The Opportunity Areas (OAs) programme aims to increase social mobility by investing £72 million (2017-2020) for 12 OAs to address entrenched and widespread educational challenges in areas of multiple social and economic disadvantage. OAs foster cross-sector collaboration between early years providers, schools, colleges, universities, employers, charities and local authorities. OAs’ delivery plans describe local barriers to achievement and set out an improvement vision, priorities, targets and actions to provide opportunities for children and young people.
A consortium comprising York Consulting (lead partner), NFER, New Economics Foundation Consulting and University of Leeds has been commissioned to evaluate the impact of OAs.
The mixed-methods evaluation has four strands:
- Overall impact which involves constructing statistical models to capture the value added of the programme on educational and related outcomes.
- Cost-benefit analysis which entails estimating the net benefit of OA funding.
- Place-based evaluation investigating planning and delivery and cross-cutting themes.
- Intervention-level evaluations of specific projects.
NFER is leading the place-based evaluation and working on the intervention-level project evaluations which will contribute to the assessment of overall impact of OAs.