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Teachers and staff unite for a world-class education in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire

Teachers, senior school leaders and support staff unite to promote a world-class education in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire in a conference today (17) to share best practice and boost professional development.

The inaugural Golden Thread Conference will also hear early evidence and teachers’ experiences from some of the £500,000-funded Opportunity Area (OA) projects to boost language, communication and reading skills in young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or support those with mental health concerns – as part of this shared learning approach.

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “It’s hard to understate the difference a good teacher can have on a child’s outcomes, and specifically for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Teachers and staff unite for a world-class education in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire.
Teachers and staff unite for a world-class education in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire.

“The person stood at the front of a classroom can inspire and ignite that potential that exists in every child.

“That’s why it is so important that we invest in training and continued professional development for the teaching profession – as they can be a driving force for improving social mobility.”

The conference is funded by the OA and supported by The Active Learning Trust’s Littleport and East Cambridgeshire Academy (LECA) alongside East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Research School.

Christopher Jones, conference organiser and lead practitioner of teaching and learning at LECA, said: “Giving every young person the best start in life, whatever their background and wherever they come from, is a mission that unites teachers.

“Today is a great chance for us to get together and share what works so we can make Fenland and East Cambridgeshire the best place to be a teacher or student.”

Headteacher Kate Bonney, Robert Arkenstall Primary School, will showcase her OA-funded project to help families in more rural areas, where facilities like libraries are hard to reach, by giving children dedicated talk time with an adult to improve their language skills. Her project is particularly important in families who don’t have the resources or enough time to get their children ready to learn when they leave nursery and start school.

Across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire pupils are less likely to achieve the national expected standard in reading, writing and maths by the age of 11. The majority of disadvantaged pupils are even further behind that expected standard and the gap between these pupils and all other pupils is wider than many other areas of the country.

Evidence shows one of the best ways to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils is to have high quality teachers and continued professional development, which benefits all children in the class but specifically those eligible for the Pupil Premium.

A total £500,000 has been allocated for projects across 45 schools in the area from the OA’s Evidence Based Fund since it launched in February 2018.

Individual schools bid for up to £25,000 for training, expert advice and resources to carry out projects that evidence shows will accelerate progress of disadvantaged children and young people’s communication, language and reading skills or support those with mental health concerns.

The first projects began in June 2018 and are due to finish this month while others will run until July 2020. The University of Cambridge will evaluate their impact to further share best practice.

Other keynote speakers include Daniel Muijs, Ofsted’s deputy director for research and evaluation, and Alex Quigley, national content manager at the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

East Cambridgeshire and Fenland Research School lead and conference co-organiser Rebecca Pentney will share the best ways to use teaching assistants in helping pupils become independent learners during the conference at LECA.

Francois Nieuwoudt, a restorative justice expert, will talk about tackling behaviour issues by encouraging bullies, truants, or those who constantly disrupt lessons to face up to their actions and the impact it has on others. This positive response helps both victim and offender develop emotional intelligence.

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