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.”

1https://ffteducationdatalab.org.uk/2017/07/long-term-disadvantage-part-one-challenges-and-successes/

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Another record breaking year for Schools North East

The end of the year is always a time for reflection and here at Schools North East we want to look back on the fantastic year we have had. We have achieved some incredible things in 2018 – 2019, which, as always, we couldn’t have done without your support.

CelebrateEd – The Inaugural Northern Celebration of Education

On 11th and 12th July we welcomed almost 300 teachers from across the North to the inaugural CelebrateEd – The Northern Celebration of Education. This unique 2 day event was packed with over 60 sessions celebrating and sharing the best in educational practice and allowing teachers the opportunity to network with colleagues from across the North. We were very, very proud to welcome delegates and speakers from all 12 areas of the North East, Lancashire, Harrogate, the North Yorkshire coast, Bradford, York, North and South, from rural to inner city, and coast to coast, EYs, primary, secondary and Special.

We were also delighted to be joined by Alex Quigley and Professor Rob Coe for the keynote speeches, as well as a passionate call to arms from Schools North East Vice Chair and Head Teacher Ian Veitch to challenge the narrative of underperformance in our region. The event was a resounding success with #CelebrateEd trending on Twitter and fantastic feedback from those attending.

A huge thank you must go to our partners for the event – the All North Teaching Schools, Northumbria University, the Education Endowment Foundation, and SHINE. Over the next few years we aim to grow CelebrateEd into THE teaching event in the educational calendar; one involving thousands of teaching professionals, that not only shares best practice, but also leads the way in developing it as well. We aim to create something that acts as a magnet and a voice; a magnet that attracts ministers, funders, academics, researchers, but most of all fellow teaching practitioners; and a voice that influences how education policy and practice develops.

Ednorth and SHINE Partnership brings £500K to the region’s schools

CelebrateEd also saw the soft launch of Ednorth – our evidence based excellence programme that aims to ‘change the game’ and inspire transformational change in classrooms across the North East. Ednorth will foster and support a classroom culture of informed debate, research, collaboration and excellence; helping to drive regional and national education policy. 

We were delighted to announce that Ednorth has attracted the support of the SHINE Trust who will be supporting the programme with £500K of funding for school-led research projects in the North East. Keep your eyes open for how to get involved with Ednorth from September 2019.

Ground-breaking work on ‘Voice of the Pupil’

Following the initial pilot, the Voice of the Pupil project driven by Schools North East’s Healthy MindED Commission has been successfully rolled out across 30 schools in the region. School practitioners attended two full days of training to enable them to take part in research in their schools. The practitioners were presented with their certificates by Professor Dame Sue Bailey at the Schools North East Healthy MindED Conference in May. Professor Bailey praised the project as ‘one of a kind – nothing else is being done like this anywhere else – it is a nationally important piece of work and I will be talking to government and those who influence to take note of its findings.’

All the results have been painstakingly transcribed and a coding process applied to generate overarching themes. The final report findings should be ready for publication by Spring 2020.

Opportunity North East – £24 Million for our region

After campaigning for two years for the North East to become an Opportunity Area, we were delighted to have played such a significant part in bringing Opportunity North East to the region. This will see the investment of an additional £24 million in the most disadvantaged schools in the region. Schools North East is also very proud to be representing the region’s schools on the Opportunity North East Strategy Board alongside educational experts such as Professor Rob Coe. The funding will support:

  • targeted approaches to improve transition from primary to secondary school;
  • training for new teachers and to help improve the quality of teaching in North East schools;
  • young people to consider progression routes;
  • work with local businesses to improve job prospects for young people;
  • The ONE Vision Schools initiative which aims to support thirty schools in the North East, improve social mobility and raise aspirations for up to 25,000 young people.

Fund Our Future

Today the Education Select Committee has acknowledged the funding crisis in their report on the inquiry into spending. Schools North East has repeatedly called for investment in funding for education and March saw the launch of the #FundOurFuture funding campaign which aimed to support other campaigns throughout the country in highlighting the school funding crisis. The IFS 2018 annual report on education spending showed that over the last 10 years, funding per pupil has fallen by 8% (in inflation-adjusted terms). Schools North East analysis shows this to be the equivalent of £500 less per pupil since 2009. We asked schools, parents and everyone who has an interest in education to share an image of a banknote worth £500 with their child’s photo on it to put our children at the centre of the picture.

The events programme grows and grows!

This year Schools North East held 9 major events/conference as well as 10 single events/webinars. Overall, our events attracted over 3,500 delegates from across the North East and beyond. We had record numbers for our annual Patron’s Dinner and Summit 2018, both of which sold out with large waiting lists, as well as record numbers for our SBM Conference – the largest event of its kind in the country.

The quality of our speaker line-ups continued to grow, as national figures chose our events as a platform to gain maximum coverage for key changes. At Summit 2018, Amanda Spielman, HMCI Ofsted, exclusively announced the new Ofsted Inspection Framework. We were joined by Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Schools System, at Academies Conference 19 and at Healthy MindEd we were pleased to be joined by Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

This year we introduced a host of new events. As well as the success of our inaugural CelebrateEd, we launched Supporting Challenging Learners, looking at how alternative providers and mainstream schools can work together, and how to support and manage challenging learners.

As always without the support from our Commercial and Education Supporters and other companies who sponsor and exhibit at our events wouldn’t be possible. This year 50 new companies engaged with Schools North East to do what they can to support our region’s schools.

Helping schools to upskill and connect

This year saw the introduction of courses designed to significantly upskill those who attend and provide individual networks of support for them going forward. Our first ‘MAT leadership’ course was run in the Spring term and was a resounding success. Delegates from MATs across the region attended, supported by the RSC and ESFA and professionals from HR and Finance. In the Summer term, we also held ‘Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviour’, run by John d’Abbro OBE, another resounding success with delegates. We aim to hold more of these courses in the coming academic year. 

This year also saw Schools North East support the launch of three new local SBM networks in Sunderland, Northumberland, and Newcastle and we will continue to support the existing networks across the region in the year to come. 

Jobs in Schools | North East

Jobs in Schools | North East, the regional Jobs Portal created by schools for schools had another great year helping our schools to save money on recruitment costs. 2018 – 2019 saw 1,254 vacancies advertised with each job being viewed on average more than 500 times!  

Schools North East’s reach continues to grow

Our reach continues to grow bigger and bigger, actively engaging with over 800 schools this year.

This year we have also seen nearly 100 new Partner Schools join the network, and 30 MATs sign up as Partner MATS, showing their commitment to working together for the future of the children in our region. This year also saw our first 9 non-North East Partner Schools sign up as our out of region reach continues to grow.

We want to say a huge thank you to all of our Partner Schools, sponsors, Commercial and Education Supporters and partners for their continuing support, which enables us to achieve everything we do. Those from outside of the region see our events and programme of activities and wrongly assume that government very generously funds us. Schools North East is a registered charity, we are entirely self-funding; we take no money from government, national or local, we generate all of our own income, and are completely independent. Schools North East answers only to you, our member schools. All of the income we make from our events go back into supporting our schools as they deserve.

Schools North East Rebrand

Last but certainly not least we worked in conjunction with Partner Schools to update our brand to better reflect the work of the network. This was unveiled at the Summit 2018.

We hope you enjoy your summer and we looking forward to what we can achieve together in the new academic year.

Three more North East schools awarded Research School status by EEF

Three North East schools have succeeded in becoming part of the EEF research schools network. Awarded full Research School status are Newcastle Research School at Walkergate, and Carmel Research School, with Townend Farm being awarded ‘associate’ status.

Newcastle Research School and Carmel Research School will each receive £140,000 over three years to become centres of evidence-based practice in the region and build networks between schools.

The funding will support them to develop a programme ensuring schools have access to evidence based resource and training.

“We are delighted to have been successful in our application to become one of only ten Research Schools nationally,” said Debi Bailey, Chief Executive Officer at Newcastle East Mixed Multi Academy Trust.

“As a Trust, we are very proud to serve an area of socioeconomic disadvantage, and the opportunities that will be provided through the Research School Network for partnership working and innovative, evidence-based research will be key for us to ensure that we continue to make a positive difference to outcomes for young people.

Also announced was Town End Associate Research School, which will be working with Shotton Hall Research School. All three schools will join a network of 22 Research Schools across the country.

Read the full EEF announcement

Education Select Committee report acknowledges funding crisis

A report from the Education Select Committee has shown that education funding has not been sufficient to cope with the rising demands that schools are facing. The report calls for a strategic ten-year education funding plan and particularly focuses on the shortfall FE providers are facing, calling for the base rate to be raised in line with inflation and for pupil premium to be extended to 16-19 pupils.

Despite Government assurances that ‘more money than ever is going into education’, the report now acknowledges that schools are suffering from real term cuts.

The IFS 2018 annual report on education spending in England showed that over the last 10 years, funding per pupil has fallen by 8% (in inflation-adjusted terms). This is a total of a £4.2 billion real-term decrease in funding since 2009/10. Schools North East analysis shows this to be the equivalent of £500 less per pupil since 2009.

The funding crisis has made a number of headlines throughout the years as schools have been making staff redundancies, and even closing early or going down to four day weeks. As well as dealing with a rising number of students, schools are faced with providing additional services, including dealing with student mental health, more complex SEND provision and a growing number of pupils facing significant disadvantage and even poverty.

Commenting on the report, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“This report is a damning indictment of the government’s dreadful record on school and college funding… It is spot-on about the need for a long-term education funding plan which is based upon what schools and colleges actually need. It is a fundamental weakness of the current funding system that there is a complete disconnect between what is asked of the education system and how much money is provided by the government to meet those expectations. ”

Earlier this year ASCL’s report The True Cost of Education,  calculated that school funding must be increased by £5.7 billion to give every child the education that society expects and children deserve.

Read the full Education Select Committee Report

Head Teacher Iain Veitch’s CelebrateEd rallying call wows delegates

Welcoming delegates to the inaugural CelebrateEd – Northern Celebration of Education, Head Teacher Iain Veitch led an impassioned speech on challenging the narrative of under performance in the region. Read his speech in full:

Ladies and gentlemen

As you approached the Celebration today, it may well have been that your minds did not dwell upon the fact that you were walking or driving through a city once renowned as the home of passion, engagement, aspiration and invention.

If you came here by car, you may have crossed the High Level Bridge, the first dual purpose bridge ever in the world; you may have used the Swing Bridge, the first hydraulic bridge in the world or if you came on foot, perhaps you walked over the Millennium Bridge, the first tilting bridge in the world. If you came from Middlesbrough, you may have used the Transporter Bridge without realising that the prototype for all such bridges was designed by Charles Smith in 1873 in Hartlepool.

My premise is that if Ireland has traditionally been the home of Saints and Scholars, then the North East of England has been the home of Pioneers and Dreamers, those who have sought to and succeeded in changing the world.

Pioneers and Dreamers like:

Joseph Swann, who in 1859 exhibited the first commercially viable electric light bulb at the Lit and Phil In Newcastle, a full 20 years before Eddison ‘invented’ it in America. His house in Gateshead was the first to be fully lit in the world by electricity and because of him Collingwood Street became the first electrically lit street in the world.

William Armstrong, whose work within hydraulics changed the way cargo and freight could be lifted, who pioneered hydro-electricity and who is regarded as the inventor of modern artillery.

George Stephenson, who is 1815 created the Geordie lamp, to make miners safe underground, and who in 1821 was the chief engineer on the Stockton-Darlington railway, the first passenger railway in the world; who in 1822 opened the Liverpool to Manchester railway, the first inter-city railway in the world; who,  with his son Robert developed ‘Locomotion No.1’ — the first railroad locomotive in the world to carry passengers on a public line, and then refined his design into the more famous Rocket.

Rachel Parsons, the first woman to study Mechanical Sciences at Cambridge University. She was a pioneer in science and engineering, the director of an engineering business in Tyneside, helping to train women during the First World War, and later founding the Women’s Engineering Society. 

Her father, Charles Parsons, is best known for inventing the steam turbine, which made cheap and plentiful electricity possible and revolutionised marine transport and naval warfare. 

The North East was also home to Thomas Addison who is credited with a number of medical discoveries including pernicious anaemia.

 John Walker who brought the world the safety match

Gladstone Adams who invented the windscreen wiper.

John Henry Holmes who patented what is now the light switch

Arthur George who invented the aeroplane joystick 

Wilfred Handley, invented Domestos and

James Killingworth who invented Bleach.

William Owen who invented Lucozade.

William Wouldhave who invented the lifeboat

Gertrude Bell, from Durham, who threw off the shackles of Victorian England to become a writer, archaeologist, political officer and diplomat, best known for helping to establish modern Iraq after World War I.

Peter Higgs discovered the Higgs Boson particle and Jonathan Ives, admittedly only a self proclaimed adopted Geordie, who studied computing at our hosts today, Northumbria University, and is now CEO of Apple, a company which has changed the world in modern times.

All of these historical figures, these change-makers, and thousands more were developed within North Eastern educational institutions, yet how many teachers or children within our schools realise that they are standing on the shoulders of giants? 

One could be forgiven for looking at this list and concluding that history largely stopped in our region at the turn of the twentieth century. 

However, our host today, Northumbria University, has just been named as number one higher education institution in the country for graduate start-ups. And what then happens? Of the 200 North Eastern companies with the highest turnover last year, over half were started by people from this area. I am talking about:

Arriva from Sunderland, which has an annual turnover of £4.3bn

Go Ahead from Newcastle, which has an annual turnover of £3.5bn

Bellway, also of Newcastle, which made £2.5bn

Froneri Ices from Northallerton, which made £1.4bn

Greggs, originally of Gosforth, which made £894m

Northgate of Darlington, which made £3667m

Parkdean of Newcastle – £431m

Hays Travel of Sunderland – £332m

Fenwicks of Newcastle – £302m

Esh of Esh Winning – £234m

Cleveland Cables  of Middlesboro – £213m

J.Barbor and Sons of Jarrow – £154m

The list could go on and on. There are 72 companies in the region with a turnover of over £1bn last year and Tom Gallon of the LEPP told me that there are no vacant lots in the business parks running the length of the Tyne, with a substantial number occupied by local entrepreneurs; men and women like those already named who dared to dream, turned that dream into a reality and then built upon it to become major players in their communities.

Does this chime with a region which has a national reputation for being economically stagnant?

How many of us present today have bought into that reputation and bemoan the lack of positive role models for our students yet are unable to name the region’s brightest and best entrepreneurs? How many of our teachers see their task as hopeless? How many of the children in our schools are unaware of the opportunities open to them on their doorsteps? In other words, how many of us are party to the national perception that the fact that we have the highest rates of benefit claimants in the country means that that is all that we have, all that we are, and all that we can be?

With our business leaders turning back the economic tide and our teachers confronting disadvantage head on with a courage and determination to let no child’s history be their destiny, who could possible say that we are not still the land of pioneers and dreamers?

I am a proud Geordie – I love the heritage, the landscape and the ingrained culture and values of the place which my uncle referred to as ‘God’s own country’ and so it has been a source of real pain and frustration to hear our secondary schools in particular labelled as failures by those who neither know, nor understand, nor, indeed, care about our context.  

Is it not time then that the region took back the agenda from those who would seek to deride us or impose magic bullets upon us?

Is it not time that we affected change within our own practices in order to regain our seat as the cradle of thinking not just in the country but also for the world?

Would it not be a good thing to send a resounding message that the North is resurgent, that we need neither the stick nor the carrot because we are masters of our own destinies?

Wouldn’t a good place to begin this march be within every classroom in every school?

The messages I have received in preparing for this event, and the programme which includes practitioner-led workshops on oracy, literacy, meta-cognition, evidence-based actions and a whole host of other topics, seems to suggest that the answer from the profession to all of these questions is a resounding yes.

Ednorth is a movement with a moral purpose at its heart, to effect a long term shift in the educational culture of the region. To be part of it requires an ethical and moral buy-in from its participants, a commitment to drive educational disadvantage from the system, to ensure that no child’s history is their destiny; a belief that there are to be no sacred cows if we are to affect real change; a commitment to the principles of honesty, openness, collaboration and sharing and an acceptance that every child does genuinely matter, principles which used to mark us out but which have become tarnished in an age of competition. It is to be school-owned, school-led and school-focussed, with Schools North East and Shine acting as coordinator and resourcer whilst schools themselves act as the driver. Through it, we aim to establish the region as a nationally recognised Centre of Excellence, one which has local voices acting as its most powerful advocates, which is marked by its research centred approach, which has a community identity and sustainability which will allow it to thrive, and thus change the lives of our children. 

These are bold aims but we would argue that a fragmented system requires such boldness; they are aspirational – but without aspiration, what will we truly achieve? They are forward thinking, but our tragedy is that for too long we have wallowed in our past – it is, after all, pointless standing on the shoulders of giants if you do not use them as a platform from which to move forward. 

‘How do we get involved?’ I hear you cry. Simply contact the Schools North East team or visit the EdNorth website and you will be able to play your own small part in our history.

The purpose of today is to act as the launch pad for our first step back to greatness -it is a celebration of what we already have but also the first step to something much bigger and more ambitious, the first mile of the drive towards transformation. We hope that it will be the catalyst for evidence based change firmly rooted in the practice of everyday teachers; that it will get you to commit to be its most powerful advocates in order to turn two days filled with energy, joy and optimism into a genuine movement which will aim not to get ahead of the game but to change the game completely. Our aim is that by next year, we will have 1,600 colleagues, not 160, who are keen to talk about the wonderful things they are doing in their classrooms and 3,000, not 300, who come to listen, marking a rising tide of pedagogy which will transform the lives of our own children, and through them the image and fortunes of a region which we all love so dearly.

I hope that you have a great two days and that you walk away from it with your heads held a little higher, safe in the knowledge that this really is a great place to both learn and teach.

Annual Lord Glenamara Prize in North East to expand

The Annual Lord Glenamara Prize in the North East is to expand from 2020 to showcase even more achievements of young people and also teachers. In previous years the prize has been awarded to those who are high academic achievers and who give back to their local community.

From next year, the prize will also recognise the talents of young people in technical education, individuals involved in careers education, and the hard work of teachers as well.

The new prizes will be awarded at the 2020 ceremony, to be hosted by Durham University.

Nominations for this year’s prizes will open in the new academic year and the prize giving event will take place in the New Year. Keep an eye out for more information on how to nominate a student or staff member from September.

See the DfE Press Release for more information

Education links w/c 15/07/19

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/durham-university-named-one-worlds-16592158 – Chronicle Live, Durham University named one of the world’s Top 100 universities.

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/schoolboy-barred-leavers-assembly-after-16604297 – Chronicle Live, Schoolboy barred from leavers assembly after barbershop mix-up leads to ‘extreme haircut’.

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/jack-cunningham-sunderland-university-council-16572155 – Chronicle Live, One of the youngest councillors in the country graduates from Sunderland University.

https://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/17771718.schoolgirls-strike-double-gold-dance-world-cup/ – Darlington & Stockton Times, Schoolgirls strike double gold in Dance World Cup.  

https://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/17764720.pupils-get-taste-life-surgeon/ – Darlington & Stockton Times, Pupils get a taste of life as a surgeon.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/17773997.autism-conference-repeated-success-first-event/?ref=mac – The Northern Echo, Autism conference to be repeated after success of first event.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/17777091.school-transport-changes-approved/?ref=mac – The Northern Echo, School transport changed approved.

https://www.sunderlandecho.com/education/sunderland-infant-school-teacher-says-goodbye-as-she-retires-after-an-incredible-42-years-at-the-same-school-485089 – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland infant school teacher says goodbye as she retires after an incredible 42 years at the same school.

https://www.sunderlandecho.com/education/sunderland-specialist-school-units-to-merge-in-ps14million-plan-485025 – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland specialist school units to merge in £1.4million plan.  

https://www.sunderlandecho.com/education/sunderland-youngsters-achieve-national-prince-william-award-477905 – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland youngsters achieve national Prince William Award.

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/school-says-auf-wiedersehen-longest-16599437 – Gazette Live, School says ‘Auf Weidersehen’ to longest-serving after more than 30 years in the classroom.

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/tens-millions-pumped-crumbling-stockton-16602839 – Gazette Live, Tens of millions to be pumped into crumbling Stockton schools and nurseries – here’s where it’s going.

https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/education/hartlepool-school-pupils-create-trashion-range-with-clothes-made-from-bottle-tops-crisp-packets-and-plastic-bottles-477802 – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school pupils create ‘trashion’ range with clothes made from bottle tops, crisp packets and plastic bottles.

SATs results show rising standards in maths

Interim SATs results show an increase in maths attainment among KS2 pupils, while overall 65% pupils reached the “expected standard”, passing the scaled benchmark score of 100 or more.

In most key subjects, raw marks were lowered to meet the increase in difficulty in this year’s assessments, to maintain the use of converted scale scores as an accurate comparison. Most significantly, lowering the boundaries for maths was met by an increase of 3% on last year, with
79% of pupils at least meeting the expected standard.

Of concern, however, was a 2% decline in reading standards, with 73% pupils achieving the expected minimum, despite no overall change in difficulty in the paper as indicated by the raw score needed remaining at 28 out of 50. Without comprehensive and universal literacy education, findings by EEF indicate that those in highly disadvantaged areas operating below the minimum expectation face worrying prospects.

However, an increase in difficulty did not affect attainment in the grammar, punctuation and spelling papers, maintaining a 78% expected standard. Performance in the writing teacher assessment remained high with 78% achieving the expected standard or “working at greater depth”.

Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb has praised the results of the reformed National Curriculum Assessments. “These results show the majority of pupils are leaving primary school ready to deal with the challenges of secondary school.”

“We reformed these tests in 2016 to make sure they assessed schools’ performance in equipping pupils to understand the new, improved primary curriculum. These skills will give them the chance to make the most of their potential – this is at the heart of the reforms we’ve introduced across the
education system since 2010.”

“It’s testament to the hard work and dedication of teachers that we have seen results rising over time despite the bar of expectation having been raised.”

However, a study from the NEU illustrates that 97% of primary school teachers want the high stakes tests to be scrapped. Those surveyed supported the NEU campaign for “a sensible alternative” to the tests, which they argue are damaging children and narrowing the curriculum. There has been increasing concern in the sector that the tests put undue stress on children, with numerous reports of pupils suffering anxiety as a result of the pressures of testing.

Regional figures will be available from September.

DfE announces national mental health programme between schools and NHS

The DfE has announced investment of £9.3 million in a training scheme to support pupils struggling with mental health. The scheme will focused on a joined up approach to care and support across schools, colleges and specialist NHS services.

With 1 in 10 young people under 16 diagnosed with a mental health condition and 20% of adolescents experiencing a mental health problem in any given year (mentalhealth.org.uk) there have been a number of calls for the government to provide more support for schools in dealing with mental health issues.

The four-year scheme will be led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and will build on the work of the pilot stage of the programme, launched in 2015.

Schools, colleges and alternative providers will be offered training through a series of workshops as part of the Link Programme, with school based members of staff taking part in training alongside mental health specialists. The aim is to improve partnerships with NHS mental health services, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.

The training will be rolled out to schools and colleges from September, in phases over four years, and will deliver just under 1,000 training sessions across England encouraging collaborative work so children do not fall between the cracks or experience poor transition between services.

The Government announced today that 124 new Mental Health Support Teams will be created in 48 areas across the country. 

Further reading:

DfE Press Release

TES

SNE launches inaugural CelebrateEd

Almost 300 teachers and education professionals from across the North have come together at Northumbria University Business school to attend CelebrateEd – two days celebrating the best in teaching practice in the North of England.

CelebrateEd featured over over 60 sessions across the two days with renowned speakers, local school leaders and frontline teachers sharing what works in their schools, as well as demonstrations from edtech companies, performances from local school groups and the Newcastle based Circus Central.

The event had a festival feel with a relaxed and informal setting for teachers to connect with colleagues and celebrate the work happening in the region, as well as the opportunity to enjoy a BBQ and ice cream.

Keynote speakers Alex Quigley and Rob Coe both emphasised the importance of using evidence to underpin decisions about how we teach and to help us understand how our students learn.

Underpinning CelebrateEd is the launch of the Ednorth programme, designed to cut through the fog of ‘expert’ guidance and commercial silver bullets and instead engage teachers in a community which can explore and implement solutions which work for their students.

Opening speaker Iain Veitch, Vice Chair of Schools North East and Head Teacher of Park View school in Chester-le-St, passionately outlined the history of the North East as one of ‘pioneers and dreamers’, telling delegates that ‘our students and teachers do not know that they are standing on the shoulders of giants.’ The region, however, has been overshadowed by a narrative of disadvantage, to which he urged that ‘we must not let their histories dictate our children’s future’s’. As a local Head Teacher, who is passionate about the region, Iain called on teachers to get involved in Ednorth, to give them a voice, to stand up to London-centric policies and guidance and to help establish the North as a cradle of innovative thinking in teaching.

Day one got the event off to a fantastic start, with delegates enthused about learning and sharing, and the event trending on Twitter. We are pleased to be able to continue the conversations for a second day and hope that this is a starting point for what in future can be the biggest event for teaching professionals, not only in the region, but the country, leading the way on best practice in education.

If you want to get involved with the Ednorth programme and sign up as an Advocate for your school and local area find out more at ednorth.uk