trust (DCCT)

DCCT is bringing together a number of partners in the City to create a joined-up approach to inclusion. Activity will be focused on encouraging greater partnership working to support Covid-19 recovery, particularly for the most vulnerable. This will include strengthening links with other local agencies and support services, including health, social work and community support, to help schools to navigate and access the right support. Activity will be targeted to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the city with a focus on inclusion, SEMH/SEND and targeted family engagement activity.

The OAPB also recently approved additional funding for DCCT to address digital poverty through community hubs that enable children and their families to access the internet, computers and develop their digital skills.

In addition to the above, year four will also see a coordinated approach across local initiatives that support young people to move into positive education, employment, and training destinations. The work will include a stronger virtual offer for secondary students, more resources for teachers and careers leads to embed careers in the curriculum and a higher profile for Careers IAG in schools. The work will include a virtual careers fair with 100 local employers, films providing meaningful encounters with local employers, information and resources about local career opportunities, virtual assessment centres for Y11 and Y13, information on the work experience offer, and support for teachers through networks and peer challengers.

Over the last term, a number of Opportunity Area projects have come to a close, including the Emotionally Healthy Schools project. Thanks to this work, every school in Derby now has a fully trained Designated Lead for Mental Health who has, and will continue, implementing a whole school approach to mental health. 76 schools also went on to complete the Carnegie Mental Health in Schools Award (48 bronze, 22 silver, 6 gold). Huge congratulations, and thanks to Ingrid, Jane and the team for the incredible success of the project.

Last chance to sign up: The Talk Derby training offer is fast coming to a close, with the offer of free Speech Language and Communication support ending in March 2021. Training has been adapted to be delivered remotely and flexibly to ensure all settings have the ability to complete training in the current climate. To find out more information, or to sign up, please visit:

If you, or the parents and carers that you work with, have already accessed any of the TALK Derby development opportunities, we would love to hear your views!

A Practitioner survey can be accessed here, and the parents Parent/carer survey can be found here.


Year Four

Posted 17/07/2020

Over the last few months we have worked collaboratively with our Partnership Board to agree our Year Four priorities, these are:


  • Inclusion/Supporting Vulnerable Students – taking forward key elements from 5 current programmes and enhancing outreach elements in order to provide targeted support for those students in greatest need to return to school and education in a post-COVID-19 context. In Year 4, we plan to streamline a number of current programmes (SEND; Emotionally Healthy Schools; Targeted Student Support; Family Engagement; and Exclusions) and take forward key successful elements in order to build on the successes so far and support the post-COVID recovery for schools, especially for the most vulnerable. Through a single Inclusion strand, we will increase the capacity and capability of mainstream schools to provide effective inclusion interventions and support vulnerable students.

Raising School Standards: Primary School Improvement

  • Continuing the suite of School Improvement support at primary: Phonics, Reading (KS2) and Writing (KS2), Maths (KS2), and English as an Additional Language (EAL). An additional year of these projects will allow us to continue on the upwards trajectory and narrow the gap between Derby and the rest of the country. We will work with the LA and RSC to target DfE’s weak schools, stuck schools, and those in the bottom quartile for each measure that have either not yet engaged or have engaged but need further support.
  • KS4 English and maths. Our current KS4 projects have engaged all of Derby’s weak and stuck schools. We will continue to support these schools into year 4 to ensure they continue on their improvement journeys and to support the reintegration of pupils back into school post-COVID. Year 4 activity will focus on peer review in all secondary schools and Post 16 settings, alongside targeted support for Year 11 students (the current Year 10) and Post 16 resits, supporting catch-up for those who need it most to ensure that these cohorts are not disadvantaged as a result of missing school due to COVID-19.
  • Whole school improvement: Leadership and Implementation Support. Tailored Research School programmes for Derby Senior Leaders; supplemented by intensive support for those secondary schools in the city that are facing the most significant challenges and serving the most disadvantaged pupils in the city.

Pathways to rewarding careers

  • Our Future Derby. We will continue to fund Our Future Derby, which will be tailored to address specific factors affecting students and their communities due to COVID-19. A continued focus on primary schools within the seven most disadvantaged areas, with online elements available city-wide. Independent research into the careers education, information and guidance system in Derby found our work in primary schools in the most deprived Wards is seen as a key strength. The programme provides schools access to expert support in embedding career related learning into the curriculum and to connect with local employers. Year 4 will include a focus on STEM careers, to ensure higher numbers of young people are aiming for careers in key skills areas in Derby, and strengthen the information sharing between primary and secondaries to ensure learning and skills are not lost in transition.
  • Twinning with neighbouring local areas on Skills and Careers. Strengthening collaboration across the D2N2 LEP area in order to support the delivery of Championing Careers Derby. This proposal takes forward key recommendations from a major research programme funded by Derby OA and builds upon strategic foundations laid within the government’s National Careers Strategy; the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan; Derby City and Young People’s Plan; and Derby City Council. Key areas of focus are:
    • Supporting our more vulnerable 14-19 year olds with positive interventions that aim to better join up existing services, raise aspirations and increase employer encounters.
    • Improving careers guidance by utilising Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) to ensure closer alignment with local opportunities and the Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), particularly around digital and healthcare in order to create clear pathways to areas with key skills shortages.
    • Facilitating greater collaboration and encouraging collective ownership of these issues, as well as increasing the capacity and capability of local partners to provide effective support.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Chair of Derby Opportunity Area Board, said “I am delighted that the Opportunity Areas initiative has been able to secure one further year of funding from the DfE.  It has been a privilege to work directly with Government Ministers’ and DfE teams in providing better access to high quality teaching and learning and for this fourth year of funding it is exciting that we will be working across our regions to share best practice.  For Derby OA, this extended funding will allow our teachers, as well as all providers engaged in raising attainment and aspiration for the young people of our City to further embed the successes to date. It is important to note that COVID 19 has placed further challenges on our young people and this funding will directly support our Nurseries, Schools and our College to effectively re-engage with some of our most vulnerable young people in the City”.

Happy Half Term

Posted 17/02/2020

It’s been a busy few months, including a General Election and an announcement of a one-year extension to the OA programme! The Partnership Board, sub-groups and programme leads have all been hard at work to ensure we continue to make a positive impact and leave a legacy in Derby.

In November, the Partnership Board approved two new programmes: Derby Scholars, a programme supporting, disadvantaged, high attaining secondary pupils aspire to high tariff institutions such as Oxbridge, and Boundary Leapers, an initiative providing targeted support for GCSE students who show the potential to ‘leap’ key exam grade boundaries in English and maths.

On Tues 25th and Wed 26th February, events are being held for 900 Y11 pupils at Landau Forte College. Over the two days, lessons will be taught by secondary teachers from across the city, covering topics that provide the greatest challenge for pupils at key grade boundaries. Participating schools will also receive supplementary resources to use in the coming weeks and months to support on-going activity.

An online ‘Common Transfer Portal’ will be launched after the February half-term which will support the flow of information between Derby’s primary and secondary schools in order to aid smoother transition. Primary schools will enter transfer information in one place, rather than completing multiple transfer forms, and secondary schools will be able to log in to access all their future pupils’ information from multiple primary schools.

A Secondary Information Exchange Event is also being held on 2 April 2020 to help facilitate transitions conversations, for particular pupils in need of additional support, between primary and secondary schools. Secondary school colleagues are being asked to attend all day and an online booking system is now open for primary schools to select their preferred time slots:

Training to develop quality first teaching in SEND is available from February to April. Training will take place St Martins School and will look at frameworks to:

  • Reflect on SEND attitudes and practice to develop quality first teaching;
  • Reflect critically and proactively on the requirements for learners;
  • Promote effective Teaching Assistant deployment;
  • Increase staff retention.

Book places at  

The Family Engagement School Toolkit is now live and available to download from the app store. The website and app will guide and support parents with various aspects of their child’s learning and development, covering 5 key themes: school life, academic, community, health and wellbeing and safety. The School Toolkit website and app will be translated into five different languages – Polish, Kurdish, Urdu, Slovak and Latvian. A ‘roadshow’ is currently taking place in the 18 primary schools involved in the project and a social media campaign to promote the website and app has been running since 1 January. Visit or follow @schooltoolkit on Twitter, and school_toolkit on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date.

The Our Future Derby project is reaching out for volunteers to take part in a programme of career related activities within 32 primary schools in Derby. People across Derby are being asked to sign up and spare a couple of hours to go into a school and tell their career stories. The project is looking for a wide range of professions to get young people to explore a whole range of careers. Volunteers will be fully supported by a team of experts who will be on hand to facilitate the activities. You can volunteer through the Education and Employer website:

On 26 February, the secondary Family Engagement project are hosting Next Steps Careers Event at the Pakistani Community Centre in Normanton. The aim of the event is to raise the awareness, and aspiration, of employment pathways for pupils from The Bemrose School, City of Derby Academy and Merrill Academy. Translators will be readily available to support parents who do not have English as their first language. The event will build of the success of the Raising Aspirations Careers Fayre that took place in Normaton last year, where over 100 pupils and their families, and a range of local employers, attended. (You can find more information on last years event on our Good News Blog page!)

The Teach Derby website is now live – The website promotes teaching and teacher training opportunities in Derby, and shares success stories.

So far, few Derby schools have taken advantage of the Department for Education’s offer of support with Integrated Curriculum and Financial Planning. This is a management process helps schools plan the best curriculum for their pupils with the funding they have available. It involves measuring your current curriculum, staffing structure and finances, and using the data to create a 3 to 5 year plan. Also available is support from a Schools Resource Management Adviser. You can find more information here:

Autumn Update

Posted 22/10/2019

…And just like that we’re in the third year of the Opportunity Area programme!

We hope you all had a restful summer break and that you’ve settled well into the new school year. At the first Partnership Board of 2019/20, the Board reviewed the progress of OA funded programmes and approved a bid from the University of Derby to encourage and support Derby students applying to Oxford and Cambridge. The Board also emphasised the importance of creating a lasting legacy and will hold an away day in October to discuss ideas on creating a legacy and sustainability plan.

Derby OA has a number of high quality school improvement programmes available for primary schools this year, including Phonics, Reading, Writing, Maths and EAL.
This year we will also be offering Oracy, a new programme led by Hardwick School (a limited number of places are also available on this programme for secondary colleagues).
Places on all these courses are limited. To find out more, or register your interest, please contact

Every school in Derby has now committed to training a designated lead for mental health, and have attended at least one training day. Schools which trained in cohorts 1 and 2 are now being asked to complete their action plans and return them to Leeds Beckett University by the 24th October.
For more information on the Emotionally Healthy Schools programme, and for some helpful hints, tips and links, visit

The next Derby OA SENCO Network session is taking place on Wednesday 13th November 4-6pm at the University of Derby, with special guest, Ofsted’s Nick Whittaker (HMI, SEND). Heads and SENCOs from all school phases are invited to attend. To book your place please email

Early Years settings have the opportunity to take part in free, SEND CPD. Nasen is currently scheduling two further training sessions, the time and date for which will be advertised in the near future. To register your interest please email

Our Future Derby formally launched last month, with the aim of inspiring primary children to see the relevance of schooling to the world of work and connect primary schools with employers. Delivery leads have been in touch with primary schools in target wards to encourage and support sign up. For those schools not within a target ward, the team will be developing a careers portal for all primary schools in Derby to access career related learning opportunities. Find out more:
Our Future Derby is also recruiting volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds in all forms of job roles. Your commitment can be as much, or as little, as you can offer; from giving up just one hour to share your career journey in an assembly, to supporting a day of inspiring activities at a local school. Sign up today:

Important transition dates for your diaries:
Thursday 2nd April – Secondary Information Exchange Event – for key staff from all schools
Tuesday 7th – Thursday 9th July – city-wide Common Transfer Days for all schools.

The Department for Education has announced details of the Mathematics and Physics teacher retention payments pilot, which will run from 2019/20 and 2020/21. Maths and physics teachers, in their first five years are eligible for a £2,000 retention payment after tax. The pilot is open to teachers employed in a state-funded secondary in Derby Opportunity Area, whether they are employed on a full-time or part-time basis. For further information and to register interest, please visit

As an Opportunity Area, funding is available for Derby’s school staff to participate in funded national professional qualification programmes. If you’re interested, visit:

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