Design a University

Children from across Suffolk have been rewarded for designing their dream university during the Covid-19 lockdown

Max Collett from Stowmarket with designs for his Max Collett from Stowmarket with designs for his “space university” Picture: UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK

Nine youngsters from across the county were named winners of the Design a Uni competition, organised by the University of Suffolk, which aimed to help keep kids creative while at home.

The competition ran via Facebook for pupils between Years 3 and 9, with a different aspect of the university – from halls of residence to lecture theatres – announced each week.

Supporting Year 11s transitioning to college

Over the last two years a partnership between Ipswich secondary schools and the University of Suffolk has enabled over 200 students to receive support to prepare for Maths GCSEs on Saturday mornings through the IOA “What a Difference a Day Makes” programme, with noticeable improvements in GCSE outcomes. 

Ipswich and Norwich Opportunity Areas and NEACO are working in collaboration this summer to provide a skills and learning based “Step Up” tutoring programme for those students who were year 11 leavers this year, and who will be attending Suffolk New College this September.

The programme aims to provide 24 hours of extra online learning and tuition to around 35 students from Ipswich: 3 hours a week of commitment from young people to improve their English, Mathematics and Study Skills in preparation for their next step into college. This learning will be fully supported by tutors and mentors, encouraging and coaching students to get the most from the opportunity. 

More details about the course can be found here.

The programme came about as a response to the current pandemic. As Year 11s faced an abrupt end to their school career, and a long period without learning, this Summer programme helps increase confidence and independence for post 16 study.  As well as providing wellbeing sessions, NEACO has provided additional support in the form of vouchers for students who stay the course to help with the cost of resources for their college course in September.  Students in low income families with limited access to technology received laptops to support their online learning.

Careers and Coffee

Jordan Holder & Josie Finch of New Anglia LEP’s Enterprise Adviser Network team have created a Live YouTube show called ‘Careers & Coffee’.

Broadcast Live during term time at 12:30 every Tuesday & Thursday, Jordan hosts and interviews a range of guests with varying careers including: Crown Court Judges, FTSE 100 Chairs, Fashion Models, STEM professionals and everything in between.

 Josie produces the show and liaises with guests and leads on the technical side of New Anglia LEP’s new initiative to boost virtual encounters for young people with local employers.

What makes Careers and Coffee unique is that students can post questions which Jordan puts to the guests live so that students can better understand the roles of the professionals he is interviewing.  

Jordan & Josie look forward to welcoming you to their next broadcast to ask questions to their guests, LIVE!


The Team at icanbea… have been working hard over the last few months, supporting local schools and students who have had so much to deal with throughout this time.  2020 started well with a number of workshops and events booked in, and a full range of new lesson plans, a teacher dashboard and the virtual tours available.  From mid-March it became apparent we were entering unprecedented times, and given that the project works predominantly through schools it has been a challenging time for the team, however, some quick thinking meant that we were able to work with Ipswich Opportunity Area Team to make the resources funded by them publicly available, this meant we were able to support as many students as possible to stay engaged in work inspiration and researching their potential for future education or employment.   

Because of the ‘on demand’ nature of the resources and that they are accessible through PC, laptop, tablet and phone the website and app have continued to receive around 4000 site visits a month.

Of particular interest has been the amazing Employer Virtual Tours where an individual can ‘visit’ any of five key local employers, hear from the staff and understand what it would be like to work for that employers.  There is also a Careers Wizard where you can discover which jobs might suit your interests and skills or the Education/Home Schooling Index where they have collated lots of resources offered by a range of providers all in one place for easy access.

In response to this work icanbea… is still showing good engagement with IOA Schools with nearly 1400 registered users and we are now working on plans to consider this work over the summer and into next term.  If you would like to see how to use icanbea… please take a look at our Easy Guide or if you would prefer to speak to the team about what icanbea… can do for your school please contact us on

Reducing exclusions

Ipswich Academy used Opportunity Area funding to implement ASDAN to improve engagement and confidence, alongside inclusive practice to support young people and reduce exclusions

Coaching and Mentoring

Liz Donaldson at Morland Primary participated in CUREE mentoring and coaching training through Ipswich Opportunity Area, and went on to embed a culture of coaching and mentoring alongside the school’s CPD programme

Improving Phonics

Rose Hill Primary School used Read, Write Inc to support children in Early Years and key stage 1 with phonics, building a confident start to reading.

Forest Schools

Rose Hill Primary School used Opportunity Area funding to train staff to deliver the Forest School programme, bringing about an improvement in pupil engagement and attendance: