In News, Skills

In conversation with Neil Willis, Regional Lead, Education Challenge at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, reflecting on the impact Opportunity North East has had so far, and looking forward to its next phase.

For the past year, we (the North East Local Enterprise Partnership) have been working with colleagues from Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) to develop a joint approach to support a strand of The Department for Education’s pioneering Opportunity North East (ONE) programme.

Designed to ensure all pupils have the same opportunities to learn, develop and achieve success, regardless of their background or where they live, Opportunity North East is an absolute determination that no child should be left behind.

It’s fantastic to see to see The Department for Education has unveiled its delivery plan for the next phase of Opportunity North East (ONE), which includes a £24 million investment to tackle the challenges facing some of our region’s lowest-performing schools.

This significant investment will mean we can continue to work in partnership with Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) to ensure a consistent approach and maximum impact for young people across our region.

Since the programme began, we’ve worked with 28 ONE Vision schools to help identify the complex challenges and barriers that can hinder pupils’ success. This next phase will build on our work to date so we can provide even more support to all 28 schools.

Looking forward to the next phase

The latest Opportunity North East Delivery Plan sets out five main challenges that exist across the region. Our area of focus will be to lead work around Challenge 4, supporting our young people to find pathways to a good career.

Currently, the North East is the region with the lowest percentage of young people in a sustained education, employment or training destination after key stage 4 and key stage 5. That’s something we need to change.

To help us do that, we’ve worked with all 28 ONE Vision schools to understand how we can help make a difference to young people when it comes to securing employment, apprenticeships or moving to further education. Thanks to the feedback we’ve received, we plan to deliver an enhanced offer of careers and business engagement support for these ONE Vision schools, including plans for monitoring impact. Pupils will benefit from a programme of support that really makes a difference to their lives.

We’ll be working with partners including the Department for Education, our universities and local employers, as well as with our colleagues in Tees Valley, to collectively and intensively support up to 30 young people from each school into sustained education, employment or training.

Pupils will be supported from Year 9 right through to the end of Year 11. They’ll get access to high quality destinations guidance, personalised interventions and one to one guidance to support them in their next steps, including the opportunities available to them.

Our target is that by 2022, all ONE Vision schools will have achieved all eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks and we’ll see an increased percentage of young people from those schools in a sustained education, employment or training destination after key stage 4 and key stage 5.

This, of course, is in addition to work we’re already doing through North East Ambition; supporting every school and college in the North East to achieve the eight Good Career Guidance Benchmarks, as well as through our Education Challenge and Ford Next Generation Learning Programmes – supporting teachers, school leaders and governors to integrate an understanding of the world of work and career opportunities into the curriculum.

We want each and every young person in our region to have the best possible start to their working life, and we are determined that no pupil will be left behind.

We can’t wait to get started on the next phase of this incredibly important work.

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