SATs results show rising standards in maths

Interim SATs results show an increase in maths attainment among KS2 pupils, while overall 65% pupils reached the “expected standard”, passing the scaled benchmark score of 100 or more.

In most key subjects, raw marks were lowered to meet the increase in difficulty in this year’s assessments, to maintain the use of converted scale scores as an accurate comparison. Most significantly, lowering the boundaries for maths was met by an increase of 3% on last year, with
79% of pupils at least meeting the expected standard.

Of concern, however, was a 2% decline in reading standards, with 73% pupils achieving the expected minimum, despite no overall change in difficulty in the paper as indicated by the raw score needed remaining at 28 out of 50. Without comprehensive and universal literacy education, findings by EEF indicate that those in highly disadvantaged areas operating below the minimum expectation face worrying prospects.

However, an increase in difficulty did not affect attainment in the grammar, punctuation and spelling papers, maintaining a 78% expected standard. Performance in the writing teacher assessment remained high with 78% achieving the expected standard or “working at greater depth”.

Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb has praised the results of the reformed National Curriculum Assessments. “These results show the majority of pupils are leaving primary school ready to deal with the challenges of secondary school.”

“We reformed these tests in 2016 to make sure they assessed schools’ performance in equipping pupils to understand the new, improved primary curriculum. These skills will give them the chance to make the most of their potential – this is at the heart of the reforms we’ve introduced across the
education system since 2010.”

“It’s testament to the hard work and dedication of teachers that we have seen results rising over time despite the bar of expectation having been raised.”

However, a study from the NEU illustrates that 97% of primary school teachers want the high stakes tests to be scrapped. Those surveyed supported the NEU campaign for “a sensible alternative” to the tests, which they argue are damaging children and narrowing the curriculum. There has been increasing concern in the sector that the tests put undue stress on children, with numerous reports of pupils suffering anxiety as a result of the pressures of testing.

Regional figures will be available from September.


DfE announces national mental health programme between schools and NHS

The DfE has announced investment of £9.3 million in a training scheme to support pupils struggling with mental health. The scheme will focused on a joined up approach to care and support across schools, colleges and specialist NHS services.

With 1 in 10 young people under 16 diagnosed with a mental health condition and 20% of adolescents experiencing a mental health problem in any given year ( there have been a number of calls for the government to provide more support for schools in dealing with mental health issues.

The four-year scheme will be led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and will build on the work of the pilot stage of the programme, launched in 2015.

Schools, colleges and alternative providers will be offered training through a series of workshops as part of the Link Programme, with school based members of staff taking part in training alongside mental health specialists. The aim is to improve partnerships with NHS mental health services, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.

The training will be rolled out to schools and colleges from September, in phases over four years, and will deliver just under 1,000 training sessions across England encouraging collaborative work so children do not fall between the cracks or experience poor transition between services.

The Government announced today that 124 new Mental Health Support Teams will be created in 48 areas across the country. 

Further reading:

DfE Press Release


SNE launches inaugural CelebrateEd

Almost 300 teachers and education professionals from across the North have come together at Northumbria University Business school to attend CelebrateEd – two days celebrating the best in teaching practice in the North of England.

CelebrateEd featured over over 60 sessions across the two days with renowned speakers, local school leaders and frontline teachers sharing what works in their schools, as well as demonstrations from edtech companies, performances from local school groups and the Newcastle based Circus Central.

The event had a festival feel with a relaxed and informal setting for teachers to connect with colleagues and celebrate the work happening in the region, as well as the opportunity to enjoy a BBQ and ice cream.

Keynote speakers Alex Quigley and Rob Coe both emphasised the importance of using evidence to underpin decisions about how we teach and to help us understand how our students learn.

Underpinning CelebrateEd is the launch of the Ednorth programme, designed to cut through the fog of ‘expert’ guidance and commercial silver bullets and instead engage teachers in a community which can explore and implement solutions which work for their students.

Opening speaker Iain Veitch, Vice Chair of Schools North East and Head Teacher of Park View school in Chester-le-St, passionately outlined the history of the North East as one of ‘pioneers and dreamers’, telling delegates that ‘our students and teachers do not know that they are standing on the shoulders of giants.’ The region, however, has been overshadowed by a narrative of disadvantage, to which he urged that ‘we must not let their histories dictate our children’s future’s’. As a local Head Teacher, who is passionate about the region, Iain called on teachers to get involved in Ednorth, to give them a voice, to stand up to London-centric policies and guidance and to help establish the North as a cradle of innovative thinking in teaching.

Day one got the event off to a fantastic start, with delegates enthused about learning and sharing, and the event trending on Twitter. We are pleased to be able to continue the conversations for a second day and hope that this is a starting point for what in future can be the biggest event for teaching professionals, not only in the region, but the country, leading the way on best practice in education.

If you want to get involved with the Ednorth programme and sign up as an Advocate for your school and local area find out more at

Education links w/c 08/07/19 – Chronicle Live, Revealed: The top 10 secondary schools in the North East right now. – Chronicle Live, Sunderland school dubbed ‘broken’ celebrates after latest Ofsted inspection. – Chronicle Live, How good is your school? Every secondary in the North East ranked. – Darlington & Stockton Times, North Yorkshire school transport changes ‘will hit pupils from broken homes’. – The Northern Echo, English lessons for parents will help Darlington primary school pupils. – The Northern Echo, ‘Improvement needed’ at Polam Hall’s boarding school. – The Northern Echo, World experts to address North-East conference on autism and neurodiversity. – Sunderland Echo, Revealed: this is the number of unqualified teachers working in Sunderland state schools. – Sunderland Echo, Eton College offers Sunderland children chance to study at top school. – Gazette Live, Outwood academy chain’s record of turning round failing schools is showered with praise by Ofsted. – Gazette Live, The school with ‘complete dedication’ that’s transforming lives and has been named Teesside’s best. – Gazette Live, The top 10 Teesside state secondaries revealed in the 2019 Real Schools Guide. – Northumberland Gazette, Children ‘more enthusiastic and confident’ after summer programmes in Northumberland. 

Hinds announces Early Years initiative and new nursery places

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has launched the early years initiative ‘Hungry Little Minds’ in collaboration with a coalition of national businesses, aimed at improving communication and literacy skills in the early years.

The programme, aimed at supporting children from all income groups, will provide parents with video tips and advice on assisting language development through both playtime and everyday activities. While the Department for Education’s own data collection reveals a 20% increase over five years in the percentage of children attaining at least a good level of development in the early years, more than a quarter of children do not reach their expected level of development. Hungry Little Minds intends to build on core EYFS communication skills through encouraging engagement between parents and children, utilising shopping and other aspects of normal life for learning.

Although early years development in the North East matches the 70% national average, a significant gap in achievement is highlighted between pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSMs) and their classmates. The widest gap in the region was found in Northumberland where only 53% of students eligible for FSMs achieved the expected level of development, 24% lower than all other students.

Alongside the three-year campaign, £22m has been allocated between 66 schools across the country to open up 1,800 nursery places. Seven primary schools in the region will benefit from the scheme: one each in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, North Tyneside, Hartlepool, Durham and two in Northumberland. This adds to the 26,653 nursery places within the region, of which currently 89% are based within primary schools and meets the demands of the 29% parents nationally who pointed out the need for places in a recent DfE survey. Establishing new places in deprived areas should provide greater opportunities for all children in the region to get a high quality education and assist in narrowing attainment gaps in later years.

On the launch of the scheme, Mr Hinds said: “Part of making sure our children have the opportunity to take advantage of all the joys of childhood and growing up is supporting them to develop the language and communication skills they need to express themselves.

Sadly, too many children are starting school without these – and all too often, if there’s a gap at the very start of school, it tends to persist, and grow. The only way we are going to solve this is through a relentless focus on improving early communication.”

The initiative is aimed to extend the arrangement with businesses in improving lifelong learning outcomes from the early years through the use of educational apps for development. Among the collaborators are Lego, who have designed games specifically for the EasyPeasy education app platform, which is set to be piloted among 500 families in areas of low social mobility. 

Further reading: DfE Press Release

New computing hubs announced for North East

The 23 hubs chosen to improve computer science education in England have been announced by the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), with three in the North East.

Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Gateshead, Carmel College, Darlington, and Kings Priory School, North Tyneside will all become hubs, which are designed to offer support to local primary and secondary computing teachers, including teaching, resources and continuing professional development (CPD) activities. The hubs will also have links with industry professionals and university academics.

The University of Sunderland has been appointed to be the Regional Delivery Partner for the NCCE for the North East region.

You can read more about the hubs at:

40% of school closures in last decade rural schools, up 20% from previous decade.

Between 2000-2009, 424 schools closed without being replaced and 85 of them were in rural areas.

Since 2010, fewer schools have closed, at 230 but a higher proportion were in rural areas, with 98 closing.

Northumberland had the highest number of closures in the country, with 19 schools closing.

Primary Schools were are the most likely to close, with primaries accounting for 80% of rural school closures since 2000.

The decrease in number of overall closures is likely to be down to academisation, however, rural schools may find this difficult either due to financial reasons or being geographically isolated which can make rural schools less appealing to Multi Academy Trusts.

The figures come amid concerns over funding for schools across the country, with small, rural schools particularly vulnerable to tightening budgets. In 2018 data from the County Councils Network showed that 29 of 36 county councils reduced their expenditure on home to school transport, affecting over 22,000 pupils.

You can read more on this story at

Education links w/c 1/7/19 – Chronicle Live, Haydon Bridge High School making ‘good progress’ – Ofsted. – Chronicle Live, Headteacher who accused Boris Johnson of helping to fuel bullying crisis says it’s his ‘duty’ to speak out. – Chronicle Live, ‘It’s part of our identity’ – Heaton parents hit out at school’s re-branding. – Chronicle Live, Ryton student’s delight after receiving handwritten letter from Sir David Attenborough. – Darlington & Stockton Times, School’s new wildlife area with ‘outdoor classroom’ is now open. – The Northern Echo, Nursery in ship-shape thanks to Darlington College carpenters. – The Northern Echo, Darlington school’s ‘Outstanding’ aspirations inspires Lord Agnew. – Sunderland Echo, See adorable Sunderland youngsters dressed up as their favourite Toy Story characters. – Shields Gazette, Mariners help get pupils in step. – Shields Gazette, South Shields students put on their running shoes for Cancer Research Race for Life. – Hartlepool Mail, Free school meals figures spark benefit fears. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school celebrates achievements in science and the arts. – Hartlepool Mail, Plan for new Hartlepool student development gets thumbs-up from readers. – Gazette Live, New state-of-the-art £1m school hall starting to take shape. – Gazette Live, Parents to be fined up to £120 as rules on school pupil absences get stricter.

Secondary class sizes continue to rise DfE reveals

The average secondary class size has risen to 21.7 in 2019 after increasing for four consecutive years.

Data released by the DfE shows that 8.4% of all secondary school classes have between 31 and 35 pupils, up from 5.6% five years ago.

According to the DfE, as the current population bulge in primary schools moves through the school system, the number of pupils in secondary schools will continue to rise.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the increases in class size are “a direct result of real-terms cuts in school funding”.

These numbers come alongside the department’s school workforce census, which shows a fall in the number of teachers at secondary level. The data also showed that almost a third of teachers leave the profession within five years.

Further reading:

Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2019

School workforce in England: November 2018

Education links w/c 24/06/19 – Northern Echo ‘Report warns difficult decisions now ‘normal’ at schools’ – Northern Echo ‘Thousands of vulnerable Stockton children could lose free school breakfasts’ – Gazette Live ‘’Not good enough’: Teaching standard at Teesside primary school slammed by Ofsted’ – Darlington & Stockton Times ‘Parent wearing gas mask makes apology after ‘shooting’ schoolchildren’ – The Chronicle ‘The 20 North East schools stripped of their outstanding Ofsted status – with one rated inadequate’ – Darlington & Stockton Times ‘Hundreds of youngsters take part in School Games County Final’ – The Chronicle ‘Getting a top job still depends on going to public school in elitist Britain’ – The Chronicle ‘Why hundreds of people were walking together down Heaton Road on Saturday’ – Gazette Live ‘Primary school to open up over the school holidays to feed hungry children’ – Hexham Courant ‘Corbridge chemistry students named best in the North-East’ – Hexham Courant ‘Award celebrates Emily’s achievements’ – Hexham Courant ‘Schoolchildren’s plea for drivers to slow down outside Allendale Primary School’