EDUCATION in the North East is at the centre of policy discussions at the heart of Government like never before, according to national leaders.
Delegates at the Summit were told that the region was dominating the debate and that the influencing voice of Schools North East, alongside other bodies, had propelled the region’s needs up the political agenda.
Praise for the region’s lobbying voice came during a panel discussion at yesterday’s Schools North East Summit which was chaired by Ann Mroz, TES Editor, with Maura Regan, CEO of Carmel Education Trust, Sally Green, Head Teacher at Thornhill Primary School in Shildon, County Durham, Mark Lehain, Director of the New Schools Network, Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First and John D’Abbro, Head of the New Rush Hall Group.
Ms Mroz told the audience: “‘Schools North East has played a huge part in making the NE part of the London conversation.”
This was echoed by Mr Lehain, who said the North East increasingly comes up in discussions with Ministers. He added: “The people with the money know they need to spend it in the North East.”
Panellists debated the announcement of the £24m Opportunity North East programme, announced by the Education Secretary Damian Hinds in the region on Monday, and reflected on HMCI Amanda Spielman’s keynote speech at the conference earlier that day.
Opportunity North East
Sally Green said working together has to be the way forward. The system has become fragmented and this is an opportunity to come together going forward. She said Schools North East is a great vehicle for doing this.
Mark Lehain said there hasn’t been a better time for regional school leaders to tell the Government what they want.
Russell Hobby asked whether too much focus on structure could in fact be part of the problem. We need to begin with outcomes and ask what difference teachers in the classroom would notice from our actions. A few things done well that every teacher could feel would make a big difference.
Ofsted 2019 Framework and Amanda Spielman’s speech
Maura Regan welcomed HMCI’s keynote speech, saying she thought it was “fantastic”, but said the difficulty is inspectors are varied in their approaches, e.g. some want to see a lot of data and others don’t. There is an engrained mindset at Ofsted that will not easily shift. For example, would Ofsted really put a school in RI if they had outstanding results, regardless of anything else.
John D’Abbro said children don’t come to school with the goal of being disaffected. We need to use applied learning and show where the curriculum you’re offering fits into their life chances. Sometimes children don’t see the leap between their learning and their life chances.
Mark Lehain said he was torn by Amanda Spielman’s speech. He said we shouldn’t be doing these things just because Ofsted want us to. The question is how will this look in an inspection? When you have half an hour in an inspection how are they going to evidence a broad and balanced curriculum? It could end up either a mess or with everyone getting good results. We need more detail about how it’s going to work.
Russell Hobby said that what tends to happen in education is we identify a problem and put an intervention into that area, which is completely the wrong approach. We need an accountability framework that recognises that these things take time. If we could measure results over the long-term we would see much better outcomes.