October has been a month to reflect on what progress has been made in our first year as an Opportunity Area. The delivery plan was published last year on 9th October, and since then our partnership board and thematic groups have created a programme to deliver against the targets sets for each of our four priorities for Norwich.
Our Youth Board hosted a celebration event on 18th September to celebrate the work of local leaders and stakeholders from schools, colleges, business, the voluntary sector, and our local councils. On 12th October Damien Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, visited Norwich to speak to students and tutors at Norwich City College, meet with the Partnership Board to discuss their strategy for the next two years, and speak to cornerstone employers about their contribution. The following week our Youth Board was invited to represent the voice of young people in OAs at a national celebration in Westminster, as the DfE published two key documents as part of the day’s reflections on this first milestone: an independent evaluation of the implementation phase of the Opportunity Area programme, and a set of case studies from all 12 opportunity areas.
NFER’s evaluation identified that nationally the programme is ‘starting to develop a lasting legacy’ of positive collaboration. In Norwich we have seen evidence of this in some strong networks developing between schools and colleges, leading to some significant new school-led projects.