BUDGET 2017: the key points

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his first Budget yesterday, making a series of education-related announcements. Below is a breakdown of the key points he made during his speech, along with comments from SCHOOLS NorthEast.

Free schools and grammar schools expansion

The Government will extend the free schools programme with investment of £320m in this Parliament to help fund up to 140 schools, including independent-led, faith, selective, university-led and specialist maths schools.

Of these, 30 were announced to open in September 2020 and the new free schools “will be located where they are most needed to improve the choice of schools available to parents, following a rigorous assessment of local factors”.

The Government has also expanded the current ‘extended rights’ entitlement for children aged 11-16 who receive free school meals or whose parents claim Maximum Working Tax Credit. Under these conditions, they will now get free transport to attend the nearest selective school in their area.

In Autumn Statement 2016 the Government also pledged £50m per year of new funding towards the expansion of existing grammar schools.

Mr Parker commented: “Demand for school places, particularly in secondary schools, is rising sharply so additional funding to increase capacity is welcome. The argument that grammar schools is the solution has yet to be proven. In fact, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that, in areas where grammar schools are in operation, pupils who do not attend selective schools ‘make less progress in partially-selective and wholly-selective areas than in areas without selection’.

“The fixation on school structure gets in the way of the real issue which is that we need to make sure we’ve got sufficient places at good quality schools across the country.”

T-levels: funding technical education 

The Government pledged to increase the number of programme hours of training for 16-19 year olds on technical routes by more than 50%, to over 900 hours a year on average, including the completion of a high quality industry work placement during the programme.

The routes will be introduced from 2019-20 and £500m of additional funding per year invested once routes are fully implemented.

The new T-levels were announced by the Chancellor as “game-changing” reforms to technical qualifications.

Director Mike Parker said: “Giving vocational qualifications an equal standing to academic ones is a positive step and efforts to streamline the system will make it easier for pupils and parents to make the right choice.

“However, if the Government does not focus on funding 0-16 education adequately, it risks harming the ability of children deciding to study for these T-level qualifications. We must ensure children don’t miss out on the strong educational grounding that is essential to give them the skills and ability to go on to achieve advanced qualifications – both vocational and academic.”


Funding for school maintenance 

The Chancellor announced a further £216m investment in school maintenance, to help rebuild and refurbish existing schools. The money will be allocated over the course of two academic years, with half spent in 2018-19 and the other half in 2019-20.

Mike Parker commented: “Funding to help rebuild and refurbish existing schools is much needed. However, it doesn’t fill the operational blackhole in schools across England.”

£1bn for school sports from the sugar tax 

The Chancellor announced that the sugar tax revenue was lower than initially forecast, as manufacturers reduced the sugar content in some products. Despite the shortfall, the Treasury will give the Department for Education £1bn over the rest of this parliament to spend on sports activities in schools and to help promote healthy lifestyles amongst pupils.


National Careers Week 2017 #NCW2017

National Careers Week 2017 is taking place this week between 6-11 March, promoting the importance of good careers education in schools and colleges.

Every year this is a celebration of careers and free resources in education across the UK and encourages education providers to bring together students, local employers and advisers through careers events and activities.

SCHOOLS NorthEast will hold a Spring Term Ofsted briefing with a themed discussion around careers education. This will be led by Adrian Lyons HMI, Ofsted’s National Lead for economics, business and enterprise, who spearheaded the ‘Getting Ready for Work’ report, published by Ofsted in November 2016.

We will hold two events in two different locations in the region, to maximise the opportunity for school leaders to attend. These will take place on Wednesday 5 April:

South of the region
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Venue: Inspire2 Learn, Normanby Road, South Bank, Middlesbrough, TS6 9AE

North of the region
Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Venue: The Durham Centre, Belmont Industrial Estate, Durham, DH1 1TN

Visit the event page for more information or email info@schoolsnortheast.com to book your place.

SCHOOLS NorthEast also held its annual careers conference last month. FutureReady 2017 helped schools from across the region to access best practice in careers guidance, vital in making sure their pupils are equipped with the knowledge and experiences, along with the key attributes and attitudes, they need to succeed in the 21st century. You can read a summary of the event here and you can access all speaker presentations here.


Hammond must use first Budget to fill funding blackhole in schools

SCHOOLS NorthEast is calling on Chancellor Phillip Hammond to use his first Budget to tackle the funding crisis within schools.

Increases in employers’ pension costs and national insurance contributions, coupled with cuts in support services and heightened pressures such as growing pupil mental health issues have left schools facing a £3bn shortfall by 2020, according to the National Audit Office.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has identified that schools are losing £339 for every primary age pupil and £477 for every child in secondary school.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has calculated a drop of 6.5% in real-term spending on schools over the course of this parliament.

The issue is worse for North East schools where a legacy of underfunding has left schools exposed. Analysis by SCHOOLS NorthEast shows that, on the basis of the current 2016-17 funding levels, our region would benefit from an extra £323m per year if it were funded at London levels, and around £42m if funded at national levels.

Schools in Sunderland and Northumberland would be entitled to over £7m more if funded at national level, and those in County Durham would see almost £60m more cash a year if funded at London level.

Click here to view a regional breakdown.

Middlesbrough is the only Local Authority area in the North East that receives more funding than the national average. However, as the second most deprived area in England (based on the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) score), Middlesbrough schools are proportionally underfunded.

Mike Parker, Director of SCHOOLS NorthEast, said: “The Government has to recognise that if it wants a world class education system it has to fund schools appropriately. The education budget as a whole must increase and the share for the North East has to rebalance the legacy of underfunding in this region.”

Newcastle MP asks NFF question in Parliament, after meeting SCHOOLS NorthEast to discuss funding concerns for the region

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, asked the Schools Minister Nick Gibb whether the Department for Education had made an assessment of the effect of the area cost adjustment on school funding in the North East.

The question followed a meeting between the MP and SCHOOLS NorthEast during which the growing concerns around the new National Funding Formula, and the Area Cost Adjustment in particular, were raised.

The Schools Minister replied:

Our proposals for a national funding formula include an area cost adjustment to reflect the different labour market costs across the country. Schools in the North East would not receive an uplift through the area cost adjustment, as it is only applied to areas where labour market costs are particularly high. Our proposed national funding formula would increase funding for 622 schools in the North East, with funding for schools in the region as a whole increasing by 1%.

The consultation on the national funding formula will conclude on 22 March. We will confirm final arrangements in the summer, and introduce the formula from April 2018.

While the NFF will increase the funding for some schools in the North East, the situation is predicted to worsen across the country, with the IFS forecasting a drop of 6.5% in real-term spending on schools over the course of this parliament. The Area Cost Adjustment will only divert resources from schools in disadvantaged areas to affluent boroughs.

SCHOOLS NorthEast has strongly campaigned against the ACA in our response to the first stage of the NFF consultation, and will continue to in our final response by the 22 March deadline.

Strong start for first schools-led commission into pupils’ mental health

Healthy MindED, the first schools-led commission into pupils’ mental health, held its inaugural meeting on Monday.

The Commission agreed its vision, scope and terms of reference, and discussed what kind of evidence they would like to ask for when the call for evidence opens later this year.


Professor Dame Sue Bailey will be co-chairing the Commission with Steffi Ellison, Head Girl at High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool.

They are joined by:
Kate Chisholm, Head Teacher at Skerne Park Academy;
Hilary Ellam, Senior Manager at the National College of Teaching and Learning;
Dr Lynne Howey, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust and Children and Young People’s Mental Health Clinical Lead at Northern England Strategic Clinical Networks;
Colin Lofthouse, Head Teacher at Rickleton Primary School;
Dr Peter Mulholland, Senior Educational Psychologist and Team Manager for the Emotional Wellbeing and Effective Learning Service at Durham County Council;
Maura Regan, CEO of Carmel Education Trust;
Sue Fisher, Executive Head Teacher of Teaching School at Percy Hedley School;
Steve Wilkinson, Executive Head Teacher at Monkwearmouth Academy.

Continue reading “Strong start for first schools-led commission into pupils’ mental health”

SCHOOLS NorthEast submits evidence to the inquiry into children and young people’s mental health – role of education

The House of Commons Health Committee opened an inquiry into the role of education regarding children and young people’s mental health.

On behalf of schools and Head Teachers in the region, SCHOOLS NorthEast submitted evidence to the inquiry, explaining how the newly launched mental health commission Healthy MindED will help schools address these issues.

Below is the executive summary to the submission, but you can read the whole document here.

Continue reading “SCHOOLS NorthEast submits evidence to the inquiry into children and young people’s mental health – role of education”

Region’s school-led mental health commission announces members

  • Eleven education and health services heavyweights, from the region and beyond, join the Healthy MindED Commission as it sits for the first time on Monday 23 January

healthy-minded-logo-newThe North East’s first school-led commission into the mental health of pupils brings together a representative group of school leaders along with influential practitioners working within and alongside the education system to consider how best to tackle growing problems with children’s emotional wellbeing.

It was created and co-ordinated by SCHOOLS NorthEast as a response to growing concerns from school leaders in the North East at the lack of expert knowledge schools can easily access to efficiently deal with their pupils’ issues related to mental health.

Professor Dame Sue Bailey will be co-chairing the Commission with Steffi Ellison, Head Girl at High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool.

Continue reading “Region’s school-led mental health commission announces members”

More than 200 to attend Regional Governance Conference

The vital role of school governors in the North East is once again illustrated, as more than 200 delegates sign up to attend the SCHOOLS NorthEast Regional Governance Conference, aimed at supporting governors from state-maintained schools and academies in carrying out their duties confidently.

The event is also aimed at senior leaders who want to ensure they have a high performing governing board and those looking to recruit new governors. It will take place on Thursday 30 March at the Durham County Cricket Club in Chester-le-Street.

Places are still available but going quickly, so if you would like to attend please email info@schoolsnortheast.com

Governing boards are key to the effectiveness of schools and of fundamental importance in helping to drive up standards. With the considerable transformation of the education landscape and the changes to school structures, assessment, curriculum and statutory testing, it is now more important than ever for governors to be up to date on the latest policies and procedures.

Topics on the day will include:

Ofsted and compliance: what is expected of governing boards and how to make sure you are inspection ready.
This will include feedback from schools that have recently been inspected.

• Selection and recruitment of governors: What makes a good governor and how can schools attract the right people.

• The changing education landscape: Helping governors and school leaders horizon scan the changes to come.
PLEASE NOTE: This will include changes planned in the National Funding Formula and how schools will have to cope on ever tightening budgets as outlined in the recent National Audit Office report.

• The future economy: the Government is focusing on the destination outcomes for young people.
What will be the jobs of the future in the North East and how can schools raise pupil aspirations? What is the role of good governance in supporting school/business engagement.

Pushing for excellence: best practice in governance.
How can leaders and Chairs work more effectively together; the importance of external support, training and development for governors.

For more information please click here.

School-led commission into the mental health of pupils in the North East sees official launch


The country’s first schools-led commission on pupil mental health, Healthy MindED, will sit for the first time on Monday 23 January.

Healthy MindED, created and co-ordinated by SCHOOLS NorthEast, will bring together a representative group of school leaders along with influential practitioners working within and alongside the education system to consider how best to tackle growing problems with children’s emotional wellbeing.

SCHOOLS NorthEast is keen to hear from as many schools as possible about the issues they face around mental health, so that we can understand the scale of the problem and what schools have found effective in dealing with it.

The Commission will hold open sessions during which will gather evidence from schools as well as regional and national organisations. The sessions will be open for those interested to attend and will also be streamed and recorded for those who are unable to be there in person. The first of these is scheduled to take place on 3 March.

The Commission will also be supported by two sub-regional advisory boards and we will soon be looking for members for these boards – details of what will be expected from members and how to apply will be released shortly.

SCHOOLS NorthEast will be holding a conference on mental health in schools – linked to the work of the Commission – in early June.

Dame Sue Bailey was formally announced as Chair of the Commission at the SCHOOLS NorthEast Annual Summit in October 2016.

Commenting on the announcement, Dame Sue said: “The time has come for us all to take action and improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing and prevent mental health problems developing.

“The strength of SCHOOLS NorthEast is that it represents such a large community of schools who are not only committed to academic excellence, but as importantly to the emotional wellbeing of their pupils. At a time when schools are potentially becoming more atomised and policy more fragmented, this group of schools has decided to share good practice, learn from collective successes (and mistakes) in order to improve the lives of children and young people in the North East.

“That is why the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition are delighted to be working with SCHOOLS NorthEast.  I personally feel privileged to be asked to chair the Commission.

School leaders in the North East should join forces to lobby for better funding

Schools across the region are being urged to fight for a greater share of education funding as the Government consults on the final shape of the new National Funding Formula (NFF).

Indicative data published by the Department for Education in December showed that while  the majority of schools in the region (6 in 10) would see a slight increase in funding under the NFF, the North East remains woefully underfunded in comparison with other parts of England.

SCHOOLS NorthEast has lobbied hard on behalf of the region to secure a formula that is truly fair. This has seen questions asked in the House of Commons on several occasions.

More recently, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb MP was challenged over plans to include an Area Cost Adjustment which will see schools in more affluent areas gifted more money.

Political heavyweight Andrew Neil referenced SCHOOLS NorthEast on the BBC Daily Politics show – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0863xpc/daily-politics-15122016 (22m 06s) – quoting Director Mike Parker’s view that the Government “is doggedly pursing plans to include an Area Cost Adjustment which will divert vital resources from schools in disadvantaged areas to affluent boroughs”.

The SCHOOLS NorthEast reaction to the publication of the potential impact of the NFF in its current form can be found here.


What can you do?

The Government is currently consulting on the latest version of the formula. To have an impact, we need every school in the North East to make their voices heard.

You can do this by:

  1. Responding directly to the consultation here
  2. Writing to your local MP
  3. Writing to the Education Select Committee

If all school leaders make a joint effort in raising concerns of serious underfunding to the Government it will add to the representative work SCHOOLS NorthEast is doing on your behalf.

By way of background information, here is our response to the initial consultation.

Understanding the Area Cost Adjustment (ACA)?

You might wonder what the fuss is regarding the ACA.

The Government says it is important to give schools in more expensive areas additional funding as it is harder to recruit staff in areas of higher cost. The ACA is a multiplier effect on the amount schools receive for each pupil in those areas.

For each of the 12 North East LAs, there is no multiplier effect. Elsewhere in the country, some regions are seeing significant benefits as a result. In the South East, schools are benefiting by 2.06% from the new funding formula. The South West will receive 1.96% more and the East of England 1.29%. The North East will see funding rise by 1% overall, however we currently would need to receive £45m additional funding annually to receive the national average funding and £360m to receive London-level funding.

As such, the National Funding Formula will do little to close the gap and address the long-term underfunding of schools in our region.

Our analysis of government projections based on the proposed funding formula shows that 39.66% schools in the North East would see their budgets decrease, with numbers peaking in LA areas such as Hartlepool (85.71%).

Below are two charts of the biggest winners and losers in the North East, if the National Funding Formula is implemented in its current form:


Largest school budget decreases in the region under the proposed formula:

School Decrease
1. Trinity Catholic College, Middlesbrough 3.0%
=2. Acklam Grange School, Middlesbrough 2.9%
=2. Carmel College, Darlington 2.9%
=2. Churchill Community College, North Tyneside 2.9%
=2. George Stephenson High School, North Tyneside 2.9%
=2. Hummersknott Academy, Darlington 2.9%
=2. Huntcliff School, Redcar and Cleveland 2.9%
=2. Hurworth School, Darlington 2.9%
=2. John Spence Community High School, North Tyneside 2.9%
=2. Kings Priory School, North Tyneside 2.9%
=2. Longbenton High School, North Tyneside 2.9%
=2. Macmillan Academy, Middlesbrough 2.9%
=2. Marden High School, North Tyneside 2.9%
=2. Seaham High School, County Durham 2.9%
=2. St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy, Sunderland 2.9%
=2. St Robert of Newminster Roman Catholic School, Sunderland 2.9%
=2. St Thomas More Roman Catholic Academy, North Tyneside 2.9%
=2. The King’s Academy, Middlesbrough 2.9%
=2. Thornaby Academy, Stockton-on-Tees 2.9%
=2. Whitley Bay High School, North Tyneside 2.9%

Largest school budget increases in the region under the proposed formula:

School Increase
1. Greenhead Church of England Primary School, Northumberland 13.7%
2. Waverley Primary School, Newcastle 11.8%
=3. Sherburn Primary School, County Durham 11.4%
=3. St John Vianney RC Primary School, Newcastle 11.4%
5. Timothy Hackworth Primary School, County Durham 10.9%
=6. Branton Community First School, Northumberland 10.8%
=6. Netherton Northside First School, Northumberland 10.8%
=6. Stephenson Way Academy and Nursery School, County Durham 10.8%
9. Leadgate Primary School, County Durham 10.7%
10. Harton Primary School, South Tyneside 10.5%


Impact on RI/Inadequate schools?

On the face of it, the new formula will see the more funding going to schools in the Ofsted Requires Improvement and Inadequate grades. On the face of it, this is positive as it may enable struggling schools to have some additional resources to effect change.

However, the chart below shows that this is largely beneficial at primary level where the vast majority of schools are in the Good or Outstanding categories.

Closer inspection of the data shows that, virtually across the board, there is a net reduction in funding to secondary schools – a phase of eduction that both the Government and Ofsted have repeatedly said needs to improve. These figures do not take into account the National Audit Office’s predictions that schools nationally face a £3bn cut in resources over the coming years.

Impact of funding formula changes in the region by Ofsted rating: