First tenders valuing £220,000 launched in Ipswich Opportunity Area programme to transform education

The programme aims to help improve education outcomes in Ipswich. Picture: MONKEY BUSINESS/THINKSTOC

The programme aims to help improve education outcomes in Ipswich. Picture: MONKEY BUSINESS/THINKSTOCK - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Bosses behind the government’s Ipswich Opportunity Area programme to boost education in town have launched the first tenders worth nearly a quarter of a million – with local businesses urged to get involved.

Gordon Jones said it would allow Ipswich youngsters to achieve their full potential. Picture: JAMES

Gordon Jones said it would allow Ipswich youngsters to achieve their full potential. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER - Credit: Archant

The Department for Education announced a £72 million pot for 12 opportunity areas in January, with the aim of improving attainment and education in those areas.

Ipswich was among those chosen, and after a couple of months of work to establish the project, the first four tenders have been launched for companies to bid for, worth a combined £220,000.

Katrina Gardiner, programme manager said: “It’s hugely significant because this is the first activity people can see.

“We want to build on the momentum we got from the launch, and we want schools in the area and communities to start to recognise activity,

“It’s hugely important these ones are out now because it’s building on what we said we would do – we have got really good engagement from our schools and we want to build on that.”

The first tender valued at £35,000 will find a delivery partner to develop a programme which allows parents to develop their child’s early language and social skills, while £100,000 is set aside to develop skills for early years staff in the same area.

A £70,000 tender has been launched to trial an evidence-based scheme which improves communication between parents or carers and schools, while a fourth programme valued at £15,000 will develop support for school governors.

“I would like to see tenders from local business,” Ms Gardiner said.

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“As an opportunity area it’s not just our schools that can benefit from this – it’s a bit of a win, win, but it is open to everyone.”

The deadline for applications is April 23, with start dates from June, although the most significant impact will come at the start of the next academic year.

The Ipswich launch had the best turnout of any opportunity area launch nationally, and the team is already hard at work on finalising its second round of project tenders, and working on the last details of a scheme around breakfast clubs.

Once projects begin, progress will be carefully monitored with the aim of rolling programmes out to more schools and education providers.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “Suffolk’s children and young people deserve the best education – this is the vision for the county’s Raising the Bar programme which has been set up to ensure every child in Suffolk can achieve their full potential. The Ipswich Opportunity Area project is part of this.

“By bringing together and involving school leaders, parents, carers, business owners, council leaders and specialists and other partners in the opportunity area programmes, education attainment will improve.

“Young people will be supported and have access to the right advice and experience to make the best version of themselves.”

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