At the Opportunity Area (OA) Partnership Board meeting in April, we learned about plans to set up our exciting new technical education offer.
Developments in technical education will open up a world of opportunities to young people and provide additional ways to progress into careers or higher education. Apprenticeships are already offered in Oldham and the new T Levels will be introduced from September 2020, but this is only part of a local plan to deliver a high-quality technical education offer.
Alan Benvie from Oldham College told us about the work happening to introduce a great technical education offer in Oldham. This offer will be co-designed and piloted between Oldham College and a small number of secondary schools in Oldham. Alan also updated us on the developing partnership between Oldham College and the Gatsby Foundation. This partnership will focus on how best to interpret and communicate the ways you can progress through technical education into careers or higher education, which will be crucial when we begin to promote the value of following a technical pathway to our young people. To start with, the technical offer will focus on the construction and digital industries.
To help young people, parents and carers, teachers, and employers understand what technical education will mean for them, there will be:
- taster days
- the chance to spend time in a workplace
More information will be out soon. Follow us on Twitter @OldhamOA for the latest news.
Employers are at the heart of the design of the new technical qualifications and pathways. T levels and Apprenticeship programmes will provide skilled workers to local employers. We are keen to involve interested employers right from the start. Email us at OpportunityAreas.OLDHAM@education.gov.uk to express your interest or to find out more.
We also heard from Rob Caudwell who spoke to us about the new Oldham Insight School (OIS). The OIS is led by a consortium whose members are OASIS Charitable Trust, The Harmony Trust and Sola Fide C. of E. Multi-Academy Trust. The consortium will work in partnership with the University of Manchester to evaluate the work of the Opportunity Area and provide us with valuable insights into the impact of our work. A crucial role for the OIS is to help schools in Oldham improve by sharing research and evidence. Rob is speaking to us in detail at the next board meeting and we look forward to hearing more.
We met another welcome addition to the OA team in Patsy Kane. Patsy will be working with school leaders in Oldham, supporting them on key school improvement initiatives. Patsy has a wealth of experience and expertise, which led to the award of an OBE in the New Year’s 2019 honours list! We will enjoy the benefits of Patsy’s presence in the team.
James Kempton, Chair of Oldham Opportunity Area Partnership Board
The Department for Education has recently launched the Teaching Vacancies website. This is a free teaching vacancy listing service for schools, and is intended to tackle the significant costs that schools face when recruiting and advertising for staff. Instead of paying for adverts, schools can list available jobs on the site for free.
The service is available here: List a teaching job at your school
The site is being rolled out in geographical phases and is due to be rolled out in Oldham in the week commencing January 14th. We want to make sure that schools in Oldham are all able to access the system as soon as it goes live.
In that week, every school will be sent a registration email centrally from the DfE team. You can sign up using that email, when it arrives.
There will be an advertising campaign for Teaching Vacancies starting shortly, aiming to raise the profile of the service and to make it the first calling point for teachers looking for a new teaching role.
The Oldham Opportunity Area Team
Since 2016, Oldham has received additional Government funding as an ‘opportunity area’, to help improve the life chances of its children, young people and their families. Activity is happening all over Oldham, so when the Opportunity Area (OA) Partnership Board met recently, we were delighted to meet some of the people who have benefited from that work.
We met Meghan and Sharif, two of Oldham’s Young Ambassadors. They represent a group ranging in age from 11 to 18 who have worked together to help shape the priorities for investment in Oldham. Their hopes for the future are at the forefront of their minds; they spoke eloquently about feeling positive when they see the redevelopment and changes in the town centre. But they also feel that these chances aren’t open to everyone, because of their personal circumstances. They provided a passionate reminder of why supporting children and young people to do well at school, and get decent jobs with good prospects really matters to the people of Oldham.
We also met with three parents who told us about how the youngest children in Oldham are being supported in new ways, which I hope will make an impact for years to come. They have taken part in Making it REAL, a project in schools which gives parents confidence to improve their children’s reading and writing. I was struck by how those parents not only saw the difference in their children, but also felt a difference in their own abilities and confidence, which brings a positive knock-on effect for older siblings too.
The OA Partnership Board were interested to hear suggestions from both the parent and Young Ambassadors about where things could change or improve. These comments came at just the right time, as the Board were reviewing where else we should be investing the funding we have. One message which came through strongly was the need to communicate to help build a shared sense of the efforts which are underway to improve the future for children and young people in this community. That’s why I will be sharing more about what is happening across Oldham, to help celebrate success, and to encourage more schools, families and young people to get involved.
I will next meet with the other members of the Partnership Board in the New Year, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is working so hard for Oldham, and to wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas.