Multi-million pound funding that aims to help boost education and social mobility in the borough over the next three years has been welcomed by Oldham Council.
Last night (December 18) Cabinet formally approved proposals that could see up to £10m of government investment in the borough as part of Oldham’s Opportunity Area (OA) programme.
Earlier this year Oldham was chosen by the government as one of 12 OAs that would receive a share of £72 million aimed at boosting opportunities, learning and social mobility for young people.
Additional funding will be provided as an investment in the ‘Oldham Pledge’, to help children and young people develop essential skills for life and employability.
The OA programme is a key part of the government’s aim to support residents in areas that face challenges and lack of opportunities.
Although Oldham was chosen to become an OA because of the challenge its young people face, it has already begun building momentum and its capacity to improve; the OA plan will help to strengthen the education system for the long term.
To ensure Oldham becomes a better place to learn and achieve, an OA partnership board that brings together local school and council leaders, businesses and community organisations with an understanding of the area has been put in place.
Oldham’s Opportunity Area Plan sets out a series of ambitions to support parents to improve early literacy at home; build high performance across the school system; boost support for mental health and drive up the quality of careers, enterprise education and technical learning.
Three areas of improvement over the next three years where resources will be prioritised have also been identified:
- Ensuring all children are school ready by the age of five
- Raising attainment for all, and raising it fastest for disadvantaged pupils
- Ensuring all children and young people to be ready for life, learning and work
Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet Member for Educational and Early Years, said: “We know the borough and our young people face challenges but we are determined to tackle them head on.
“As a co-operative council we are committed to working with teachers, parents and stakeholders, including the government, to improve the education and skills of all our young people so they are prepared for adulthood and the world of work.
“Our plan complements work already being done in the borough.
“Our Opportunity Area Plan, addresses the most important issues we face and builds upon some of the great practice we have in Oldham. I am confident that the plan and this investment will stimulate and drive forward the pace of improvement.
James Kempton, Independent Chair of the Opportunity Area Partnership Board, said: “I believe this is a once in a generation opportunity.
“The Opportunity Area is a promise, made by national and local government, education leaders and teachers, voluntary organisations and employers in Oldham to make change happen. Together, our goal is to ensure children and young people across the borough get the opportunities and support to succeed.”
Oldham’s share of OA investment is likely to be in excess of £6m.
As an Opportunity Area the borough will also receive a share of a further £22 million through a new Essential Life Skills programme.
This funding will go towards helping disadvantaged young people to develop life skills such as resilience, emotional wellbeing and employability. More than £2.5m is expected to be invested in the borough.
In addition, Oldham will receive support from national partners, including The Careers and Enterprise Company, and will be prioritised for other government initiatives – resulting in a package of funding worth around £10m.
Earlier this year a Research School was launched to boost the quality of teaching in Oldham.
Oldham’s Research School – which is delivered by Teamworks Teaching School Alliance at The Greetland Academy, Halifax – will play a part in achieving this.
The school will become the focal point of evidence-based practice and build networks between schools. They will develop a programme of support and events to get more teachers using research evidence in ways that make a difference in the classroom.