What work has Bradford OA done with Bradford Schools

Since the Bradford Opportunity Area commenced delivery many of our OA’s investments have focused on building a local support structure – for example strengthening school leadership by delivering our system-led school support programme, which has offered support to school leaders in Bradford’s most challenging schools. This support has come from the best schools and education system leaders across the district and West Yorkshire.

The OA have also strengthened school leadership by providing mentoring, coaching and leadership masterclasses to new and aspiring headteachers, delivered by a consortium of our strongest Teaching Schools to support lea­dership development. Bradford for Teaching, a tool and strategic partner, has gained traction across the district and beyond in promoting Bradford as a high-quality career destination for talented teachers and leaders to build a career including providing strategic oversight and using data and evaluation to establish what works in promoting recruitment and retention, and the development of Bradford’s teaching workforce.

Improving social mobility requires a long term focus. When the DfE published the Bradford Opportunity Area delivery plan in 2018, it was ambitious in its priorities and targets for measuring success. As we moved into our 4th year of delivery we were able to reflect on progress made in conjunction with our local support structure made up of schools, MATs, the Local Authority and the Bradford Institute of Health Research. We consider ourselves accountable against our targets, including those improving outcomes and the progress made since 2017 but we also recognise there is much more to do.

COVID-19 and Social Mobility

The Covid-19 crisis has generated significant worries about future social mobility. This is because it has drastically worsened both economic and educational inequality, the two key drivers of low social mobility. These inequalities are increasingly interdependent reinforcing each other to determine future social mobili­ty levels (Elliot Major and Machin, 2018).

The impact of COVID-19 is likely to be made more pressing because of the impacts being seen and likely to be seen further in:

• Low levels of pupil attendance

• Continuing School Leader absence

• Continuing Teacher and other school staff absence

Declining social mobility may be an unfortunate consequence of the pandemic, along with increased unemployment and a slowing of the labour market. Central government are generating policies and fiscal stimuli’s to address both economic and educational divides and multi agency work locally is focused on supporting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Sustaining core activity that has a strong evidence base and has demonstrated improvement for the district is key, and the Bradford Opportunity Area remain committed to bringing together partners and to provide a platform to tackle the cross cutting issues that still hold Bradford back; school improvement, attainment and progress at key transition stages and narrowing the attainment gap between advantages and disadvantaged pupils.

We recognise the need to support parental engagement, specifically in relation to building their confi­dence in the post Covid-19 world and to support schools effectively in supporting their pupils and parents returning back to the classroom after their lockdown absence and supporting parents where their children are displaying early signs of SEHM difficulties.

We are keen for schools, teachers and school leaders to benefit from the learning and best practice evidenced in Bradford opportunity area projects to date . If you wish to find out more about how you can get involved please contact us at