Doncaster Opportunity Area

Social Mobility Opportunity Area

Doncaster is one of 12 areas in England chosen by the government as an Opportunity Area (OA), designed to unlock the potential of England’s young people through education. Each OA is government funded but led locally.

From a child’s early education to their post-16 learning, outcomes for disadvantaged children and young people in Doncaster are well below the national average.

Through working in partnership with local organisations, businesses, schools, and colleges, we aim to overcome these challenges – providing each young person with the chance to go as far as their talents and ambition will take them.

Doncaster’s plan is ambitious and targeted. It is delivering significant new investment to the area.

The plan identifies 4 priorities for action. We will:

  1. Narrow the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged primary pupils in literacy and numeracy, giving all children the strongest possible start to their schooling
  2. Increase the number of good secondary school places so that every young person in Doncaster has access to high quality teaching and learning in a school run by strong leaders
  3. Help more of Doncaster’s young people to find the right academic and vocational routes for the careers they aspire to
  4. Take active steps to help the most vulnerable to access opportunities that will support them to succeed in and out of education

Underpinning the plan are 3 key enabling themes that are necessary to deliver our priorities successfully:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Strengthening essential life skills.
  3. Teacher recruitment and retention.

Further information can be found on 


Partners in Learning are one of the main delivers for priority 4. Most of our work is focused on efforts to narrow the gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils at the end of Key Stage 2 so more disadvantaged pupils meet the expected standards - primarily focusing on reading and mathematics. 

This includes working in partnership with other Teaching Schools and cross-borough primary schools on SSIF programmes which provide focused strategies and interventions to targeted school. These include:

SSIF KS2 Literacy Programme - 18/19

The programme aimed to improve literacy outcomes at KS2, based on the recommendations within the EEF literacy guidance document. Over the year, the programme involved colleagues from across Doncaster, Barnsley and Sheffield schools, which has included a blend of face to face training days and bespoke school to school support. 

Cross-borough support provided by Partners in Learning, Tykes TSA and Positive Regard TSA. 

The programme has received national recognition and Doncaster Research School is supporting the delivery of the programme across the country. 

Following the success of Cohort 1, Doncaster Research School are delighted to have secured funding through the Opportunity Area for a second cohort involving 15 Doncaster schools.

The launch event for Cohort 2 took place in May 19, with face to face training days due to begin in June. 


SSIF Mathematics Mastery - 18/19

This programme is delivered in collaboration with Learning Unlimited TSA and Mathematics Mastery, which involves 30 Doncaster Schools receiving support in embedding the Mathematics Mastery Approach into their schools. The programme consists of a blend face to face training days, network sessions and bespoke SLE support. 

This programme will be coming to an end in Spring 2020, however data monitoring will take place in Summer 2020. 

Learning Matters Programme - 18/19

This programme was designed and facilitated to enable delegates and schools to implement effective long term changes to improve practice and achieve sustainable impact. There has been a clear purpose of building leadership capacity and support the identification of the schools individual starting points. 

The programme consists of ten Participating Schools and ten Professional Partners, receiving a blend face to face training days, network sessions and bespoke Professional Partner support. Each participating school was partnered with a system leader to access follow on support through coaching and collaborative activity. The facilitators for this programme have been sourced from local experts, the EEF, Aspire Education Trust, Rosendale Research School and many more.  

This programme will be coming to an end in Summer 2019.

We are looking to source additional funding to support an additional cohort of schools to participate in 2019/20. Further information will be available shortly. 

Download the Doncaster SMOA Delivery Plan. 


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