Impact of Universal Credit on FSM eligibility

Research by Education DataLab suggests FSM eligibility has risen in Universal Credit pilot areas because of various guarantees on retaining eligibility the Government has made.

In the medium term these areas are likely to receive more funding through Pupil Premium and other funding pots aimed at tackling disadvantage and attainment statistics for disadvantaged pupils will be boosted by the inclusion of less-disadvantaged pupil in the measure. Read the full article here.

DataLab’s research had previously shown that FSM eligibility rates fell across most of the North East from 2002 to 2016. 



Amanda Spielman uses Schools North East Summit speech to set out vision for future

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, set out her vision for the new Education Inspection Framework in her keynote address to the School North East Summit yesterday.

Ms Spielman said that outcomes will no longer be a separate judgement in a school’s overall grading, instead it would form part of a wider education grade.

In total, she outlined three proposed changes that will make a fundamental difference to the way inspections are conducted:

  1. Losing outcomes as a standalone judgement.
  2. Broadening the existing quality of teaching, learning and assessment judgement into a quality of education judgement.
  3. Splitting the current judgement of personal development, behaviour and welfare into 2 separate judgements: one for behaviour and attitudes and the other for personal development.

She shared some of the reasoning behind the planned changes to inspection and reflected on how they will affect schools serving children from more disadvantaged areas.

Ms Spielman said: “While I think that current performance measures are as good as they have ever been in capturing outcomes, I want to make sure that at Ofsted, we focus on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’: the essence of what performance tables cannot capture. This will let us reward schools for doing the right thing by their pupils.

“That doesn’t mean there will be no link between what we find about the quality of education, and what the published data says. They are, one hopes, somewhat correlated. But inspection should be a slightly different conversation. It should ask a different question. We want to know what is being taught and how schools are achieving a good education, not just what the results are looking like.”

The HMCI said Ofsted has in the past not placed enough emphasis on the curriculum, focusing too much on outcomes when considering the overall effectiveness of schools.

Under the new framework she said Ofsted would challenge schools where too much time is spent on preparation for tests at the expense of teaching, where pupil’s choices are narrowed, or where children are pushed into less rigorous qualifications simply to boost league table positions.

She said “Inspection absolutely should not just be about putting a judgement sticker on a school. What we are about is making sure that in the process of coming to that judgement, we are supporting schools. That we are being that force for improvement.”

A consultation on the new framework will be launched in January and it will come into force in September 2019.

The full transcript of the speech is available here.

The TES report on her speech can be found here.

55,800+ children denied access to CAMHS services – EPI report

A new report from the Education Policy Institute shows that the number of children referred to mental health services in England has risen by more than a quarter in the last five years but one in four do not receive support.

The report identified the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust as the area with the second highest average waiting time for treatment, while South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust was the second lowest. However, it points out that waiting times across providers are not necessarily comparable, as some providers may only offer certain specialist services.

According to the EPI, at least 55,800 children were denied access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) last year in England.

Referrals were regularly rejected because the child’s situation was thought to be “not serious enough” but children who had self-harmed or experienced abuse were among those denied access.

According to the research most providers don’t follow up with those who have been unable to access treatment.

The report says a quarter of councils admit to phasing out vital services – including school mental health services and support for those living with domestic abuse.

David Laws, executive chairman of the EPI, has said: “This report shows a significant increase in demand for children’s mental health services over the last five years, even as many local authorities are having to cut back on the services they are providing.

“This is very worrying and could lead to increased access problems.”

“A large number of children referred to mental health services are already rejected for treatment, and the follow-up for these children looks unsatisfactory.”

Read the full report here.

National Audit Office concerned about lack of data on mental health spending

NAO mental health report

The National Audit Office has warned that the lack of school spending data on mental health means planning support for pupils is not possible.

The spending watchdog said the Government must put in place mechanisms to “improve understanding of spend and activity on mental health support across the system, particularly in schools and local authorities”.

It found the paucity of data “limits the government’s ability to make informed decisions about the level of support offered to children in different areas of the country”.

Read the full “improving children and young people’s mental health services” report here.

Media coverage of the Schools North East Summit 

Following the announcement by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman yesterday at the Schools North East Summit, many regional and national media picked up on the story which placed a spotlight on the North East.

You can see some of the coverage here:

The Guardian

Ofsted inspectors to stop using exam results as key mark of success

 The Independent

Ofsted to drop focus on exam results in school inspections, chief inspector says

FE News

Amanda Spielman sets out vision for new education inspection framework

The Telegraph

Ofsted to drop focus on exam results because curriculum is a ‘casualty’ of current system, chief inspector says

Amanda Spielman speech to the Schools North East summit

BBC News

Ofsted inspectors to move away from exams results focus

Channel 4

Ofsted to stop using exam results as key marker of success

The Times

Ofsted will look beyond exam grades to assess schools

Schools Week

Spielman to reveal new inspection judgment headings

Ofsted chief ‘horrified’ by accusations of knowledge bias in curriculum review


Spielman: Teachers ‘reduced to data managers’

Ofsted: ‘Our new inspections will reduce your workload’

Ofsted’s ‘shot across the bows’ for schools gaming the system

Financial Times

Ofsted head says focus Will shift away from exams

DfE warned by UK statistics watchdog on funding claims

The UK Statistics Authority has written to the DfE stating that the Department’s claims about school funding were “presented in such a way as to misrepresent changes”.

In a letter to the DfE’s chief statistician, Ed Humpherson ,Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority, states:

“The way statistics have been presented gives a potentially misleading picture of changes in schools funding. In particular, the graph in the Tweet had a truncated axis that gives an exaggerated picture of the improvements; and the Tweet was presented in cash terms, not real terms. It also did not take account of an increase in the number of school age children in England. In addition, we are concerned about a related blog on school funding (which the Department has now updated). In this blog, the Department compared spending on education with that in other OECD countries. The comparison included a range of aspects of spending that are unrelated to school funding.”

Read the UK Statistics Authority’s letters to the DfE here:

UKSA to DfE permanent secretary Jonathan Slater, warning: “It is important that any Government department maintains a reputation as a trustworthy communicator of statistics.”

UKSA to education secretary Damian Hinds, warning over “serious concerns about the Department for Education’s presentation and use of statistics”

UKSA to DfE chief statistician Neil McIvor, warning: “The way statistics have been presented gives a potentially misleading picture of changes in schools funding”.



DfE announces £24m Opportunity North East programme

The Government has announced a £24m programme, Opportunity North East, to improve outcomes for children in the North East.

Schools North East Director Mike Parker was invited to attend a roundtable discussion with the Education Secretary Damian Hinds, alongside several school leaders from the region.

Schools will be aware that Schools North East has campaigned vociferously for the Department for Education to recognise the need for targeted investment in the region’s education system following its decision not to locate any of its flagship 12 Opportunity Areas in the region. We have met with DfE officials, influenced MPs and have been quoted many times in the print and broadcast media.

Launching Opportunity North East, the Secretary of State laid out five challenges he wants the initiative to address:

  1. Transition from primary to secondary education.
  2. Ensuring that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds who are high performing in primary schools go on to achieve high outcomes at the end of secondary school.
  3. Targeted support for 20-25 struggling secondary schools in the region.
  4. More effective careers engagement to promote ambition and aspiration.
  5. More progression to higher education.

The discussion on the day broadened out considerably beyond the five challenges and covered both within school settings around professional development, and recruitment/retention. It also focused on the factors outside of schools that have a profound impact on outcomes including the role of parents and other services.

In addition to school leaders and DfE representatives, other participants were drawn from further education and higher education, the private sector and local authorities.

What was clear from all who attended the meeting is that there is a willingness to work together in partnership which goes beyond the financial commitment from the Government.

A Board will be appointed, chaired by Lord Agnew, to take the initiative forward.

Schools North East will continue to work on behalf of all schools to support efforts to improve outcomes for pupils in this region.

Speaking at the tenth annual Schools North East Summit in Newcastle yesterday, Director Mike Parker said of Opportunity North East: “It is unique – the only regionwide initiative of its kind. It is £24m – But it’s much more than the funding; it will leverage in other projects; and, it has the potential to harness partnerships to better support schools.”

He called for all schools to get behind the programme, saying: “Is it a panacea? Only if we make it one. It won’t happen on its own.”

Schools North East was the first and the loudest voice to call for parity of opportunity in this region. Regulars at our events will be aware this has been pursued with great tenacity’.

Mr Parker said: “We also need you to support us to best represent you. This is an amazingly powerful, collective voice here in this room and we have a tremendous amount to bring to ensure this is a game changer.”


“North East at centre of national education debate”, leaders say

EDUCATION in the North East is at the centre of policy discussions at the heart of Government like never before, according to national leaders.

Delegates at the Summit were told that the region was dominating the debate and that the influencing voice of Schools North East, alongside other bodies, had propelled the region’s needs up the political agenda.

Praise for the region’s lobbying voice came during a panel discussion at yesterday’s Schools North East Summit which was chaired by Ann Mroz, TES Editor, with Maura Regan, CEO of Carmel Education Trust, Sally Green, Head Teacher at Thornhill Primary School in Shildon, County Durham, Mark Lehain, Director of the New Schools Network, Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First and John D’Abbro, Head of the New Rush Hall Group.

Ms Mroz told the audience: “‘Schools North East has played a huge part in making the NE part of the London conversation.”

This was echoed by Mr Lehain, who said the North East increasingly comes up in discussions with Ministers. He added: “The people with the money know they need to spend it in the North East.”

Panellists debated the announcement of the £24m Opportunity North East programme, announced by the Education Secretary Damian Hinds in the region on Monday, and reflected on HMCI Amanda Spielman’s keynote speech at the conference earlier that day.

Opportunity North East

Sally Green said working together has to be the way forward. The system has become fragmented and this is an opportunity to come together going forward. She said Schools North East is a great vehicle for doing this.

Mark Lehain said there hasn’t been a better time for regional school leaders to tell the Government what they want.

Russell Hobby asked whether too much focus on structure could in fact be part of the problem. We need to begin with outcomes and ask what difference teachers in the classroom would notice from our actions. A few things done well that every teacher could feel would make a big difference.

Ofsted 2019 Framework and Amanda Spielman’s speech

Maura Regan welcomed HMCI’s keynote speech, saying she thought it was “fantastic”, but said the difficulty is inspectors are varied in their approaches, e.g. some want to see a lot of data and others don’t. There is an engrained mindset at Ofsted that will not easily shift. For example, would Ofsted really put a school in RI if they had outstanding results, regardless of anything else.

John D’Abbro said children don’t come to school with the goal of being disaffected. We need to use applied learning and show where the curriculum you’re offering fits into their life chances. Sometimes children don’t see the leap between their learning and their life chances.

Mark Lehain said he was torn by Amanda Spielman’s speech. He said we shouldn’t be doing these things just because Ofsted want us to. The question is how will this look in an inspection? When you have half an hour in an inspection how are they going to evidence a broad and balanced curriculum? It could end up either a mess or with everyone getting good results. We need more detail about how it’s going to work.

Russell Hobby said that what tends to happen in education is we identify a problem and put an intervention into that area, which is completely the wrong approach. We need an accountability framework that recognises that these things take time. If we could measure results over the long-term we would see much better outcomes.

Education Links w/c 8th October – Chronicle Live, Labour criticises government record on North East education following £24 million funding announcement. – Chronicle Live, Is it enough? Here’s what North East teachers think of the Government’s £24m funding pledge. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Statistics watchdog tells Education Department of ‘serious concerns’ on data use. – Darlington & Stockton Times, £24m education fund will stop North-East being ‘left behind’. – The Northern Echo, World Teachers’ Day: Students learn best from risk-taking teachers, study finds. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool boys less likely to pass Year 1 reading tests than girls. – Hartlepool Mail, School backs coaching firm run by ex-Pools boss. – Hartlepool Mail, Film festival will help educate Hartlepool schoolchildren through movies. – Sunderland Echo, Bodyguard actor returns to home to inspire college students. – Sunderland Echo, New partnership launched to promote education in Sunderland’s leisure industry. – Shields Gazette, South Tyneside school reading test figures spark debate. – Shields Gazette, Spending per pupil South Tyneside drops as teachers warn schools are ‘on their knees’. – Northumberland Gazette, VIDEO: Wooler First School’s new pupils are in fine voice. – Northumberland Gazette, Boost for education funding in Northumberland. – Northumberland Gazette, VIDEO: Sing-a-long with the new pupils at Swansfield Park Primary School.

Private school fees in minister’s funding claims

The figures quoted by Education Ministers defending their record on state school spending also included the money spent by parents on private school fees.

This has been confirmed by the OECD think tank that compiles the international comparisons of spending figures.

Head Teachers’ leaders say the Department for Education is “disrespecting” schools and teachers by this “extraordinary” use of statistics.

The Department for Education accepts that the spending claim is not limited to public spending on schools – but it stands by its use of the figure as “accurate”.

But the Heads warned that the department has “serious questions to answer” over its “veracity”.

This follows the discovery earlier this week that the spending claims quoted by the Department for Education were also counting the tuition fees being paid by university students.

Read the full article on the BBC.