Only 23% of North East Schools will see funding increased

Data released from the House of Commons has shown that the North East is the region which will see the least additional funding outside of London.

Planned changes to minimum school funding: Schools affected by constituency, House of Commons Library

Under the proposed three year funding plan, 137 schools will see some funding increases in 2020-21, however, proportionally, this is lower than elsewhere in the country.

The data highlights how using the Minimum Funding Level as a means to distribute the promised increases means that schools in areas like the North East, with the greatest numbers of ‘high impact’ long term deprived children who require the greatest support, will effectively lose out.  

The recent EPI report highlighted how disadvantaged students in the North East can be on average 20 months behind their peers at secondary level, with every North East Local Authority exceeding the national average of 18 months. This ‘deprivation gap’ illustrates the need for additional support in areas of long term, high impact economic disadvantage.

Funding levels are key to closing this gap, which becomes apparent from the significant amounts invested in deprived areas of London. In Tower Hamlets over a third of pupils are classed as persistently deprived and the deprivation gap is just 5.3 months. In Middlesbrough, where 18.9% pupils are persistently deprived, the deprivation gap has widened to 18.8 months.

However, the proposed funding distribution will not invest further in the areas that need it most. In Hartlepool for example, disadvantaged students at secondary level are up to 23 months behind their peers, yet the figures released show that no secondary schools in the area will receive any additional funding. Furthermore, only two out of 30 Hartlepool primary schools will see their funding increased.

Schools North East Director of Operations, Chris Zarraga, said, ‘The additional funding on offer does nothing to support our hard working school leaders or our students as they try to narrow the attainment gap with more advantaged areas. Far greater support from the Government is needed, specifically targeted at those areas dealing with the greatest problems.’


Education links w/c 09/09/19

Number of pupils being excluded in Northumberland falls, ChronicleLive,

Northumberland school shake-up on the cards after cabinet approves conversion plans, ChronicleLive,

Durham Sixth Form Centre to be transformed into car park, Chronicle Live,

Winning Northumberland schools presented with their Tour of Britain design jersey, Northumberland Gazette,

Spotlight on school exclusions as unruly kids ‘have door shut in their faces 9,000 times’, Teeside Live,

Bamburgh School leads the way with South Shields’ first climate change teacher, The Shields Gazette,

Government announces drive to boost standards in schools

Measures including changes to Ofsted inspections, support for struggling schools and a dedicated new academy trust in the North ‘to take on the most challenging schools’ have been announced by the Department for Education.

These new plans follow Friday’s announcement for a funding boost for education over three years.

The announcement was focused around ‘driving standards’ and included plans to:

  • Reintroduce regular inspections for ‘Outstanding’ schools
  • Provide support to the most challenging ‘Requires Improvement’ schools by offering help from experienced school leaders and evidence-based support programmes
  • Pilot a new academy trust in the north, to take on the most challenging schools where there is no another academy trust available
  • Building on the existing fund to support successful academy trusts to expand where improvement is most needed
  • Expand the School Resource Management programme
  • Introduce a rating for financial management with Ofsted

The announcement to reintroduce regular inspections for schools that were previously exempt due to an ‘outstanding’ grade, has been welcomed by many, to ensure high standards are maintained. However, as the exemption was written into legislation, it will require a bill to be put forward in Parliament to overturn this, meaning it could be some time before the exemption is lifted.

Any support targeted at schools in challenging circumstances is positive, however it must be recognised that when allocating this support, the experts and academy trusts must be aligned to the social, economic and geographical challenge of areas such as the North East which has high populations of white working class students affected by long term economic deprivation. We hope that the evidence based programmes mentioned are central to this support. This year we have launched an evidence based programme for the North East, Ednorth, in order to change the culture of education to focus on what we know works in the classroom in order to raise standards.

The expansion of the School Resource Management Programme and new plans for a financial rating are more controversial aspects of the proposals, though the DfE is yet to release details of how these plans will be implemented.

Schools North East is committed to supporting schools in the region affected by the impact of these different proposals. We will be putting more plans into place as more information becomes available, so please keep an eye on Schools North East channels.

What will the three-year funding plan mean for North East schools?

Last week’s funding announcement may have come as a surprise to many, signalling a three year investment in education ahead of the spending review.

The funding package for 5-16 schools includes an extra:

  • £2.6 billion for 2020/21
  • £4.8 billion for 21/22
  • £7.1 billion for 22/23

This will bring the schools budget to £52.2bn in 22/23. And means that it will bring all secondary schools up to a minimum funding level of £5,000 per pupil next year, with every primary school at a minimum funding level of £4,000 from 2021/22.

The deal includes £700 million extra for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in 2020/21.

Initial concerns were that schools currently making cuts will not see any increases until April next year, and for the first year, the amount promised comes well below the amount required to reverse the 8% real terms decrease in funding from 2009.

Moreover, there have been questions around how the government can commit to a three year plan in the midst of Brexit negotiations and calls for a General Election.

Since the announcements, more work has been done to explore what the amounts mean, with the EPI illustrating how the distribution of funding will mean that already disadvantaged schools are likely to lose out, as they are less likely to receive a share of the funding in the first instance and more likely to feel the impact of the salary increases for new teachers.

The EPI’s analysis of this funding method shows that ‘the north east would receive the lowest additional funding’.

There are further questions from schools around how the funding will be rolled out, especially to academies and alternative provision which are yet to be answered. Schools North East will continue to monitor the impact of this announcement on the region’s schools.

If you would like to let us know how the funding announcement will affect your school, you can submit your thoughts to

Major SEN review announced

A major review into Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision has been announced by the Department for Education, which aims to equip staff in schools and colleges to respond effectively to their students’ needs, improve the services available to families who need support, as well as ending the ‘postcode lottery’ they often face.

The review will explore how the system can be made to work best for all families and how to standardise quality of provision across the country, as well as how to implement more joined-up approaches with the Department of Health and Social Care.

The announcement promises that the review will be followed by actions on these issues. Tony McArdle, Lead Commissioner in Northamptonshire County Council, will be the new chair of the SEND System Leadership Board, and will act as an independent advisor to the review, alongside Education Endowment Foundation Chair, Sir Kevan Collins, and Anne Heavey, National Director of Whole School SEN.

As the North East has one of the highest percentages of SEN pupils in the country, with 15.8% of total pupils, higher than the national average, it is incredibly important that the review follows through on the DfE’s promise to standardise quality of provision. Moreover, the North East has received less funding for SEN than other regions, and so any action from this review needs to be paired with sufficient funding to put this into place.

Education links w/c 02/09/19 – Chronicle Live, ‘It is a joke’: School uniform fury after claims pupils told to ‘cut bows off their brand new shoes’. – Chronicle Live, Chancellor Sajid Javid confirms funding increases for North East schools, hospitals and police. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Former Rosebrook Primary Deputy Head to set out on Incan trail. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Homework a common cause of stress among Darlington school children.—one-suspending-half-pupils/ – The Northern Echo, Sharp rise in school exclusions rate in North-East – with one suspending more than half of pupils. – Sunderland Echo, Back to school: Picture special as Sunderland children start new term. – Sunderland Echo, These are the term dates for 2019 and 2020 as Sunderland heads back to school. – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland Echo readers back strict line on school uniform. – Gazette Live, More than 200 new school places for 2020 as council looks to avoid repeat of fiasco. – Gazette Live, Tens of millions to be pumped into crumbling Stockton schools and nurseries – here’s where it’s going. – Gazette Live, School applications 2020: The most popular Teesside primary and secondary schools revealed. – Hartlepool Mail, Back to school: Picture special as Hartlepool children start new term. – Hartlepool Mail, These are the term dates for 2019 and 2020 as Hartlepool heads back to school. – Shields Gazette, Back to school: Picture special as South Tyneside children start new term. – Shields Gazette, These are the term dates for 2019 and 2020 as South Tyneside heads back to school.

Schools North East response to Prime Minister Schools Funding Announcement

Commenting on today’s announcement from the Prime Minister on a three year additional funding plan for schools in England, Schools North East Director of Operations Chris Zarraga said,

‘We welcome the government’s decision to respond to the repeated calls from ourselves and other organisations, to resolve the funding crisis in education. However, schools will not receive this funding until April 2020.  The figures promised for next year do not go far enough to resolve the £4.2 billion funding gap identified by Schools North East, which would return funding to 2009 levels.’[1]

Moreover, an overall increase in funding does not address the significant impact that long term deprivation has on the academic performance and subsequent life chances of students in areas such as the North East. We reiterate our call for the government to urgently review the effects of high impact disadvantage on students and to ensure that any new funding is targeted to address this most effectively; especially in relation to regions like the North East where austerity measures have hit hard.’

Schools North East will be exploring these figures and the impact this will have on the region in more depth as further details are released by the government, with further analysis to follow.

[1] Based on Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) figures that, over the last 10 years, funding per pupil has fallen by 8% (in inflation-adjusted terms).

GCSE Results 2019

Congratulations to all of our students on the results they have received today across the region.

While there have been many great successes for students and schools, regionally, the North East has seen decreases in both pass rates and top grades. This decline now sets us further behind other regions in KS4 achievement. 1

Today’s results saw the third wave of reformed GCSEs awarded, with the large majority of subjects now reformed. Results across the country have been in a state of flux since the first reforms, with grades for all regions taking a dip in 2017, when the new Maths and English qualifications were introduced. Since then, most regions results have improved, with some returning to, or exceeding the pre-reform level of 2016. However, both for top grades and overall pass rate the North East had improved at a slower rate than most regions. With this year’s decreases we remain behind 2016 figures. 

Disadvantage in the North East

The recent Education Policy Institute report highlighted that secondary students in disadvantaged areas fall 18 months behind their peers by age 16. In all of the region’s local authorities, the disadvantage gap exceeded the national average.  We know that within the North East there is a far higher concentration of children experiencing the highest impact, long-term disadvantage than elsewhere in the country.2

Schools North East Director of Operation Chris Zarraga said ‘Congratulations to our students across the region. While we celebrate the achievements of many students, it is evident that today’s results show a continuing challenge for the North East since the reformed GCSEs were introduced. We know teachers and schools across the region have been working hard to close the ‘gap’ in attainment, yet much more needs to be done by the Government to ensure that any proposed future increases in funding are targeted to challenge the significant impact of disadvantage faced by students in deprived areas like the North East.’

In addition to disadvantaged students already being up to 18 months behind their peers, today it was also announced that an ASCL survey found 80% of school leaders believed that the new GCSEs were detrimental to lower ability students. Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, said: “The government has seen increased rigour as an end in itself without fully considering what it wants the exam system to achieve for all students of all abilities.

“As a result, we now have a set of GCSEs which are extremely hard to access for students with lower prior attainment. This is incredibly stressful and demoralising for these young people.”3

Post 16 destinations

While we welcome the optimism of Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson’s statement today that there ‘has never been a better time to go into further study’, it is evident from the EPI report that there is not an equality of opportunity for students at post-16. There is a correlation between the disadvantage gap above and the ‘Segregation Gap’ (the gap between disadvantaged students who go on to vocational FE vs A Levels). As well as having a higher disadvantage gap, areas in the North East generally have higher segregation gaps, meaning fewer disadvantaged pupils go on to A Levels than elsewhere in the country. Again, more needs to be done to ensure targeted funding can help to close this gap and support disadvantaged students to have a broader range of options at post-16.

The National Picture

  • 1 in 5 pupils achieving a grade 7 and above
  • Almost a third of pupils failing to secure a pass; a statistic that remains consistent with pre-reform levels
  • The gender gap at grade 4 narrowed by 0.3% as expected due to the majority of reformed subjects being wholly/mainly exam based.
  • 66.4% of the 837 pupils who achieved straight grade 9s were girls.
  • Girls remain on top for securing top grades; 24.1% achieved grade 7 compared to 17.6% boys entries.
  • EBacc entries increased by 3.8%, with arts entries also increasing by 3.2%.
  • In both English and maths, the resit pass rate has fallen to 31.9% and 22.3% respectively for 17 year olds.



2. According to EPI’s Annual report, secondary School Persistent Disadvantage: Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland all in top 20 share of persistent disadvantage. Also see Education Data Lab on long term disadvantage (


North East improves rate of top grades despite challenges of long term deprivation

Congratulations to all pupils, teachers and schools for their hard work and success.
Today’s A Level results show that the North East has been the only region to see an improvement in top grades, rising to 23%, while nationally top grades have fallen by 0.9%.
Data also shows that our pass rate has risen once again, to 98.3% and continues to be the highest of any region.

This year’s A Levels are the third year of the more rigorous reformed A Levels, with all subjects now linear two year courses. As such it is a real achievement for the region to see increases in top grades and overall passes, especially given that top grades have fallen across the rest of the country.

Schools North East Director of Operations, Chris Zarraga, said: Huge congratulations go to our students across the region. Their achievements are a testament to their hard work, and the professionalism of teachers and school leaders across our region.”

These positive results are in contrast to the recent Education Policy Institute report which highlighted that secondary students in disadvantaged areas were between 20-24 months behind their peers at age 16, and showed that the North East suffers some of the largest gaps in the country. We know that within the North East there is a far higher concentration of children experiencing the highest impact, long-term disadvantage than elsewhere in the country.  

Chris said “The region’s performance at A-level shows how hard the region’s schools work to close this ‘gap’. However, they also illustrate that much more needs to be done by the Government to ensure that any proposed future increases in funding are targeted to challenge the significant impact of disadvantage faced by students in deprived areas like the North East.  Sixth Forms have faced some of the steepest cuts with funding falling by 26% per pupil since 2010. This needs to be urgently resolved.”

Schools North East calls for urgent government review into the effects of high impact disadvantage on student attainment

In response to a story that states children in disadvantaged parts of the North are 18 months behind their wealthier peers.

The EPI’s Annual Report, released yesterday, highlights that nationally the gap between disadvantaged students and the rest of their peers has widened at the secondary level. For primary schools, the disadvantage gap continues to narrow, but the early year’s gap has begun to open up again. 

Chris Zarraga, Director of Operations Schools North East, said, “The report is timely and welcome.  No one wants to accept that a child’s future will be determined by their past or where they are born, but sadly this is too often the case.  The news that the attainment gap in secondary schools has widened for the first time in eight years, although disappointing, comes as no surprise and signals the urgency with which the new Prime Minister must act to deliver on the vital funding he has pledged for the education sector.”

The North East’s schools and colleges are utterly committed to closing the disadvantage gap and work tirelessly to improve the life chances of young people from deprived backgrounds.  However, the disadvantaged gap begins early and continues to grow throughout a child’s education.  In the North East the most deprived children fall behind their classmates in the early years by approx. 4.6 months. The secondary disadvantage gap has grown with the least affluent children falling 20 months behind the more affluent members of their class.

Unfortunately, these figures have led to a simplistic narrative that the North East’s primaries are good, but the secondaries ‘need to try harder’.  It also leads to claims of a ‘North South gap’ and the inevitable comparison with ‘higher performing’ London schools.  This is absolutely not the case.   

Deprivation, especially income-related, is a valid measure for comparing pupils differing levels of achievement, but it is far more revealing to measure what is happening with regard to students suffering from high impact disadvantage.  We know that within the North East there is a far higher concentration of children experiencing the highest impact, long-term disadvantage.  The academic achievement of those students cannot be directly compared to non high impact deprived students within London, or local authorities that have far lower numbers of such students.   

The work of academics, such as Durham University’s Professor Stephen Gorard, show that once you account for the impact of long-term deprivation, the region’s secondaries perform as well as any in the country.  Neither ‘the south’ nor London performs better, let alone significantly more so, with students from those backgrounds.

Furthermore, Professor Michael Jopling of the University of Wolverhampton points out “secondary pupils are generally more exposed to austerity measures than primary pupils.  This needs to be explored further in relation to regions like the North East where austerity measures have hit hard.”

Schools North East calls on the government to urgently review the effects of high impact disadvantage on student attainment and the most effective measures to combat it.

Chris Zarraga concluded, “Schools North East welcomes the new Prime Minister’s commitment to invest £4.6bn in education.  However, he must ensure that this funding is targeted appropriately at those areas, such as the North East, that face the greatest challenges from high impact deprivation and that funding is used to support those methods that are proven to be most effective with the most deprived students.”