North East schools advised on careers guidance best practice by experts at FutureReady 2017 conference

FutureReady 2017 helped schools from across the region to access best practice in careers guidance, vital in making sure their pupils are equipped with the knowledge and experiences, along with the key attributes and attitudes, they need to succeed in the 21st century.

The annual conference focusing on good careers guidance in schools brought together more than 100 North East primary and secondary delegates.

A FutureReady 2017 primary school delegate said:

I found the event really helpful and thought provoking. We have started to write next year’s school development plan and included a lot of the topics that came from the conference into it. As a primary teacher it really helped me to focus on my responsibility to teach about different careers and the paths needed for them, along with ideas how to implement it into the curriculum.

Delegates were welcomed by Matthew Freeman, Director of Operations at V•Inspired who kindly sponsored the conference this year.

DSC_0044.JPGDr Anthony Mann of Education and Employers Taskforce, one of the keynote speakers for the day, gave delegates insights into employer engagement in education. He cited surveys conducted by the Taskforce which found that 53% of pupils consider their schools prepared them poorly for adult working life. Dr Mann said there is high demand from pupils for practical employability skills and more knowledge about how “the world of work works”.

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Let’s get Hygge with it

Hilary French profile image
Hilary French, Headmistress at Newcastle High School for Girls

The latest Viking invasion is the antithesis of the marauding pirates of yesteryear; the modern incursion into the UK comes in true peace, in the shape of the Danish lifestyle trend, Hygge.  It is so much easier to write than to say – Hygge –pronounced Hoo ga – isn’t actually meant to be translated; instead you’re meant to ‘feel’ it.

When struggling to find an English definition, Danish people say that the English word ‘cosiness’ is closest to Hygge but this is still not enough to convey its true and fullest meaning.  Hygge is cosiness, warmth, tenderness all wrapped up with wellbeing, family and friends – all rolled into one.

Hygge is the latest buzzword to hit these shores – it was runner up in the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year for 2016 and it has inspired thousands of lifestyle and home interior trends and even more Instagram hashtags and photos.

Unlike other interior and lifestyle movements, like Feng Shui or Shaker, Hygge is a trend that I am hoping to embrace wholeheartedly – I really am struck on Hygge and how it can help us all in today’s frenetic, modern world.  It is not all about the decorative art of beautifying your home with rugs, plump cushions and candle light – it is more about searching for a feeling, reclaiming time and striving and working at happiness, improving well being and switching off.

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MPs urge Government to prove how new grammar schools will close the gap, calling them an “unnecessary distraction”

The Education Select Committee has said the Government’s focus on opening new grammar schools is an “unnecessary distraction”.

The cross-party committee of MPs said ministers still needed to demonstrate how this would improve social mobility and close the gap between rich and poor pupils.

A new report, published last week by the Committee as an evidence check on plans to increase selective education, , urges the Government to demonstrate how its plans will help close the attainment gap within the wider school system, stating that the policy aims set out “differ significantly from the characteristics of grammar schools of the past and present”.

It also calls on the Government to look carefully at the consequences for school funding, the supply of teachers and the “overall health of schools in England”.

Committee members expressed their scepticism at the possibility of making entrance tests for grammar truly “tutor proof”.

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Lack of compulsory sex and relationship education in academies and free schools “a ticking time bomb”, says LGA

The Local Government Association has called for compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) in secondary academies and free schools, in light of the number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) diagnoses “rocketing once young people leave school”.

The representative body for more than 370 council in England and Wales says age-appropriate SRE needs to be an essential part of all secondary schoolchildren’s curriculum, with parents given the choice of opting their child out.

They argue that without this, youngsters are not being prepared for adulthood, and as a result are being diagnosed with a “worryingly high number of sexually transmitted infections”.

The LGA cites statistics that suggest there were 141,060 new diagnoses for 20-24-year-olds in 2015, compared with  78,066 for those aged 15 to 19.

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Body cameras on trial in English schools

A new pilot scheme where teachers wear police-style body cameras is being trialled by two schools in England.

According to a BBC Newsbeat report, a criminal justice researcher from the University of Portsmouth has revealed that all teachers from two “normal” state secondary schools are wearing the cameras during a three-month trial period.

Would you trial body cameras in your school? Please share your opinion with us by submitting your answer here.

The schools cannot be named, but the researcher, Tom Ellis, added:

The teachers will be wearing the cameras very visibly, so there’s no attempt to be covert in any way.

The idea is that everyone is aware that the camera is there and is being used for a specific incident.

Where the teacher feels there’s a threat to themselves or to another student, then there will be evidence of that incident.

Mr Ellis added that the scheme is not focused entirely on controlling bad behaviour.

The TES surveyed 600 teachers about body cameras recently, with more than a third saying they would “willingly” wear them. The main reason they gave was to gather evidence of student behaviour.

Additional reporting from BBC Newsbeat can be accessed here.


Helping our students be READY

Lee Elliott, Head Teacher at Wolsingham School

The beginning of the Autumn term at Wolsingham School was no different to previous years. We, like many schools, had scheduled two days of staff training prior to the arrival of our students. However, this year staff, parents and governors started the new academic year considering one straightforward question, ‘what is the purpose of education at Wolsingham School?’ This marked the start of a new journey for staff and students at Wolsingham School, it was the first step in developing our ‘Ready’ curriculum.

The ‘Ready’ curriculum remained dormant in my mind during my time as a Deputy Headteacher and it was only when I was appointed Headteacher in 2016 that I brought the idea to life. As a parent, I appreciate the importance of academic excellence but also the development of the skills, values and character which enable children to be happy and successful.

The simple question ‘what is the purpose of education?’ threw up a remarkable number of answers and some heated debates. Answers included:

‘To ensure students are the best they can be. Providing opportunities and chances for them to face life’s next challenge’

‘To equip each individual with the transferable skills – academically, socially and holistically – for his/her future’

‘To recognise and maximise individual potential in all areas ready for life!’

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Arts not at odds with the EBacc, says free schools charity

Free schools support charity finds “clear link” between high performance and including arts subjects alongside the core academic subject.

New analysis of trends in GCSE entries over the last five years, carried out by the New Schools Network, shows that the introduction of the EBacc has had “no discernible impact” on the popularity of arts subjects.

The report suggests that, on the contrary, the number of arts GCSEs being taken in the 2015/16 academic year was higher than in 2011/12 when the EBacc had only just been announced.

In those schools where the percentage of children obtaining the EBacc was above the national average in 2015/16, 73.2% of arts entrants achieved an A*-C grade compared to a national average of 71.7%.

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Northern Powerhouse think tank says improving secondary education in the North is top priority

Think tank chaired by George Osborne cites “overwhelming evidence” that attainment at age 16 is “too low” in the North, hindering future generation of region’s employees’ chances of reaching their potential.

nppA new report published by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership says improving educational attainment at 16 should be a priority in the development of the Northern Powerhouse and suggests that eliminating the gap with the rest of the UK in the percentage of good and outstanding secondary schools can be done by building on the approach of the Wilshaw report.

However, education in the North East is grossly underfunded compared to the rest of the country, lagging national average funding by £45m a year, and despite the Government’s plans to distribute the national budget in a fairer way to schools, the North East would only benefit from 0.0058% more of the national share of funding.

The Northern Powerhouse Education Fund is mentioned as an important initiative and evidence of “clear awareness in national government”.

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Working class disadvantage follows from school through to the professions

The Social Mobility Commission published findings that show the gross disparities in pay between professionals from working class backgrounds and their more advantaged colleagues.

The Commission’s research found that people from working class backgrounds who get a professional job are paid an average of £6,800 (17%) less each year than colleagues from more affluent backgrounds.

The report, conducted by London School of Economics and University College London, said that access to Britain’s professions remains “dominated by those from more privileged backgrounds. But even when people from working class backgrounds manage to break into a professional career, they face [an] earnings penalty compared to colleagues who come from better-off backgrounds.”

Even when they have the same education attainment, role and experience as their more privileged colleagues, the report finds that those from poorer backgrounds are still paid an average of £2,242 (7%) less. Women and ethnic minorities face a ‘double’ disadvantage in earnings.

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said:

This unprecedented research provides powerful new evidence that Britain remains a deeply elitist society.

Too many people from working class backgrounds not only face barriers getting into the professions, but also barriers to getting on. It cannot be right that they face an annual class pay gap of £6,800.

Many professional firms are doing excellent work to open their doors to people from all backgrounds, but this research suggests much more needs to be done to ensure that Britain is a place where everyone has an equal chance of success regardless of where they have come from.

How much you are paid should be determined by your ability not your background. Employers need to take action to end the shocking class earnings penalty. The commission will be sending major employers details of this research and asking them how they intend to close the class pay gap.

But issues stem from earlier on in working class people’s lives. Last year, the Sutton Trust released findings which showed that, nationally, white British boys on Free School Meals achieve the lowest grades of any main ethnic group and have now been either the lowest or second lowest performing ethnic group every year for a decade. White British FSM girls are also the lowest performing main female ethnic group.

The problem of white working class underachievement is particularly important to the North East, as the region is both more white and more working class than the others. The recently released revised key stage 4 results demonstrate this.

Of all the English regions, the North East had the whitest year 11 cohort last year – 93.81% compared to 79.53% nationally.

On average, white pupils in the North East had the lowest Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores in the region:

Average Attainment 8 score per pupil Average Progress 8 score per pupil
White 48.6 -0.19
Mixed 52.3 0.13
Asian 53.1 0.53
Black 51.0 0.56
Chinese 61.2 0.85
All 48.7 -0.16

The North East has the joint lowest average Attainment 8 score for white pupils (along with the East Midlands) and the second lowest average Progress 8 score (after the North West).

The table below shows the performance of year 11s by the IDACI (Income deprivation affecting children index) score for the postcode in which they live. The North East had the highest proportion of year 11s living in the most deprived areas.


SCHOOLS NorthEast will be holding an event on how schools can tackle underachievement and raise attainment amongst white working class pupils. The conference will look at a range of the key issues, including: how we define ‘white working class’; how schools can identify students at risk of underachievement; and, measures schools can take to prevent this from happening. It will also include a focus on the specific challenges faced by coastal schools. For more information, please visit our website. To book your place at the event, please contact


Nick Gibb “comfortable” with how schools handle cost pressures

Labour MP for Newcastle North Catherine McKinnell has pressed the Schools Minister during an Education Committee session, on whether he was “comfortable” with the way schools have been dealing with cost pressures.

21481962596_80d938ab6d_kThis comes after school leaders told MPs of being forced to make teaching and support staff redundant and cut other costs just to stay afloat, with one Head Teacher revealing that he’d cut teaching “to the bare bones” in his school.

Mr Gibb said that despite it being challenging, the Government is providing advice and support to schools about how to manage a budget “in the most efficient way”.

Last week, during a similar session with the Committee, the Schools Minister insisted that the new funding formula will be fairer and the Department is trying its best to deal with “an historic budget deficit”.

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