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Teachers given update on £72m ‘Opportunity Area’ project to help improve social mobility in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 15:28 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:28 07 November 2017

Teachers from the Ipswich area gathered for a conference at Rushmere Hall Primary School to debate, discuss, and reflect on their own learning as professionals. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Teachers from the Ipswich area gathered for a conference at Rushmere Hall Primary School to debate, discuss, and reflect on their own learning as professionals. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

More than 150 teachers in Ipswich gathered at a conference to find out more details about the government’s multi-million pound project to improve social mobility across the town.

Dr Rob Loe speaking at the conference.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDr Rob Loe speaking at the conference. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich has been identified as one of 12 ‘opportunity areas’ by the government which wants to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children in these ‘cold spot’ social mobility areas.

Education secretary Justine Greening wants these targeted children to “have access to a world-class education”.

The opportunity areas, announced earlier this year and identified using the government’s social mobility index, will receive a share of £72 million funding to build teaching and leadership capacity, and improve access to careers advice and universities.

School leaders, business owners, council leaders, and other partners will also form partnership boards in each area to improve children’s attainment and work with employers to improve young people’s access to the right advice and experiences.

Teachers from the Ipswich area gathered for a conference at Rushmere Hall Primary School to debate, discuss, and reflect on their own learning as professionals.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTeachers from the Ipswich area gathered for a conference at Rushmere Hall Primary School to debate, discuss, and reflect on their own learning as professionals. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Work has already started on the Ipswich action plan.

Around 170 Ipswich teachers met at Rushmere Hall Primary School to discuss and share best-teaching practice and research before the half-term break. They also found out more details about the project from Rebecca Digby, a senior executive officer - social mobility opportunity areas at the Department for Education (DfE).

Clare Flintoff, organiser of the conference, said: “I think we are probably the first large group of teachers to hear more information from the DfE about the designation of Ipswich as an opportunity area and to hear about the priorities that are being developed and the funding that will enable us to really transform outcomes for our young people.

“It was an opportunity for primary school teachers to learn about the best educational research projects and to consider how they can develop evidence based practice in their classrooms.

“Our aim has been to recapture the professionalism of teachers and to provide them with thought-provoking materials and high-level discussion. Having time out of the classroom to come together was also really valuable.”

The government has named Ipswich, Norwich, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Blackpool, Derby, Oldham, Scarborough, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Hastings, and Stoke-on-Trent as its 12 opportunity areas.

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