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Drive to raise education standards and increase opportunity in Fenland and East Cambs unveiled by new Education Secretary

Damian Hinds, Education Secretary.
Damian Hinds, Education Secretary.

Schools in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire are to benefit from a share of £25 million government cash to help raise pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills.

The funding was announced today (Friday) by Education Secretary Damian Hinds and aims to raise education standards by supporting under-performing schools and offering young people more opportunities.

It is aimed particularly at areas facing the greatest challenges across the country.

The announcement included the publication of the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area plan which will focus on four priority areas:

• Accelerating the progress of disadvantaged pupils – by aiming to halve the attainment gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers in reading and language development by 2021. To help with this, schools can apply for up to £25,000 to deliver improvement programmes targeted at disadvantaged pupils.

• Strengthening mental health and support for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – mental health first aid training will be available for all secondary schools, and the plan will create links between schools and mental health services. It will also involve training for leaders and professionals to enhance support for children with SEND.

• Raising aspirations of young people in the community – by delivering careers programmes to secondary schools, broadening the horizons of young people. Training will also be provided for school staff to deliver improved careers education and guidance.

• Recruiting and developing high-quality teachers – by working closely with Teach First and funding for new training courses to recruit excellent teachers in the area. Further events and training will also be delivered to provide ongoing career progression and development for existing teachers.

Fenland and East Cambridgeshire will also benefit from up to £1.4 million through a new Essential Life Skills programme, to help disadvantaged young people develop life skills such as resilience, emotional wellbeing and employability.

The plan will add to the investment already made across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire and will be supported by local businesses, as well as the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) as it continues its work bringing schools and employers together across the two districts to help pupils develop their employability skills.

The CEC has signed up a number of significant employers across a range of industries including Anglian Water, KPMG and Stainless Metalcraft.

The Essential Life Skills programme will complement the plans published today by providing extra-curricular activities like sports, volunteering and social action projects, giving pupils the opportunity to develop leadership skills.

Patricia Pritchard, chairman of the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area Partnership Board, said: “The partnership board’s agenda is being driven by a firm commitment and relentless focus on promoting fair access to a high quality education and a wide range of career choices for all pupils who live and go to school within the opportunity area of Fenland and East Cambridgeshire.

“It is an exciting time for everyone as we strive to ensure that children and young people are well prepared with the skills, knowledge and understanding to access the curriculum throughout all stages of their school career prior to entering the world of work.”

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