Female oppression through quest for perfection

Hilary French profile imageYour eyebrows are ‘on fleek’! Your hair is ‘on point’ – your outfit is ‘peng’ – all expressions and phrases that I have heard girls bandy about this week to compliment one another – the worrying undercurrent of all this ‘flattery’ is a dangerous obsession with appearance.  Focusing on how girls look and not what they achieve was one of the alarming highlights of the annual survey of girls’ attitudes published by the Girlguiding association last week.

Social oppression of women is now being exerted not by divisions of labour, or the lack of a vote, but more by a quest for physical perfection and an expectation that women and girls will look and behave in a certain way.

Girls are doing it to themselves and to each other – putting too much emphasis on looking the part – it has always been thus, but now with social media the pressures are even greater and there’s no escape.  This morbid fascination with make up, highlighters, contour kits and brushes is adding fuel to the national obsession with judging women on looks not achievements.

Women and girls are exposed to the airbrushed ‘body beautiful’ 24 hours a day via social media and it comes into their home, onto their phones and laptops and is insidiously chipping away at self-confidence and self-esteem.  Girls as young as seven say they feel under pressure to be perfect and many feel they fall short.

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Schools Minister says schools should only collect data required to improve children’s education

21481962596_80d938ab6d_kNick Gibbs told the Education Select Committee on Wednesday (19 October) that schools should ensure they are only collecting data that is required to improve their pupils education.

The Schools Minister said it is important to return to “simply marking” pupils’ work so that it’s graded, adding that “time consuming written dialogue between the teacher and pupil on the face of the exercise book” is not needed. He reiterated that there is no Ofsted-expected approach to lessons, data collection, demonstrating progress or marking.

According to Mr Gibbs, the Department of Education is taking issues around teacher supply “very seriously”, but they cannot “micromanage” and is limited in what it can do other than ensuring a good spread of the training.

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Education Committee Primary Assessment Inquiry: your thoughts

On 23 September, the House of Commons Education Committee launched an inquiry into primary assessment. According to the Committee’s website, “This inquiry scrutinises reforms to primary assessment and their impact on teaching and learning in primary schools. It also covers the wider effects of assessment on primary schools, as well as possible next steps for Government policy.”

The topics that this inquiry will be covering are as follows:

– The purpose of primary assessment and how well the current system meets this;
– The advantages and disadvantages of assessing pupils at primary school;
– How the most recent reforms have affected teaching and learning;
– Logistics and delivery of the SATs;
– Training and support needed for teachers and senior leaders to design and implement effective assessment systems;
– Next steps following the most recent reforms to primary assessment.

It was clear from the SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit last week that primary school leaders in the region have strong feelings on assessment and we are keen that the voice of North East schools is heard. We will therefore be submitting a response to this consultation on behalf of our schools.

We would really appreciate you taking the time to fill out this survey, which will determine the content of our submission.

Justine Greening sets out new primary assessment plans

justine-greening-9Education Secretary Justine Greening announced yesterday that plans to make pupils resit Sats will be axed. 

This was part of new plans drawn up by the Secretary of State to “improve and simplify assessment arrangements”.

In her ministerial statement, Ms Greening said: “we will not introduce statutory mathematics and reading resits on children’s arrival in year 7. Rather, we will focus on the steps needed to ensure a child catches up lost ground.”

Resit papers will be made available for teachers to use if they wish, as part of ongoing assessments. The Government will also introduce a targeted package of support for struggling pupils.

Under the new plans, the KS1 grammar, punctuation and spelling test will remain non-statutory for schools this year.

The Education Secretary also mentioned that the pace and scale of assessment changes “has been stretching”.

Ms Greening added: “It is important that we now set out a clear path to a settled system where our collective focus can be on achieving strong educational outcomes for all children.

There has been significant change in recent years, but the timeline from this point will bring greater stability, with no new national tests or assessments introduced before the 2018 to 2019 academic year.”

The Education Secretary promised more information on primary assessment and accountability at the SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit on Thursday 13 October: “it will be soon. Hold that pen, keep it poised.”

Schools Week noted that Year 7 resits were a pledge in the Conservative manifesto.



Gateshead pupils rank 8th nationally in EYFSP score

The average Early Years foundation stage profile results for Gateshead children place the Local Authority in the top 10 across England.

The Department for Education has today published statistics that show the average EYFSP total point score for children in the North East has increased from 33.9 to 34.4; this is higher than the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands and the West Midlands.

Based on this data, Gateshead had the highest average total point score, 36.2, placing it in 8th, whilst Redcar and Cleveland had the lowest (32.2).

Of the North East Local Authorities, Northumberland had the highest proportion of pupils achieving at least expected level across all Early Learning Goals (ELGs) (71.7%), whilst Middlesbrough had the lowest (57.4% – the fourth lowest in the country).

By comparing the proportion of North East pupils who achieved at least the expected level in each of the ELGs with the equivalent proportion of pupils in England as a whole, we can identify areas of relative strength and weakness in the North East:

  Areas of relative strength Areas of relative weakness
1 Self-confidence and self-awareness Health and self-care
2 Managing feelings and behaviour Speaking
3 Technology Numbers
4 Understanding Moving and handling
5 Making relationships Being imaginative

Opportunities for North East young people get boost at House of Lords event

The need to further improve young peoples’ access to life-changing opportunities in the North East was pushed into the national spotlight yesterday (19 October) at the House of Lords, Westminster.

Teenagers and MPs from across the North East joined influential delegates from the region and nationally at a National Citizen Service (NCS) North East event, which was sponsored by labour peer Lord Lennie of Longsands, at the parliamentary venue.

Event highlights included a key note speech by MP Anna Turley, which emphasised the ways in which NCS is benefiting communities in her constituency of Redcar and Cleveland.

Anna said: “NCS puts young people in the driving seat of positive, proactive social action – they decide where and how they want to help; it’s all totally youth led. In my constituency, projects have included cleaning up the local beach, raising awareness of mental health, improving facilities at a pet shelter – and contributing to a family fun day for households affected by closures in the iron and steel industry.

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Show me the money!

'SCHOOL NETWORK' 4.pngIn the film ‘Jerry Maguire’, Tom Cruise is an agent for a NFL player played by Cuba Gooding. In a memorable scene Gooding’s character keeps repeating the same refrain, “Show me the money” as a means of stating very clearly that he was looking for an improved contract with his team.

As a high school Head Teacher in Northumberland for over 10 years, in two very different schools, I often feel like shouting, “Show me the money!” – even more so in the last few years as talk of a national fair funding formula has gained momentum. My worry is that realising a national fair formula will take far too long – it has already been delayed by over a year due to ministerial changes, with 2018 being bandied around as the new date for implementation. That is simply not good enough for children currently in the system and who are moving through schools that are scandalously underfunded.

Are we really underfunded?

According to the 2015 DfE Performance Tables Ponteland High School received income of £4558 per pupil, whilst the median figure for Northumberland was £5473 and the national median was £5894.

Had we been funded at the median level for Northumberland we would have increased our budget by over £1 million and by in excess of £1.5 million had we been funded at the national median rate – what a difference that would have made to our students and staff!

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Twelve North East schools lauded for changing lives

Emmanuel College - NCS NE Regional Ambassador School.jpgNorth East teenagers led an awards ceremony this week, in which a dozen schools representing every local authority in the region were recognised for their outstanding work in changing lives through the youth movement National Citizen Service (NCS).

At the ceremony on Thursday (October 6), Emmanuel College was unveiled as the first ever Regional Ambassador School for NCS by Gateshead MP Ian Mearns, who also gave an upbeat keynote speech in which he highlighted the positive impact of NCS at a local level, on families in his constituency and beyond.

Ian Mearns MP said: “We’ve seen engagement in NCS at Emmanuel College go from strength to strength, which is why they’ve been selected for this prestigious status.”

Kim Smith, Contract Director of NCS North East, a partnership of vInspired, National Youth Agency (NYA) and twelve local delivery partners from the voluntary and community sector across the region, said: “In less than a year, young people from the North East have ploughed a staggering 147,000 volunteering hours in to good causes through NCS. That’s an economic contribution of just under £1million to the North East economy, based on the minimum wage.”

School leadership teams were joined at the NCS North East Schools Awards 2016 by decision makers from the education, youth and voluntary sectors – showcasing local commitment to maximising the benefits of the government-backed programme for young people in the North East.

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