Improving pupil mental wellbeing in Oldham

At the Opportunity Area (OA) Partnership Board meeting in June, we heard that what over 3000 of Oldham’s young people have to say about their mental wellbeing and health.

Recent studies have shown that children with improved mental wellbeing and health are likely to achieve better academically. Schools in Oldham have an important role to play in supporting their pupils through developing tailored approaches to wellbeing. The Opportunity Area is helping schools to grow their wellbeing action plans as part of our school improvement offer.

Jodie Barber from the Oldham Council Opportunity Area team told us about the ‘Our Minds, Our Voices’ consultation. Over 3000 young people took part in the consultation to put forward their views on their own mental wellbeing and health. We heard about how their views will help form recommendations, and about the plans to share these in the autumn with school leaders. These recommendations will help us shape how we support young people’s mental wellbeing and health in Oldham.

We will share information on the recommendations in the autumn. Follow us on Twitter @OldhamOA for the latest news.

We also heard from Clare Cheetham from the Oldham Council Opportunity Area team. She updated us on School-to-School support and on the Literacy Strategy:

  • School-to-School support: The Oldham Opportunity Area supports 26 schools. Each has a bespoke school improvement action plan. Clare updated the board on the progress of these support packages and talked about the quality and consistency of monitoring.  She told us about the new Insight School’s role in their evaluation and how their findings will help us improve in the coming academic year. We’ll see findings from this evaluation at the next board meeting in October.
  • Literacy Strategy: the priority for this strategy is to focus on children’s development in the core area of literacy and language. Clare updated us on the challenges we face in Oldham on improving literacy standards and told us about the formation of The Oldham Literacy Partnership. We learned about the next steps for the literacy strategy and there will be an update at a future board meeting.

The board also heard general progress updates for our projects, including:

  • Key Stage 4 Disadvantage Project (Jayne Clarke, Oldham Sixth Form College)
  • Parent Power Project (Martyn King, Department for Education)

For more information on these or any other of our projects, please email us at

Technical Education comes to Oldham

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:

  • roadshows
  • 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 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