Bright Tribe in discussions over future of northern schools

The Bright Tribe academy trust is in discussions with the government about walking away from all of its schools in the north of England, the national schools commissioner has revealed.

Sir David Carter told MPs that “conversations about Bright Tribe moving out of the north” began in September, and would continue following the trust’s decision to walk away from Whitehaven Academy in Cumbria.

Stockport-based Bright Tribe currently runs five schools in the north: Whitehaven in Cumbria, Grindon Hall in Sunderland, Werneth Primary School in Oldham and Haltwistle Community Campus lower and upper schools in Northumberland. The rest of its schools are in Suffolk and Essex.

The trust announced last week that it intends to give up Whitehaven Academy, which has been at the centre of a bitter dispute with parents, staff and the wider community over the quality of education and the state of buildings at the school.

Read the full article on Schools Week.


DfE to target free schools in bottom-performing third of country

Social Mobility Action Plan to shift focus of free school programme towards underperforming areas

The Department for Education is going to target new free schools in parts of the country which are in the bottom third for educational standards.

Well-placed sources say that the government’s forthcoming Social Mobility Action Plan will state that the majority of free schools set up by central government will be in poorer performing areas.

This would result in the focus of the free school programme shifting away from the South East, where it has been traditionally strongest, to the North of England and the Midlands.

However, Tes understands that some free schools will continue to be opened in other, more successful, parts of the country via the “local authority route”.

Read the full article in the Tes.

Ofsted confirms changes to short inspections following consultation

Ofsted has confirmed it will go ahead with plans to change the way it carries out short inspections of good-rated schools from next month.

Under the new plans, set out in September, inspectors will continue to convert short inspections into full inspections, usually within 48 hours, if they have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education provided.

However, if there are no “significant issues” with safeguarding or behaviour, but inspectors have concerns about the quality of education, leadership or management, instead of converting the inspection Ofsted will publish a letter outlining areas for improvement.

A full inspection will then take place within one to two years, to give the school time to address weaknesses. Ofsted said that, in the meantime, its letter will make it clear that the school’s overall rating has not changed.

If inspectors believe a school is moving towards an outstanding judgement, Ofsted will publish a letter confirming the school is still good and setting out how it can improve. A full inspection will then take place in one to two years, but these schools can apply for an early inspection.

Read the full article on Schools Week.

40% of teachers can’t identify a young carer in class

Four in 10 teachers are not able to identify a young carer in their class, children’s charity Barnardo’s has found.

Teachers and other professionals working with children have a legal duty to identify young carers and refer them to the local authority to be assessed for support.

But 40 per cent of the 808 teachers polled by the charity said they were not confident that they would recognise a young carer in their class.

Of those polled, 34 per cent said there were young carers at their school who are not sufficiently supported, and 29 per cent do not think their school has any particular methods for supporting young carers.

The survey also asked young carers if they could estimate the number of hours a week they spent on caregiving. A quarter said their care responsibilities take up over 30 hours of their time every week, which is almost the equivalent of a full-time job.

This work involves tasks such as cooking, cleaning and shopping, as well as intimate personal care, administering drugs and taking care of household finances.

Read the full article on Schools Week.

Parents of summer born children will be allowed to start school aged five, minister says

Parents of summer born children will be given the option of delaying when their children join reception, the schools minister has said.

The Government intends to change the admissions code so that children born between April 1 and August 31 are able to start school a year later with the option of joining either a reception or a Year One class.

His comment came after the results of an international literacy test published on Tuesday which showed that by the time children are aged nine to ten, September-born children outperform their August-born classmates in literacy and reading.

Earlier research has showed that children born in August are 50 per cent more likely to be labelled as having “special needs” than others in their cohort.

“The issue of summer born children is something that we are concerned about,” Mr Gibb said.

Read the full article on the Telegraph.

Unhappy teachers will take 10% pay cut to escape profession

Teachers are willing to take a 10-per-cent pay cut to escape the profession and allow themselves more free time, new research from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has found.

The monthly pay of teachers who leave for a new job was found to be, on average, one tenth less than it was when they were in class, according to data from a large, multi-year survey of over 40,000 adults in Britain.

The analysis also shows that ex-teachers’ job satisfaction improved considerably and stayed that way, after they quit.

“Teachers may face a trade-off between pay and working conditions, but this evidence suggests that working conditions are the stronger motivation for those who leave,” the research said.

The authors identified 1,149 state-school teachers through the ‘Understanding society’ survey, conducted by the Economic and Social Research Council. Of those, 366 left the profession during the six years of the survey.

In their new roles, the former teachers worked fewer hours, and secondary school teachers in particular sought out part-time positions. Their overall satisfaction with the amount of leisure time increased significantly after leaving teaching, but the subjects’ general life satisfaction saw little change.

The researchers looked at the destinations of teachers leaving the profession, and found that 33% went to work in “private-sector education”, though this category includes both those teaching at independent schools and those who went on to work as supply teachers employed by a private agency in the public sector.

The next most common destination for leavers was retirement, at 29%

Nine per cent went into non-teaching roles in schools, and five per cent took public-sector employment not related to schools.

Four per cent of teachers leaving their jobs in state schools ended up unemployed, while just one per cent took up a new role as a teaching assistant.

NFER has now urged the government and schools to “urgently look at ways of accommodating more part-time working in secondary schools, in order to retain teachers who are at risk of leaving”.

Greater flexibility in working patterns could also encourage former teachers who left the profession to return to work on a part-time basis, it suggested.

“School leaders, the government and Ofsted need to work together to review the impact their actions are having on teacher workload, to identify practical actions that can be taken to reduce this,” said a spokesperson.

More than 770,000 UK children ‘don’t have any books of their own’

Children without books are 15 times less likely to be good readers than their book-owning peers, research shows.

More than 750,000 UK schoolchildren do not have  a single book of their own, a new survey suggests.

These children are four times more likely than their book-owning peers to be below the expected standard in reading for their age.

The National Literacy Trust surveyed more than 42,000 children between the ages of 8 and 18. It found that 9.4 per cent did not have any books of their own at home.

Extrapolating these figures out to all children in the country between these ages, this would equate to 770,139 children nationally who did not own any books.

Read the full article on the Tes.

Government launches Careers Strategy after pilot in North East

SCHOOLS NorthEast takes a look at the main points of the Government’s new Careers Strategy, which was launched this week, and how this will impact our schools.

Gatsby Benchmarks – The Government will ask schools and colleges to meet the eight standards, publishing new statutory guidance in January 2018 setting out how to meet all of the Benchmarks. By adopting these Benchmarks, schools and colleges will be putting employers at the heart of the careers programme. Support will be tailored to address the needs of every young person, especially disadvantaged students, and data and technology will be used to drive improvements.

Designated Careers Leader – There will be an additional £4 million in new funding to provide “training and support” for at least 500 schools (working out around £8,000 per school) and colleges to train a dedicated careers leader. The government’s aim is for every school and college to eventually have a designated careers leader it hasn’t announced further funding for this. They will have responsibility for ensuring schools meet the Gatsby Career Benchmarks.

20 new “careers hubs” – A £5 million scheme will see 20 “careers hubs” set up across the country to link schools, colleges, universities and employers. The scheme will be run by the Careers and Enterprise Company, which to date has already received around £90 million in funding for its activities.

Careers trials in primary schools – These pilots will run in the government’s 12 social mobility “opportunity areas”, and cost £2 million. Under the trials, ways of engaging younger children on the “wealth of careers available to them” will be tested.

One “meaningful” business interaction a year – Secondary schools will be expected to provide pupils with “at least one meaningful interaction with businesses every year”. There will be a particular focus on employers from the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) industries, to “help deliver the high-skilled workers we need in these industries”.


January 2018

  • Schools and colleges should use the Gatsby Benchmarks to improve careers provision, as set out in new statutory guidance.
  • Schools must give providers of technical education and apprenticeships the opportunity to talk to all pupils.

September 2018

  • A named Careers Leader should lead the careers programme in every school and college.
  • Schools and colleges are expected to publish details of their careers programme for young people and their parents.
  • CEC will begin to take on a broader role across all the Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • 20 “careers hubs” will be funded by Government and supported by a coordinator from the CEC.

2018 and 2019

  • New approaches to careers provision are tested and evaluated, to: encourage young people, especially girls, to consider jobs in science, technology, engineering and maths; understand what careers activities work well in primary schools; improve careers information, advice and guidance for young people and adults who are disadvantaged or vulnerable.
  • CEC will provide tools to help schools and colleges meet the Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • Careers Leaders training funded for 500 schools and colleges.
  • Clear information about T levels is provided to parents, teachers, young people and careers professionals.
  • New contracts for the National Careers Service in place.
  • Results from the Career Learning Pilots collected and evaluated.

End of 2020

  • Schools should offer every young person seven encounters with employers – at least one each year from years 7 to 13 – with support from the CEC.
  • A new, improved National Careers Service website will include all of the information to help citizens make informed choices


Government publishes mental health green paper for schools

Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper

SCHOOLS NorthEast take a look at the three key ‘pillars’ of the Government’s approach are set out in the Green Paper, which commits to spending £310 million to support young people’s mental health:

Senior Mental Health Leads – £95 million of the funding will go to training “senior mental health leads” to work in schools. These people will be responsible for developing a “whole-school approach” to mental health and wellbeing. Their roles will also include pastoral support and ensuring strong policies are in place for dealing with issues including bullying.

Mental Health Support Teams – The remaining £215 million will pay for new support teams. These will be expected to improve the link between schools and local health services. The teams will also work to improve early intervention on mental health, by providing a range of support and treatments in or near schools and colleges. The government hopes to recruit “several thousand people” over the next five years to fill the teams, which will be supervised by clinicians.

Quicker access to health services for pupils – The NHS will pilot the implementation of reduced waiting times for access to NHS-funded children and young people’s mental health services in some of the pilot areas. This will aim for children and young people in those areas to be able to access NHS-funded services within four weeks.

Also mentioned in the Green Paper:

Mental health discussions and CBT in classrooms – Pupils will be taught about mental health and wellbeing in classrooms through the new relationships education and PHSE curriculum. The aforementioned mental health support teams will also be trained to offer ‘evidence-based treatments’ in the classroom, including cognitive behaviour therapy.

New research – New research will be commissioned to fill “evidence gaps” across children’s mental health, including a focus on how best to support vulnerable families. There will also be a new working group to look at mental health support for 16- to 25-year-olds.

Training for teachers – Mental health awareness training for teachers will be offered to every primary and secondary school in the country.


January 2017 – Government announces Green Paper.

December 2017 – Green Paper launched.

March 2018 – Consultation period ends.

2018 – Training providers funded to develop training packages for Designated Senior Leads for Mental Health.

2019 – Piloting starts in a number of “trailblazer” areas.

2019/20 – Access to funding for training of the Designated Senior Leads starts.

2020/21 – Rollout starts, dependent on success of the pilots.

2022/23 – Rolled out to “at least a fifth” of England.

2025 – Training for Senior Leads for Mental Health will be available in all areas.

20?? – All new initiatives available across England at an unspecified time in the 2020s.

Ofsted – new arrangements for short inspections

Ofsted has published new arrangements they say are designed to ensure that short inspections are responsible interventions that minimise the burden on schools. It ran the consultation after receiving feedback that short inspections that immediately convert to full inspections were challenging for schools and inspectors.

Inspectors will continue to convert short inspections into full inspections – usually within 48 hours – if they have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education provided.

If there are no “significant issues” with safeguarding or behaviour, but inspectors have concerns about the quality of education, leadership or management, instead of converting the inspection Ofsted will publish a letter outlining areas for improvement.

A full inspection will then take place within one to two years, to give the school time to address weaknesses. In the meantime, the school’s overall rating will not change.

If inspectors believe a school is moving towards an outstanding judgement, Ofsted will publish a letter confirming the school is still good and setting out how it can improve. A full inspection will then take place in one to two years, but these schools can apply for an early inspection.

Read more here