Deputy RSC to join the Northern Education Trust, it has been understood

It is understood that Jane Wilson, Deputy Regional School Commissioner (RSC) for the North, is to join the Northern Education Trust as their Deputy CEO, according to information given to SCHOOLS NorthEast.

Ms Wilson, the former Executive Principal of Brambles Primary Academy in Brambles Farm and Dormanstown Primary Academy in Middlesbrough, took the deputy RSC position in 2016 alongside Katherine Cowell. At the time when deputy RSCs were announced, the DfE said: “Deputy Directors will complement the senior leadership teams in each RSC’s office, helping to deliver the expansion of the academies programme and recruit strong sponsors.”

The Northern Education Trust (NET) is strengthening its team after some issues in previous years with the time it took to help struggling schools.

The trust runs academies on Tyneside, Wearside, Teesside, Northumberland as well as other areas in the North.

In March 2016, the Northern Education Trust was issued with a ‘pre-warning notice letter’ by Vicky Beer, the Regional Schools Commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire, due to ‘unacceptably low’ standards of performance and progress at North Shore, The Blyth and Thomas Hepburn Academies. There is also a consultation currently to close Thomas Hepburn Academy.

It also the follows the news from September 2017 that Rob Tarn was to replace Ian Kershaw as the new CEO of the Northern Education Trust.

The North East schools in the Northern Education Trust are:

Manor Community Academy, Hartlepool

Dyke House Sports and Technology College, Hartlepool

The Grangefield Academy, Stockton-on-Tees

North Shore Academy, Stockton-on-Tees

The Oak Tree Academy, Stockton-on-Tees

Red House Academy, Sunderland

Thomas Hepburn Community Academy, Gateshead

Thorp Academy, Ryton

Hilton Primary Academy, Newcastle

The Blyth Academy, Northumberland

Weekly Update contacted representatives of the RSC office, Department for Education and Northern Education Trust however no organisation was able to comment at this time.


Zero-tolerance behaviour policies exclude more vulnerable children, MPs told

Increases in exclusions are being driven by “shaming” school behaviour policies backed by the Department for Education, experts have warned MPs.

Jane Pickthall, chair of the National Association of Virtual School Heads, which oversees children in care policy at local authorities, told the parliamentary education committee that humiliating classroom control techniques made schools “less inclusive” for children in care and those with mental health needs, while another witness claimed zero-tolerance policies may be unlawful because they discriminate against SEND pupils.

The committee is in the middle of an inquiry into the quality of alternative provision and rising exclusion levels, prompted by concerns about the lack of oversight in the sector and malpractice in mainstream schools.

During this morning’s session, Pickthall said some of the most popular behaviour policies were damaging for pupils most at risk of exclusion.

Read the full article on Schools Week.

Heads want pay code after £500,000 academy boss

Head teachers say the pay levels of all school staff in England, including academy bosses, should be in a fairer framework to stop “fat cat” pay gaps.

The chief executive of the Harris Federation was revealed last week to have become the first in the state sector to earn £500,000.

The National Association of Head Teachers wants more transparency over spending “public money”.

The Department for Education has written to 29 trusts about high pay.

But the academy trusts asked to explain their levels of pay, where bosses earn over £150,000, have only been small, single-school trusts.

The much bigger multi-academy trusts, including Harris, have so far been exempt from this challenge over how much they pay their bosses and managers.

Read the full article on the BBC.

Councils call for compulsory mental health counselling in all secondary schools

Every secondary school in the country should receive funding to provide compulsory independent mental health counselling to pupils, the body representing local authorities has said.

The Local Government Association said that access to counselling should be made mandatory, amid growing concerns that children and young people are being forced to wait up to 18 months before receiving support.

The goverment has promised to invest £1.7 billion in mental health and wellbeing services for children and young people.

The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, said 5% of this funding – £90 million – should be set aside to make it mandatory for every student in secondary and alternative education provision to have access to on-site counselling services.

Read the full article in the Tes.

National school funding formula threatened as councils demand changes

Local authorities have lodged more than 200 appeals with the Department for Education for permission to move away from the national school funding formula next year.

In at least six cases, the requests have been made against the wishes of local Head Teachers.

The new formula is being introduced from 2018-19 in an attempt to allocate funding to schools according to a single set of principles.

But the DfE has received at least 202 appeals from local authorities that want to deviate from these rule.

A Head Teachers union is warning that the calls to subvert the formula are caused by a shortage of funding and will force schools to wait longer to receive the money they are owed under the new national system.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: “The fact that so many local authorities requested to be able to move their funding into high needs shows that there isn’t enough money to go round.

“It’s clear that there isn’t enough money in the national funding formula, and the schools that will suffer most are those with the most challenging intakes.”

Read the full article in the Tes.

Northern education leaders hit back at Wilshaw claim of ‘miserable’ standards

Northern education leaders have hit back at claims by Sir Michael Wilshaw that academisation has failed to improve “miserable” standards in the region.

The former Ofsted chief inspector was accused of “miserably spreading misery”, and his comments were branded “unhelpful and unnecessary” by the boss of one northern multi-academy trust.

Speaking at the Northern Powerhouse Conference on education and skills in Leeds last Friday, Sir Michael said: “Academisation doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference in the North and the Midlands. Doncaster, where every secondary school is an academy, has a miserable attainment score and progress scores.”

“Practically all the worst performing academy trusts preside in the North and in the Midlands, with a dozen or so so bad that they have effectively been closed down, with their constituent schools handed to other trusts.”

Sir Michael added that successful academy trusts in the South should “come to the North of England” to raise standards.

Read the full article in the Tes.

Nick Gibb: Extra exams would cut risk to pupils’ mental health

Nick Gibb has said that the way to ensure that exam pressure does not take a toll on pupils’ mental health is to give them more exams.

But teachers have taken to Twitter to contradict the school standards minister, claiming that academic pressure is affecting the wellbeing of their pupils.

Speaking to MPs this morning, Mr Gibb said: “The way to deal with exam pressures is to make sure that young people are taking exams earlier on in their school career – the end of Year 7, the end of Year 8 and so on – so they’re used to taking exams.”

He denied that the government’s reforms to the GCSE system was having an adverse effect on pupils’ mental health. “I don’t think it’s right to say that reforms to the curriculum are the cause of young people’s anxiety and mental-health pressure,” he said.

For example, he said, removing the modular element of GCSEs has meant that pupils sit fewer exams during the course, and feel less pressure to resit exams if they did not perform as well as expected.

Read the full article on the Tes.

North East Education News: Quick Links w/c 5th February – Darlington & Stockton Times, Richmond pupils launch eco-friendly scheme. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Disabled mum’s delight as Redcar College shows compassion. – Chronicle Live, Gateshead schools: How do they perform in league tables and which are rated the best? – Chronicle Live, Free school meals plan means children will go without if their parents work extra hours, MPs warn. – Chronicle Live, Who was Thomas Hepburn, the man behind the name of a school facing closure. – Chronicle Live, ‘Unacceptable waiting times’ and parents forced to be ‘pushy’: Ofsted slams special needs service. – Chronicle Live – Ofsted results for North East schools: How do inspectors say they are performing? – Hartlepool Mail, Free school meals revamp ‘could leave million children without hot food’. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school looks to help even more students excel in performing arts. – Gazette Live, Improvements being made at ‘inadequate’ Redcar and Cleveland College. – Gazette Live, 100-pupil special school set to be built in central Redcar. – Gazette Live, Happy news for bright Teesside students after they receive Oxbridge offers. – Gazette Live, New Galileo trust takes over 10 Teesside schools – is your child one of the 3,000 affected? – News Post Leader, Bede Academy promotes 3-18 learning model. – Northumberland Gazette, ‘Not many options’ for school future. – Northumberland Gazette, Welcome for legislation on home education. – Northumberland Gazette, Stay and Play success. – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland school celebrates good Ofsted report. – Sunderland Echo, Head speaks of pride after school judged as outstanding by Ofsted once again. – Hexham Courant, Concerns over education reforms highlighted by committee. – Hexham Courant, Children should sit exams earlier on in their school career to help them cope with exam pressures, the School Standards Minister has said. – Hexham Courant, End the ‘obsession’ with academic degrees, says senior Tory. – The Durham Advertiser, Unions warn of fall in number of teachers at secondary schools. – The Durham Advertiser, Plan for Pathways School rebuild on target for Redcar pupils. – The Durham Advertiser, Concerned parents call on Durham Country Council to shelve plans to merge junior and infant schools in Wingate. – The Durham Advertiser, Sunderland students help shape future of mental health education. – The Durham Advertiser, Sixth form admissions to be suspended at Wolsingham due to funding pressures. – The Durham Advertiser, Setting the right educational platform. – The Durham Advertiser, Union calls for all teachers to decide how PEF cash is spent.

Government failure on teacher numbers adds to pressure on schools

The Public Account Committee report says there is a growing sense of crisis for schools in England struggling to retain and develop teaching workforce.

A variety of factors have contributed to the growing sense of crisis for schools in England struggling to retain and develop their teachers.

Particularly worrying is that the number of secondary school teachers has been falling since 2010 and more teachers have been leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement since 2012.

Many teachers have cited heavy workloads as a reason for their departure. At the same time pupil numbers are rising and the Department for Education expects schools to make significant savings from using their staff more efficiently.

Department gave insufficient priority to teacher retention

The Department should have been able to foresee this situation and take action to address it. By its own admission, the Department has given insufficient priority to teacher retention and development.

It has got the balance wrong between training new teachers and supporting the existing workforce, with spending on the former 15 times greater than on the latter.

The Department has a disparate collection of small-scale interventions but these are inadequate to address the underlying issues.

Significant variation in teaching vacancies across country

In addition, the quality of teaching and the level of teaching vacancies vary significantly across the country. However, the Department does not seem to understand the reasons for the variation or the different challenges that schools in different regions face.

The failure of the Department to get to grips with the number of teachers leaving puts additional pressure on schools faced with rising numbers of children needing a school place and the teachers to teach them.

Committee Chair, Meg Hillier MP, said: “A crisis is brewing in English classrooms but Government action to address it has been sluggish and incoherent.

It should have been clear to senior civil servants that growing demand for school places, combined with a drive for schools to make efficiency savings, would only build pressure in the system.

Instead they seem to have watched on, scratching their heads, as more and more teachers quit the profession.

Government must get a grip on teacher retention and we expect it to set out a targeted, measurable plan to support struggling schools as a matter of urgency.

There are other troubling trends. In 2015/16 school leaders filled only around half of their vacancies with sufficiently qualified and experienced teachers.

There are significant regional variations in vacancy levels and the quality of teaching also varies across the country. There is not enough good quality, continuing professional development available.

There is a real danger that, without meaningful intervention from Government, these challenges will become an intractable threat to children’s education.”

Read the North East angle on the Evening Chronicle.

Bright Tribe pays £680,000 in related-party transactions

A controversial multi-academy trust has paid more than £680,000 to firms owned or controlled by a board member who runs its sponsor company.

Bright Tribe Trust, which runs 10 schools in the North West and South East, was last year investigated by the Education Skills and Funding Agency over “related party transactions” made by the trust to companies run by Michael Dwan, a venture capitalist.

Mr Dwan is the founding trustee of Helping Hands Trust – which set up the MAT with one other company – and sits as its representative on the Bright Tribe Trust board.

He is also a director of three other businesses that have been paid a total of £681,000 from Bright Tribe in the year until 31 August 2017 – down from £3.9 million the previous year.

The latest accounts filed by Bright Tribe, for 2016-17, state that purchases were made at “cost or less” from the companies.

The £681,000, the accounts state, “can be analysed as £342k cost of staff TUPE’d from the trust/other recharges, £339,000 secondments the trust and nil services provided to the trust”.

Read the full article on the Tes.