To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Opportunity Areas in improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged children.
The effectiveness of the Opportunity Areas (OAs) in improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged children is being assessed in 2 main ways.
My officials sit on the local partnership boards in each of the 12 areas and work closely with the relevant local authority to design, procure, and monitor each local board’s chosen projects. Progress on every single project, across all 12 areas, is assessed on a monthly basis. Monthly spending figures, along with local intelligence regarding the take-up and effectiveness of different projects, is reported back to the department every month and reviewed by the senior official responsible for the programme as a whole. We continue to receive very positive feedback on the programme from schools and other stakeholders in each of the 12 areas.
In addition to this, the programme is subject to a detailed, formal evaluation process. Given the entrenched nature of some educational attainment issues, progress on any given measure is always likely to take time and be incremental. We are monitoring the programme very closely.
The evaluation has 3 main elements:
Analysis of data from the academic year 2018/19 suggests the OAs are on a positive trajectory. For example:
To give some specific examples of progress towards the national average: