Northern Education Trust responds to latest Ofsted judgement

Earlier this week, Ofsted published their judgement after inspecting the Northern Education Trust. The Trust’s response to this can be read in full below:

The Trust welcomed the request made by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector to carry out a focused review of nine of twenty of our academies in November 2016. We are pleased that the review recognises that “Principals and governors are fulsome in their praise for the support they receive”. Such acknowledgement is rare in a review of this kind. They also identify the challenge of the task of taking on schools “that have much higher levels of deprivation found nationally”.

We also welcome the review’s appreciation that “the school improvement strategy is on a firmer footing”. However, we are astonished by the lateness of the report which is therefore incapable of recognising the effect of the significant developments in our school improvement strategy since 2016. Ofsted has apologised for the inconvenience that the delay has caused, but we recognise that the regional offices are under increasing pressure due to their diminishing capacity.

We have made significant new appointments, injected substantial resources and made major changes to our systems over the last six months.

We are also concerned that there has been no acknowledgement of the Trust’s existing ‘Supporting Schools to Improve’ policy and arrangements despite evidence of this being supplied to Ofsted twice.

The Northern Education Trust took on the challenge of working with a group of schools, most of which had a history of endemic failure, at the request of the DfE and local authorities four year ago. When NET took them over from local authorities, many schools were not popular with parents and carers. Often they were not financially sustainable and they had limited support from business and local communities. Indeed, one could reasonably argue that many fell into the category that the Education Select Committee recently called ‘untouchable’ schools.

Continue reading “Northern Education Trust responds to latest Ofsted judgement”

SCHOOLS NorthEast responds to stage 2 of the NFF consultation

In December 2016, the Department for Education announced it was seeking views on the detailed design of the schools national funding formula, as part of the second stage of its consultation.

SCHOOLS NorthEast has submitted a response on behalf of schools in our region. Changes to the funding structure will have an impact on all of our schools and we are concerned that the proposed formula does not give North East schools a fair deal. In particular, the Government has included an Area Cost Adjustment multiplier which takes money away from our region on the basis of low house prices.

Even schools that look like they will gain from the national funding formula are likely to experience cuts as a result of the under-funding of the schools system. We have urged the Government to increase the size of the budget.

You can read our response in full below. We also urged school leaders across the region to submit their own response, either individually or as part of a cluster or local authority.

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North East schools forced to ask parents to help fill funding blackhole

The Head Teachers of two schools in the region have written to parents with a plea for donations, as both schools face losing hundreds of thousands of pounds in the next few years.

Dozens of school leaders in Darlington also reached out to parents, urging them to lobby the Government over the funding crisis by writing to the Education Secretary and the Schools Minister.

New research conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says the proposed national funding formula could leave 1,000 schools across the country facing additional cuts of 7% beyond 2019-20. The National Audit Office forecast a £3bn shortfall in school budgets in the next couple of years.

Parents of children attending Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham and Hexham Middle school were told the quality of provision is at “genuine risk”, as the school leaders of both institutions expressed their worry at the impact the funding cuts will have on pupils.

Two teaching unions warned that Queen Elizabeth High School could lose £521,172 by 2019, while Hexham Middle School would see a dent of £176,258 in its budget over the next two years.

The Chronicle reported that one of the letters reads:

We do not undertake this step lightly. However, the reduction in funding over the next few years in the face of rising costs puts at genuine risk the quality of provision to which we have become accustomed at both our schools.

We appreciate that some families are hard pressed and will not be able to make a financial contribution, which is absolutely fine.

However, for those who are able – be it parents of existing students, former students or indeed members of the wider community – it will help enormously.

According to the paper, parents are being asked to donate voluntarily by a single payment or setting up a regular standing order.

While not wanting to “cause panic”, the letters from Darlington Heads expressed worries at the “lack of regard for the next generation”.

This comes after Head Teachers representing around 3,000 schools in England wrote to their local MPs and ministers calling for a rethink of school funding plans.

Around 4,000 school governors recently surveyed by the BBC called the prospects for schools under the proposed arrangements as “diabolical”, “devastating” and “catastrophic”, with some respondents describing their “desperate” attempts at fundraising to fill gaps.

Whilst SCHOOLS NorthEast welcomed the decision to create a new National Funding Formula, we have been campaigning against certain aspects of the proposed plans, particularly the Area Cost Adjustment which will give additional money to schools in more expensive areas than the NE.

The deadline for responses to the Government’s second stage of the National Funding Formula consultation was yesterday. SCHOOLS NorthEast responded on behalf of Head Teachers in our region – you can read our views here.

SCHOOLS NorthEast Patron’s Dinner celebrates education in the region

Last week, SCHOOLS NorthEast held its annual Patron’s Dinner in celebration of education and schools in the region.


The event is held every year in honour of our Patron Lord Puttnam of Queensgate and brings together hundreds of school leaders and educationalists from the region and beyond for an evening of fine-dining.

SCHOOLS NorthEast Patron Lord Puttnam, Prof. Dame Sue Bailey, SCHOOLS NorthEast Chair John Hardy and SCHOOLS NorthEast Director Mike Parker

This year, the Patron’s Dinner was held at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle, which is the UK’s largest independent contemporary commercial art gallery.



School leaders, educationalists and supporters attending had the chance to enjoy a glass of champagne whilst admiring the designs in the main gallery, before the dinner commenced.




Guests were welcomed by our Chairman John Hardy and listened to the inspirational story of Gary Fildes, Founder Director and lead astronomer at the Kielder Observatory, who talked us through his journey from bricklayer to founding one of the most remarkable and unique visitor attractions in the country.



Our long-serving Board member Cherry Diemoz (Breckon Hill Primary School in Middlesbrough) and Trustee Bernard Trafford (Royal Grammar School in Newcastle) were praised for their fantastic work, that didn’t only benefit their schools, but education as a whole in the North East. We would like to, once again, wish them a long and joyous retirement.

DSC_0323.JPG   DSC_0305.JPG

The night came to a close when the winners of our Roald Dahl themed quiz were announced and awarded – congratulations to the team at Vision for Education!


We would like to thank the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), Durham University for all their support and for choosing to sponsor this event yet again. We would also like to thank the following Commercial Supporters:

Avec Partnership
Calibre Secured Network
EYPS Teaching Supply
First Class Supply & Training
Newcastle University
Premier Teachers
PS Financials
Sika Liquid Plastics
United Carlton Office Systems
University of Sunderland
Vision for Education

Many thanks to everyone who attended, we enjoyed your great company and we hope you had a fantastic time!



Number of teacher training recruits drops

Figures published yesterday by UCAS reveal a drop of almost 7% in acceptances to teacher training programmes in England and Wales in 2016-17.

But the North East is the region faring the best in the country in terms of placing trainee teachers.

In England and Wales, only 26,000 recruits were accepted on to teacher training courses for 2016-17, as government targets for recruitment in the profession have been missed for five consecutive years. This is a decrease of 1,900 acceptances since last year.

The North East has the highest proportion of teacher training recruits, with over 60% (1,210) of the 2,000 existing applicants in the region having been placed. Overall, 1,300 applicants from across the country got a place with a North East provider out of a total of 5,700 applications.

However, both the number of applicants from the region and applications to North East providers have decreased by over 2.6% compared to last year.

SCHOOLS NorthEast launched an initiative last year aimed at helping schools in the region recruit the best possible candidates to fill their teaching and supply vacancies. This jobs board was created by schools for schools and it is a cost-effective solution to their recruitment needs. It can cost as little as £150 to advertise unlimited vacancies for a year. Please visit to see the website, or email for further details. 

Speaking to the BBC, Malcolm Trobe, acting general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

There are severe teacher shortages in schools across the country, particularly in maths and science.

Schools have to rely upon supply staff and non-specialists to teach many classes.

MPs show great deal of interest in mental health commission launched by SCHOOLS NorthEast

On Tuesday, the Health and Education select committees held a joint session to take evidence from experts on the role of education in children and young people’s mental health. One of these experts was Professor Dame Sue Bailey, who co-chairs Healthy MindED – the first schools-led commission into pupils’ mental health, launched by SCHOOLS NorthEast at our Summit in October.

Professor Bailey informed the committee of the innovative approach that schools in our region are taking to address the worrying decline in pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, through the work of the commission. MPs showed a great deal of interest in the collective approach that North East schools are taking to address a shared problem.

Also giving evidence were Kate Fallon from the Association of Educational Psychologists (based in Durham), Emily Frith from the Education Policy Institute and Sarah Brennan from the charity Young Minds.

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North East LEP careers lead named Career Educator of the Year

The North East man helping to transform the quality of careers education in schools and colleges across the region has been named Career Educator of the Year at the prestigious Career Development Institute UK Career Development Awards.

Ryan Gibson, Facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, was awarded the title in recognition of his work with the Gatsby Foundation and the delivery of the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot to 16 schools and colleges across the North East.  Funded by the Gatsby Foundation,  SCHOOLS NorthEast is very proud of its central role in securing this innovative £600K project for the North East region, against strong competition from other parts of the country.

Designed to improve students’ transition from school to the world of work, the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks provide a clear framework for schools and colleges to deliver effective, quality careers education. Students leave school with the ability to make educated choices about their future career and the skills local employers demand. The programme has been praised by Robert Halfon MP, Minister of State at the Department for Education, and is expected to form part of new statutory guidance for schools in delivering careers advice.

Ryan said: “It’s an honour to be named Career Educator of the Year but I haven’t achieved this on my own.

“As well as the team at the North East LEP, we have collaborated with partners across the region who share our ambition to ensure children and young people have access to the best possible careers advice; allowing them to make educated and informed choices about their future.

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Study on North East pupils shows exercise levels decline ‘long before adolescence’

A long-term study of physical activity in children, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has found that sitting is replacing physical activity from the time children start school.

It suggests that even though adolescence is thought to be the time when children turn their back on exercise, it happens much earlier at around the age of seven.

The study was carried out in Gateshead and the children who took part were tracked between 2006 and 2015.

Experts from Newcastle and Glasgow tracked the activity levels of children over eight years using monitors worn for a week at a time.

Researchers found that, on average:
– when they were 7, boys spent 75 minutes a day exercising; this fell to 51 when they were 15.
– when they were 7, girls spent 63 minutes a day exercising; this fell to 41 at age 15.

However, one in five boys bucked the trend by maintaining the same level of activity through to their teenage years. Researchers noted these boys were the ones who started off with the highest levels of exercise when they were 7.

The news comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced during his first Budget last week that schools will get £1bn to spend on sports activities and promote healthy lifestyles amongst pupils. The funding comes from the sugar tax introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne last year.



Schools’ guide to apprenticeship reforms: what you need to know

This week the Department for Education released guidance for schools on the Apprenticeships Levy that will come into effect next month. The Levy has been constructed in such a way that most schools will end up paying it. There will also be changes to funding for apprenticeship training for all employers.

All public sector employers, including schools, will need to consider how they can increase the number of apprentices in their workforce.


  • it applies to all employers operating in the UK, but only employers with an annual pay bill of over £3 million will pay the levy
  • charged at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s annual pay bill
  • all employers will have an annual levy allowance of £15,000 to be used to fund training and assessment only (not wider costs such as salaries) for apprentices
  • at the end of each month, employers will receive a 10% top-up to the levy contributions they have made that month

What do school leaders need to know?

The way in which the levy applies to schools depends on the type of school and the overall employer. Below is a breakdown of each type of school and who will be accountable for paying the levy in each case.

Continue reading “Schools’ guide to apprenticeship reforms: what you need to know”

What NPQH doesn’t teach you

school-network-4The role of a Head Teacher is rich and varied. I would say that it is the best job in the world but you have to be prepared for a role that is complex, eventful, uncertain and memorable. My last week was one such week:

Sunday night (5.00-8.00pm)

Three hours of Twitter to support the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL) campaign to highlight concerns about education funding. Search #WhatWouldYouCut for details.

I usually aim to get in to school each day before 7.30am to do some work before everyone else arrives; this sets me up for the day. As usual, my plans are waylaid as three different members of staff, who also arrive early, catch me ‘for only 2 mins’. I enjoy the fact that people will drop in and talk about things that are on their mind.

I start the weekly Staff Briefing where I get the chance to thank people for key aspects from the previous week and go through the week ahead. It is also a great way to provide a timely reminder of key practices.

The briefing always finishes with birthday cards for those staff with a birthday that particular week and a bottle of wine for the staff Star of the Week, nominated anonymously for a random act of kindness. The recipient was a Business Studies teacher who came into school on her day off to support her colleagues as we had an exam board moderator in school. This is a great way to share small stories that influence the culture of the school.

Meet Tyne Tees reporter/cameraman to do a piece on concerns about the National Funding Formula (NFF).

Teach a lesson with one of my Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) groups – it’s always great to spend time in class with the students. Best part of the week!

I always do the dinner queue as this enables me to memorise as many names as possible … but also causes delays in letting students through. I need to do better. New best part of the week!

After school
I accompany two girls’ football teams to another school for a tournament – this takes me back to my days as a PE teacher. This is now the best part of the week!

Continue reading “What NPQH doesn’t teach you”