DfE publish interim findings on improving vulnerable children’s well-being

The DfE has published interim findings in its “Improving the educational outcomes of Children in Need of help” review, designed to give teachers and social workers advice to improving vulnerable children’s well-being, behaviour and school attendance.

The interim findings highlight ways to support children in need of help and protection in education such as:

  • training for professionals to recognise the lasting impact of trauma and adversity on children’s school attendance, learning, behaviour and well-being;
  • better information sharing and multi-agency working between schools and other local agencies on the child’s family circumstances; and
  • inclusion in school and making proportionate adjustments to promote better outcomes – such as teachers adapting how they communicate with vulnerable children and how they manage their behaviour.

The findings mention Operation Encompass, an initiative focused on children exposed to domestic abuse, whereby police quickly alert school safeguarding leads of incidents by the next day. Schools can then discuss how best to support the pupil.

Read the full interim findings here.


North East primaries improve performance in league tables

Revised Key Stage 2 performance figures released yesterday show continued improvement in the North East – though gender gaps have widened.

The percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics rose from 65% last year to 67% this year in the North East. This is higher than the English average, which rose from 61% to 64%.

The attainment gap in favour of girls continues to widen however, rising from a 7% difference in 2017 to a 9% difference in 2018 in the North East. Similar gaps can be seen across the country.

Looking at pupils working at the higher standard, girls also outperformed boys in every subject other than Maths. Maths at the higher standard appears to be the only area where boys outperformed girls; at the expected standard girls still outperformed or equalled boys across most of the country.

Researchers have previously noted that problems with boys’ literacy appear in every country for which we have figures and across all outcome groups. That they occur across very different cultures and education systems suggests the gaps we see are unlikely to be due to anything specific to the English context.

Percentage of pupils reaching a higher standard at Key Stage 2 by gender 2017-18

England Boys Girls Gap
Grammar, punctuation and spelling 30 39 9
Reading 24 33 9
Maths 26 22 -4
Writing TA 15 25 10


North East Boys Girls Gap
Grammar, punctuation and spelling 30 40 10
Reading 25 33 8
Maths 25 23 -2
Writing TA 16 28 12

The improvement in KS2 results in the North East, which has been evident for the last five years, also has potential implications for KS4 performance measures. As the Government’s preferred Progress 8 measure tracks progress from KS2 to KS4, we will see a decline in Progress 8 scores unless KS4 results also rise.

View the full datasets here.

Ofsted could give schools just 150 minutes’ notice

Schools could get little more than 150 minutes’ notice before Ofsted inspectors arrive under plans for its new inspection framework, it has been suggested this week.

Inspectors would then prepare at the school for a formal inspection which would start the following day.

Ofsted is understood to be keen to ensure that it has an opportunity to see schools as they really are, however the news has angered a teachers’ leader who says schools should have at least 24 hours’ notice before inspectors visit them.

As reported in Tes this week, the new plans would see inspectors contacting a school by telephone before 10am and then arriving after 12.30pm on the same day. Currently schools are told on the afternoon before inspectors arrive, giving them the opportunity to prepare into the night before Ofsted enters their school.

The new regime could make a big practical difference to Heads, but it would not require Ofsted to reduce the formal notice period it gives schools because the actual inspection will not start until the following day.

Mary Bousted, National Education Union joint General Secretary said: “If this is what Ofsted proposes then I think school leaders will be concerned by it. It is clear this pre-inspection meeting will be an important conversation otherwise what would be the point of having it?

“Given the scale of change that Ofsted is proposing with its new framework, I think it is only common courtesy for school leaders to be given at least 24 hours before visiting to give them time to prepare and collect their thoughts.”

You can read the full story on Tes.

Young people highly sceptical of social mobility 

Young people are highly sceptical about advancement being a reality, according to a survey from the relaunched Social Mobility Commission.

It found many young adults expected to be worse off than previous generations and believed opportunities depended on social background rather than talent.

The previous commissioners resigned over a lack of progress.

The new chair, Dame Martina Milburn, said she wanted “to create a fair system where people can thrive”.

The commission is being relaunched after the previous chair Alan Milburn and commissioners walked out a year ago, protesting that there was no sign of any “meaningful action” from the government.

You can read the full story on the BBC.

Pupil nationality data: Collection misses data for more than 1 million pupils

Schools failed to collect pupil nationality and country of birth data for hundreds of thousands of pupils for the second year running following an outcry over the controversial policy and a boycott by parents and schools.

Data released this week by the Department for Education shows that the government failed to obtain nationality data for 17.8% of pupils in this year’s spring census. This equates to more than 1.4 million children.

This data is listed as “not yet obtained” by schools for 15.4% of pupils, while 1.5% of families refused to provide it.

The government is also missing country of birth data for 16% of children.

This was “not obtained” for 13.6% of pupils, and “refused” for 1.6%.

You can read the full article on Schools Week.

Education Links w/c 10th December 2018

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/durham-councillors-use-reserves-help-15542884 – Chronicle Live, Durham councillors to use reserves to help fund gap in finances for special educational needs.

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/new-project-improve-education-brings-15538465 – Chronicle Live, New project to improve education brings Sunderland children’s services boss on board.

https://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/national/17293955.teachers-leaders-say-scottish-budget-deeply-disappointing-on-education/ – Darlington & Stockton Times, Teachers’ leaders say Scottish budget ‘deeply disappointing’ on education.

https://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/17291990.darlington-students-given-space-to-flourish-at-college/ – Darlington and Stockton Times, Darlington students given space to flourish at college.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/northyorkshire/17286582.federation-plans-are-on-schools-curriculum-in-whitby/ – Darlington & Stockton Times, Federation plans are on schools’ curriculum in Whitby.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/17293991.yarm-school-head-schools-should-not-abandon-nativity-plays-due-to-political-correctness/ – The Northern Echo, Yarm school head: Schools should not abandon nativity plays due to political correctness.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/17294163.pupils-hit-the-right-note-for-hospice/ – The Northern Echo, Pupils hit the right note for hospice.

https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/education/this-hartlepool-primary-school-received-a-thumbs-up-from-ofsted-inspectors-1-9488781 – Hartlepool Mail, This Hartlepool primary school received a thumbs up from Ofsted inspectors.

https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/young-athletes-in-hartlepool-to-get-double-the-chance-to-reach-their-full-potential-1-9485440 – Hartlepool Mail, Young athletes in Hartlepool to get double the chance to reach their full potential.

https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/education/rudolph-visits-hartlepool-to-make-christmas-dreams-come-true-1-9486126 – Hartlepool Mail, Rudolph visits Hartlepool to make Christmas dreams come true.

https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/education/hartlepool-school-pupils-hailed-after-reaching-finals-of-tag-rugby-competition-1-9485166 – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school pupils hailed after reaching finals of tag rugby competition.

https://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/heating-problems-send-pupils-home-from-south-shields-primary-school-1-9485796 – Shields Gazette, Heating problems send pupils home from South Shields primary school.  

https://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/south-tyneside-school-cooks-whip-up-recipe-for-success-1-9481885 – Shields Gazette, South Tyneside school cooks whip up recipe for success.

https://www.berwick-advertiser.co.uk/news/picture-of-improvement-in-recent-years-for-northumberland-skills-service-1-4841792‘Picture of improvement’ in recent years for Northumberland skills service.

Ofsted publishes annual report

Ofsted has published the Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of
Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/18. The report’s key findings for the North East were:

  • By the end of August 2018, 85% of schools in the North East were judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection, compared with 86% nationally. This was a one percentage point decline for the region compared with August 2017.
  • For primary schools, 90% in the region were judged to be good or outstanding, the same as in August 2017. North Tyneside and Redcar and Cleveland had 95% of their primary schools judged good or outstanding compared with 79% in Darlington. Northumberland had the highest rate of improvement across the region, whereas in South Tyneside the proportion of good or outstanding schools declined by nine percentage points compared with 2017.
  • For secondary schools, 58% were judged to be good or outstanding; below the national figure and a four percentage point decline compared with August 2017. In Middlesbrough and Newcastle upon Tyne 71% of inspected secondary schools were good or outstanding compared with three of the eight inspected schools (38%) in Darlington. Gateshead had the highest rate of improvement in the proportion of good or outstanding secondary schools compared with 2017.
  • In England around 19,000 pupils, that is 4% of pupils, did not progress from Year 10 in January 2016 to Year 11 in January 2017. In the North East it was around 900 pupils (3%).

The report also praised the performance of some North East primary schools in disadvantaged pupils’ reading progress, saying:

“The data shows that in some economically deprived areas – for example, Newham in London and Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East – children eligible for FSM perform much better than in more affluent areas such as West Berkshire. These differences are particularly stark for boys who are eligible for FSM.”

Responding to the report, Chris Zarraga, Schools North East’s Director of Operations and Development, said:

“Schools North East would welcome a wider debate following this report around school exclusions and disadvantaged children in the North East.

“The report shows some positive results for the region, particularly in Ofsted grades for our primaries, but it is concerning that the two stages of primary and secondary are once again being pitted against each other. Ofsted grades statistically bear a very close relationship to a school’s levels of deprivation. Our region’s secondary results are a reflection of deprivation levels in the North East, rather than the region underperforming against other areas of the country. When differences in school intakes, levels of relative poverty, and the prior attainment of students are factored in, the differences with other regions disappear.

“Ofsted’s report also fails to acknowledge the impact of inadequate levels of funding in schools and local support services, which have a disproportionately greater effect on deprived areas such as the North East.”

“Schools North East strongly welcomes the Department for Education’s newest initiative in the region, Opportunity North East, which has the potential to address this issue and ensure that our secondary schools get the support and recognition that they deserve, with equal opportunities to help our children receive an excellent education.”

Read the full report here.

Disadvantaged children far more likely to feel lonely, says ONS report

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published a study on loneliness among children and young people. Statisticians found that 27.5% of children who received free school meals said they were “often” lonely, compared with 5.5% of those who did not. Other findings included:

  • 11.3% of children said that they were “often” lonely; this was more common among younger children aged 10 to 12 years (14.0%) than among those aged 13 to 15 years (8.6%).
  • 27.5% of children who received free school meals said they were “often” lonely, compared with 5.5% of those who did not.
  • 19.5% of children living in a city reported “often” feeling lonely, compared with just over 5% of those living in either towns or rural areas.
  • Children who reported “low” satisfaction with their health said they “often” felt lonely (28.3%), compared with those who had “medium, high or very high” satisfaction (about 10%).
  • Children who reported “low” satisfaction with their relationships with family and friends were also more likely to say they were “often” lonely (34.8% and 41.1%, respectively)

Commenting, Dawn Snape from the ONS said the study would provide more information about how loneliness might affect people’s health and well-being. She said:

“We’ve looked at how often children and young people feel lonely and why. An important factor is going through transitional life stages such as the move from primary to secondary school and, later, leaving school or higher education and adapting to early adult life.”

Read the full report here.

Opportunity North East Board Announced

The Board for Opportunity North East has been announced.

Opportunity North East, which was unveiled by the Department of Education on Monday 8th October, is the England’s first and only region-led Opportunity Area and is set to bring a £24 million investment to support education in the North East.

Schools North East Director, Mike Parker, is one of the 12 representatives from the region who will sit on the Board of Opportunity North East.

The Board will be chaired by Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, and will include representatives in education and business from across the region, including Schools North East.

Mike Parker, Director of Schools North East, said: “I am delighted that Schools North East, the UK’s first and only school-led regional network in the UK, has a seat at the table and is able to play a part in the decisions that will be made on how provision can be improved in the North East.

“Schools North East will work to ensure that the voices of our region’s schools are heard and listened to. We will continue to champion the bright and fulfilling futures that the children in our region deserve.”

Opportunity Areas, which were launched in 2016 and were based in a singular area, were designed to give schools access to funding and resources to boost opportunities for children in that area. Opportunity North East is the first initiative in which the Government is providing funds that will be used across an entire region.

You can read the full release on the announcement of the Opportunity North East Board here.

Parents must not abdicate role to schools, says Ofsted chief

Parents should not expect schools alone to provide solutions to problems like knife crime and obesity, the Ofsted HMCI has said.

Amanda Spielman, who presented Ofsted’s annual report on Tuesday, said that schools cannot be a “panacea” to all “societal ills”.

Health professionals, parents and safeguarding partners should ‘all play a role in protecting, educating and preparing children for adult life.’

Ms Spielman believes that expectations on schools to address obesity, child neglect and gang-related violence risks distracting them from their core purpose and results in a failure to solve such problems.

“Our education and care services don’t exist in isolation from the local areas they serve,” Ms Spielman said.

“They are and should be a central part of our communities. But being part of a community means being very clear what your responsibilities are, and what issues, however worthy, can only be tackled beyond the school, college or nursery gates.”

Read the full article on the Tes.