Education Links W/C 14/10/19 – Chronicle Live, ‘The roof is leaking and we’re getting more buckets’: Head says £73m cash boost won’t save schools. – Chronicle Live, Whitley Bay High Schools sends pupils home as suspected gas leak is investigated. – The Northern Echo, School spending ‘fails to reverse’ 2015 cuts. – The Northern Echo, Study calls for ‘creativity boost’ in school education. – The Northern Echo, Greenfield Community College hopeful despite ‘requiring improvement’ rating by Ofsted. – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland primary school pupils sleep out to help homeless charity Centrepoint. – Sunderland Echo, Caring schools give something back to community by helping Sunderland Foodbank. – Gazette Live, Nursery teaching assistant Jo is always smiling – and now has an extra reason to be happy. – Gazette Live, Guisborough school to join Stockton-based academy trust after stinging Ofsted report. – Gazette Live, Stockton primary school that once required improvement ‘absolutely delighted’ with ‘good’ Ofsted. – Northumberland Gazette, Creative Alnwick students rewarded for their artistic efforts.


Standing on the shoulders of giants at SNE Summit 2019

Over 520 North East Head Teachers attended the annual Schools North East Leadership Summit 2019, hearing from a range of expert speakers, academic researchers and other Head Teachers sharing their best practice.

Opening the day, Interim Director Chris Zarraga described how the Summit, now in it’s 11th year, ‘is the biggest regional event of its kind in the country, from one of the smallest but most geographically spread-out regions.’

This year’s Summit theme ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ highlighted the North East’s regional heritage, one of pioneers and dreamers. It was chosen as a direct response to the London-centric perspective which all too often dominates thinking in education, and the current misleading narrative of a North-South divide in educational achievement.

Emphasising that this is not the case, Chris Zarraga outlined the work of Schools North East going forward, with the intention to ‘change the narrative, change the practice.’ This will be done in two ways, with Schools North East establishing a ‘think tank’ in the region to own, understand, and broadcast the real narrative about our schools and the issues they face. Alongside that, the Ednorth programme will work across the region’s schools to change educational practice, creating a culture of evidence-based education in the North East.

However, underlining the strength of the misconceptions that North East students are achieving worse outcomes than elsewhere, Lord Agnew Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for the School System), providing an update on the work of Opportunity North East, perpetuated the idea that while Primary schools in the region are good, North East Secondary schools are failing.

Opportunity North East is a £24 million programme of investment which Schools North East actively lobbied for, for over two years, and which was announced last year. Lord Agnew’s speech updated delegates on the work of the programme, including the work with the ONE Vision schools and proposals for transition projects which are due to be funded in the New Year.

Other keynote speakers included Steve Munby on ‘Imperfect Leadership’ and Ofsted Senior Research Lead, Alan Passingham. The programme focused on ideas of ethical leadership and curriculum, with a central panel debate looking at the question ‘Does the new Ofsted Inspection Framework support ethical decision making?’

Schools North East Summit 2019 was sponsored by EPM and Avec Partnership.

The Media Partner for the Summit was TES.

Regional disparity in extra school funding

Department for Education figures show that additional funding for 2020/21 will differ significantly from region to region.

The increases will ensure every secondary school receives a minimum of £5,000 per pupil, however the regional analysis shows some areas will benefit from greater additional funding than others.

The North East will receive £73 million, significantly less than all other regions, due to its fewer overall pupil numbers. However, when looking at the percentage increase per pupil, the North East is receiving less than six other regions, with an increase of 3.8%.

Schools North East Interim Director, Chris Zarraga, said, ‘The data shows that there are significant disparities across the country in how the additional funding is distributed. Despite the high levels of long term disadvantage in our region, we will not be receiving adequate funding to support our hard working school leaders or our students as they try to narrow the attainment gap with more advantaged areas. Far greater support from the Government is needed, specifically targeted at those areas dealing with the greatest problems.’

Further reading:

Big regional differences in DfE’s extra schools funding

Education links w/c 7/10/19 – Chronicle Live, Walbottle Campus: Building on a summer of success. – Chronicle Live, Head Teacher of Walbottle Campus steps down after taking early retirement, school governors say. – Chronicle Live, Northumberland SEND school launches state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool. – Chronicle Live, Northumberland school exclusion levels ‘unacceptably high’ despite numbers falling. – The Northern Echo, What does success look like for your child? – The Northern Echo, New College Durham opens its doors for new students. – The Northern Echo, Olympian David Guest drops in on Bishop Auckland school. – Sunderland Echo, New Sunderland school told it ‘requires improvement’ in first Ofsted report. – Sunderland Echo, Two Sunderland primary schools could move and be rebuilt on new sites. – Sunderland Echo, School ‘over the moon’ with Ofsted report as new head is praised for improvements. – Gazette Live, School warns ex-students to collect exam certificates before they are ‘destroyed’.

72 ‘outstanding’ NE schools exempt from Ofsted Inspections for more than 10 years

The North East has the greatest proportion of schools in England that haven’t been inspected by Ofsted in more than 10 years. 72 schools haven’t been inspected in over a decade because of the exemption brought in by the Government in 2012.

Nationally, 23% of ‘outstanding’ schools haven’t been inspected in over 10 years, due to the exemption. Of those outstanding schools which were reinspected, more than half lost the top grade.

In a recent announcement, the Department for Education pledged to remove the exemption and reintroduce inspections for outstanding schools. Given the high proportion of schools which have not been inspected, this could have a significant impact on the North East. However, lifting the exemption would require a bill to be passed in Parliament, which in the current political climate may take some time.

Calls for lifting the ban have been welcomed by a number of organisations including ASCL and the NAHT, to ensure high standards are maintained.

SEND crisis as complaints surge

There has been a 45% rise in complaints to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman about SEND provision, in the last two years, a new report has stated. In addition to the surge in complaints, 9 out of 10 were upheld, according to the report ‘Not going to plan‘.

Ombudsman Michael King described the situation as ‘exceptional and unprecedented’, and that it ‘suggests a system in crisis’.

The complaints included long periods of delay, missed reviews, poor communication, and a lack oversight. The Ombudsman warned that this means some of our most vulnerable children are not getting the support they need, with a significant impact on their attainment.

However, councils have said they do not have enough resources to cope with the pressures. The Local Government Association (LGA) pointed to an 11% increase in Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) last year alone.

The LGA has previously highlighted underfunding in SEND provision, highlighting a funding gap of £806 million for 2019/20. In the recent funding announcements the Government pledged an extra £700 million for pupils with complex needs in 2020-21, however, this does not resolve the imminent funding gap that councils and schools face.

The situation has a significant impact for the North East, which alongside facing persistent lack of funding, has a higher proportion of students with EHCPs than the rest of the country.

Further Reading

BBC News

The Independent

LGA – Bright Futures: SEND Funding

Education links w/c 30/09/19 – Chronicle Live, Row erupts as Gateshead school changes uniform four weeks into new term. – Chronicle Live, Paramedics called to Walbottle Campus after pupil left with head injuries following ‘fight’. – Chronicle Live, Pupils’ touching show of support after Heaton Head Teacher targeted with homophobic abuse. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Children in Darlington ‘waiting 18 months’ for autism diagnosis. – The Northern Echo, Schools to be ‘worse off’ says unions despite Government spending pledge. – The Northern Echo, Pupils’ charity efforts are the icing on the cake. – The Northern Echo, Sunderland and Newcastle students urged to be safe and respectful. – Gazette Live, Proposed location of Middlesbrough’s new school revealed with land sale recommended for approval. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school wins prestigious accolade at the national Careers Excellence Awards. – Hartlepool Mail, New health and care academy will ‘underpin the future of provision’ in Hartlepool.

Schools North East Supports Glenamara Memorial Awards Prize

Schools North East are pleased to announce that we are supporting a new prize as part of the Lord Glenamara Memorial Awards 2019/20.

It was announced earlier this year that the Awards would be expanding to recognise young people who have excelled in technical education, alongside academic education. For the first time, the awards will also recognise the hard work of teachers, tutors and other educational professionals in the North East who are helping young people to achieve their potential.

As such, Schools North East are delighted to be supporting the new Pastoral Care Award, for a teacher or team. Given the charity’s strong focus on pupil mental health, both through the work of the Healthy Minded Commission and our annual Healthy MindED Conference, we firmly believe in recognising the excellent pastoral care across the region.

The prize will be awarded to a teacher, tutor or team who are dedicated to supporting student and staff mental health and wellbeing, support ‘at risk’ learners, educate others about importance of pastoral care in schools, and who have built respect and trust of both students and the school community.

Schools North East Director of Operations, Chris Zarraga, said ‘Pupil welfare and mental health is constantly cited as a growing concern by Head Teachers, and as such has been established as one of the charity’s four pillars. We know there is excellent work happening to support the welfare of students in the region and we are delighted to be able to recognise the teachers, tutors and teams who are achieving this.’

Nominations open on 1st October 2019 and close on 4th November 2019.

An awards ceremony will take place in 2020, hosted by Durham University, to celebrate prize-winners.

Two-thirds of recent SEND inspections uncover failings

17 of the 26 local authority areas checked by inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, have been asked to produce a written statement of action. This is the worst possible outcome for these inspections.

Inspections of education and support for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have showed significant weaknesses in quality of education, health care plans and poor exam outcomes for SEND children. There are also concerns about the high numbers of children with special needs being excluded or absent from school and a lack of confidence among parents in the system.

Out of the nine areas in the North East which have been inspected since 2016, eight have been ordered to produce written statements. The higher prevalence of failings found in the region point to the ongoing issues of lack of funding, stretched resources for the schools and councils and a lack of places in Alternative Provision. Meanwhile, there are growing numbers of children requiring EHCPs and schools are under huge pressures from the growing prevalence of mental health issues amongst students.

This underlines previous calls from Schools North East around funding for the region, targeted to the students who need it the most, and adequate provision for SEND students.

There are growing calls for Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, to tackle the crisis. Gillian Doherty from the SEND Action group said “Councils have been given these extra responsibilities for children with SEND at a time when they have less resources than ever and the results have been catastrophic for families with SEND.”

Quarter of Secondary pupils receive private tuition

A report by the Sutton Trust has shown that 27% of secondary school pupils have received private tuition, with students from wealthier homes significantly more likely to have accessed extra support.

The Sutton Trust is calling on the Government to introduce a means tested scheme which would allow poorer families to access private tuition.

The figures show that a third of affluent children had a tutor while only a fifth of disadvantaged students did.

There were also stark regional differences with 41% of secondary pupils in London admitting to having a private tutor, while the North East had one of the lowest rates in the country. This is unsurprising given the high levels of long term economic deprivation faced by families across the region.

A spokesperson from the Department for Education said: “We have invested an extra £2.4bn this year alone through the pupil premium and schools have flexibility over how they use this funding, which can include providing one-to-one or small group tuition to ensure disadvantaged pupils get the extra support they need.”

However, Schools North East Director of Operations Chris Zarraga, said “The report shows that there is a significant wealth divide in those who can access private tuition, with the students from backgrounds and in areas which require the most extra support, the least likely to be able to afford it. This means that differing rates of access to private tuition will be contributing to the widening disadvantage gap in the North East.”

Further reading:

The Independent – More private tuition agencies should provide free lessons for poorer pupils, charity says