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Education: Social Mobility

Question for Department for Education

UIN 102611, tabled on 12 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to embed the learning from the Opportunity Areas projects into its policies and practices; and what targets he has set for the implementation of such learning by his Department.

Answered on

18 January 2022

One of the two key objectives of the Opportunity Areas (OA) programme is to identify what works in these areas, capturing which challenges all areas share and what is unique to a particular place; and spreading effective practice to other areas. As one of the key objectives, sharing learning is embedded within the programme, rather than having specific targets set against it.

Our sharing learning strategy has three main strands. Firstly, each of the 12 OAs has been twinned with one or more non-OA areas facing similar challenges and is delivering programmes in those areas, directly sharing effective practice from the OA programme. Secondly, the department has published a set of case studies from every OA, detailed effective practice, and is now publishing a series of thematic guides to share our learning from the OA programme on particular issues. These are available for national policy makers, local authorities and other stakeholders right across the country to draw on. The published guides so far include case studies to support teacher recruitment, careers advice and guidance, health and education, and early years. Thirdly, we are publishing a national process evaluation this summer which will identify key learning from the OA’s place-based approach to delivery. This will set out what has worked well on the programme as well as identifying the key barriers to effective delivery.

In addition to the above, the department's OAs team has worked with officials across government to share the lessons on place-based working learnt from the OA programme, particularly in regard to supporting and developing local leadership.

Details of the published thematic guides can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/opportunity-areas-insight-guides. Case studies from every OA can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/753695/DFE_-_Opportunity_Areas-One_Year_On_.PDF.