Hundreds of delegates join SCHOOLS NorthEast for its biggest-ever SBM conference

Over 300 delegates joined SCHOOLS NorthEast for its sixth-annual School Business Management conference in Newcastle yesterday, making it the biggest and best to date.

The conference, which took place at St James’ Park, brought together school business leaders from across the region as well as over 65 exhibitors at one of SCHOOLS NorthEast’s biggest yearly events.

The theme of the conference this year was ‘Going for Gold’, inspired by the motivational speaker, Olympian Sally Gunnell OBE.

Sally spoke to delegates about how you can ‘make your best even better’, and to push yourself even further in both your personal and professional life.

She said: “All of my experiences have taught me how to deal with successes and failures. They have taught me how to overcome pressures when I thought I would crumble.”


The Olympian told the story of her journey to her famous, and gold-winning, race at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 and how everything that happened before then set her mind to achieving her ultimate goal.

She said: “These experiences happen for a reason – you have to learn to move on and put it behind you. Those who have the strongest and most positive mindsets are the ones that succeed.

“Don’t ever give up on that goal.”

The day also comprised of 16 sessions focused on People Management, Development, Finance and Information Security, with speakers including Val Andrew, Business Leadership Specialist from ASCL, Julie Cordiner, Education Funding Specialist from School Financial Success and Tim Care, Partner at Ward Hadaway.

Leora Cruddas, CEO of FASNA, provided a key note in the afternoon, focused on the need for more collaboration between schools.

She said: “Strong and sustainable collaboration of schools is the future of education – the world is watching England’s changing school system.”

Ms Cruddas was also keen to put forward her thoughts on leaders taking more ownership, as well as being aware of their moral compass.

She said: “We should be putting ethics and morals at the heart of leadership – we should all face this new world with optimism, energy and courage.”

To find out more about the day, and to join the conversation, follow the #SBM18 hashtag on Twitter.


More white working-class schools are ‘inadequate’

Schools in poor white communities are much more likely to be rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” by Ofsted compared with those in deprived, non-white British areas.

While nearly half (47%) of the most deprived secondary schools with a “high percentage” of white British pupils are rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement”, the proportion is just 18% for similarly deprived schools where most pupils are non-white British.

According to the Ofsted analysis, there are significant differences in inspection results between schools based on their ethnic make-up.

The latest Ofsted data on schools’ overall effectiveness, which goes up to 30th April 2018, shows that of schools with a high non-white British pupil population, 29% in the most deprived quintile were rated “outstanding”.

Read the full story and see the analysis here.

Changes to the Academies Accounts Direction for 2017/18

The following changes have been made to the Academies Accounts Direction for 2017/18:

Key changes that apply immediately

These requirements relate to the accounting period ending 31 August 2018:

  • Where a trust pays for goods or services from a related party (a company linked to a member or trustee) it must confirm that “any element above £2,500 is provided at no more than cost”. This has likely come in response to recent issues highlighted in the media.
  • Alcohol and excessive gifts will now be classed as “irregular expenditure” and viewed as not using public money “for the purpose it was intended”. The  Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) has in the past highlighted alcohol purchases in its investigations, suggesting the practice was frowned upon, but this is the first time clear guidance has been issued.
  • Financial statements will require information on trade union facility time to comply with the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017. This will only apply where a trust has more than 49 full time equivalent employees throughout any 7 months of the reporting period.
  • There must also be a section dedicated to fundraising practices undertaken by the trust to enable compliance with the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016. The Charity Commission’s document “Charity Fundraising: a guide to trustee duties” provides additional guidance on content for this section.

Key changes going forward

As reported elsewhere in this newsletter the Education Secretary recently made a speech announcing several additional requirements for academy trusts. These measures are not included as requirements in the Academies Accounts Direction 2017/18 document:

  • From April 2019 all related-party transactions must be reported to the EFSA and their approval must be sought for any transaction over £20,000.
  • Accounts must give details of any staff earning over £100,000, along with the percentage of teaching time undertaken by these staff.

Department for Education names high-paying academy trusts

The Department for Education has published the names of 160 academy trusts it has written to, questioning why they are paying six-figure salaries.

Eileen Milner, chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), has written a series of letters to the chairs of MATs and single academies trusts asking for their rationale for paying these high wages.

Letters were sent out at the end of last year to single academy trusts paying more than £150,000.

This has been followed this year with letters to MATs paying more than £150,000 and all trusts paying two or more people a salary of between £100,000 and £150,000.

Now the DfE has published a full list of those trusts which received letters.

The ESFA sent out 29 letters to single academy trusts and 88 to MATs paying more than £150,000. It has also written to 43 trusts which have two or more employees earning more than £100,000.

Of the 29 single academy trusts paying more than £150,000, 13 were said to be at risk of financial difficulty.

To see the full list of of those academies that received letters and for the full story, click here.

Skills Minister and businesses defend apprenticeship levy

Business leaders and apprenticeship providers have joined Skills Minister Anne Milton and Institute for Apprenticeships chief executive Sir Gerry Berragan in defending the apprenticeship levy.

In an open letter published this morning, the 51 signatories, who include Mark Stewart, general manager and HR director at Airbus; Mike Thompson, head of apprenticeships at Barclays; and Paul Devoy, chief executive of Investors in People, say they have “all seen first-hand that apprenticeships can change the lives of apprentices – and the businesses they work with – for the better”. They add that they believe that the apprenticeship levy gives employers a real opportunity to invest in training, bringing the well-recognised enthusiasm and new ideas of apprentices to their business.

They add that higher and advanced level apprenticeships are “a passport into a range of exciting industries, including nuclear, food science, law, engineering, professional services, construction and digital technology”.

Read the full article in the Tes.

Damian Hinds announces doubling of funding for governor training

Education Secretary Damian Hinds spoke at the National Governance Association conference on Saturday. Here we take a look at the key announcements in his speech.

  • More funding for governors – Funding for governor and trustee training will be doubled, reaching £6m. He also promised that improved guidance will be developed for governors, trustees and clerks.

Mr Hinds was clear that he would take action where an academy trust is providing weak governance and suggested governance and financial management were not yet subjected to the same scrutiny as other aspects of trust leadership and development.

  • Broader range of governors – He also said he wanted to see a broader range of people becoming school governors, particularly young people and those from minority ethnic backgrounds. To support more people going into governance he spoke of appealing to employers to encourage staff to become governors and give them the time to do so.
  • Leaders’ remuneration – The Secretary of State said he wants trusts to “bear down” on excessive salaries for Head Teachers and CEOs. He said pay rises for non-teaching management should not exceed those given to teachers. However, no substantive measures to enforce this were announced. Academy accounts will be required to detail salaries of £100k+ and the Department will “publicly challenge” salaries deemed too high. Mr Hinds said he will also want to see the percentage of teaching time undertaken by anyone paid over this amount.
  • Related party transactions – From next April trusts will need to seek ESFA approval for any related-party transaction, which is when an academy trust pays for goods or services from a company linked to a member or trustee or their family. It will apply to transactions over £20,000, though those under £20,000 will still be declared.
  • Assessing trust performance – Mr Hinds spoke of the need for a new system to assess which MATs are failing the schools they have taken on and which MATs should take on new schools. He acknowledged that the current system of performance tables, inspections, financial data and RSC oversight had its limits.

Education Links w/c 11th June 2018 – Chronicle Live, Newcastle pupils become digital detectives in fight against ‘fake news’. – Chronicle Live, Tensions ‘threatening to boil over’ as parents and neighbours clash over school parking. – Chronicle Live, Under fire Durham University brings in officer to ‘link’ institute and community. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Richmond students prove they can figure things out. –  Hartlepool Mail, Fun on the water for Hartlepool children with lesson from 1851 trust. – Hartlepool Mail, Winner announced in Hartlepool Mail Nursery of the Year 2018. – Hartlepool Mail, How much will Hartlepool schools get from sugar tax fund? – Gazette Live, ‘Teesside can’t expect to attract new companies unless our education sector is aligned’. – Gazette Live, Device that lets children who cannot speak communicate stolen in cruel breaks-ins at school. – Gazette Live, Eston Park school to be torn down within weeks after huge fire ripped through buildings. – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland schoolchildren get close up look at new multimillion-pound city transport project. – Sunderland Echo, Former education minister visits Beacon of Light to see new scheme to help young Wearsiders. – Hexham Courant, Safe ransacked at Wark First School. – The Northern Echo, Spennymoor school pupils to perform alongside Durham University students at concert. – The Northern Echo, Fall in GCSE results amid teacher shortages and exam changes. – Shields Gazette, ‘Good’ news all round at primary school after inspector calls. – Shields Gazette, Pupils from a Hebburn primary school help spruce up area’s river banks. – Shields Gazette, Pupils to see their stories in print as part of innovative arts project.

Doubt cast on seminal marshmallow self-control study

Academics have thrown doubt on the conclusions of seminal research that linked preschool children’s self-control to their academic achievement and behaviour in later life.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Stanford University psychologist Walter Mischel examined delayed gratification in preschool children.

He gave them a treat such as a marshmallow, but told them they would receive a bigger treat if they delayed eating it for a short period of time.

Follow up research in 1990 showed that those children who had been able to exercise self-control and wait for the bigger reward had better exam results and socioemotional behaviour when they were teenagers.

The findings led to parents being encouraged to raise their children to exhibit self-control, in the hope of benefits later in life.

Read the full article in the Tes.

More adolescents are reporting anxiety owing to a ‘huge number of exams’, expert says

The enormous pressure pupils face to succeed at school is fuelling a rise in mental health problems among millennials, according to an expert in neuroscience.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, who is professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, was speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

She said that teenagers were having to sit more exams, and they had got tougher compared with when she took them 20 years ago.

“We have become much more grade focused,” she added. “Young people feel so much pressure to perform well in the huge number of exams they have to do.”

Ms Blakemore made her comments as she explained that as stigma around mental health problems declines, more adolescents are admitting to experiencing difficulties.

Another fact that she said could be fuelling anxiety was young people’s concerns about the future, such as job prospects and getting on the housing ladder when they are older.

Read the full article in Tes.

Healthy MindED, the UK’s first and only pupil-led mental health initiative established by SCHOOLS NorthEast, runs ‘Voice of the Pupil’ focus groups with schools across the region. If your school would like to get involved, please contact Christopher Hawkins, Policy Officer (e) (t) 0191 204 8866. 

Discovery School in Newcastle to close

The Discovery School in Newcastle is set to close after four years of opening.

Newcastle Council confirmed the Discovery School in Newcastle would close after the government pulled the plug on its funding when it failed an Ofsted inspection.

Earlier this month the school was accepting pupils on to its register for September and parents were only told on Tuesday it would shut on 31 August.

A spokesman said the closure would “be for the best” in the long term.

The school, which opened in 2014 and teaches a specialist science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) curriculum, had been funded directly from the government.

It has the capacity for 700 students but only has 218 on its roll.

The statement from the Discovery School reads:

‘Pupils, parents and staff have been informed of the decision and the school is working with the Department for Education, Newcastle City Council and other local authorities to ensure pupils are offered alternative places at other schools before the start of the new term.

The decision has been taken based on well-documented issues at the school including safeguarding problems, poor teaching and leadership and the results of a recent Ofsted which is expected to deem the school inadequate.

As a result Discovery’s funding agreement will be terminated, leaving no alternative but to close the school.

A spokesperson for Discovery said: “We regret this is the outcome but it is clear the school is simply not working for students, parents and staff.

“Our first duty is to the pupils who are entitled to be safe, well and to get the best education they can.

“We realise this will be upsetting for pupils and parents – and for staff who will be made redundant – however we cannot allow the situation to continue and believe that in the long term this will be for the best.

“It is very early days and in the next few weeks there will be a lot of activity to ensure that the process of closure, and finding new schools for pupils is as straight-forward as possible. We will offer full support to those families affected.”

All GCSE students will be able to continue their studies uninterrupted and post-16 examinations will take place as usual this month and next.

Newcastle Connexions Service will be on site at Discovery School to offer support and advice.’

Read more on this story on the BBC.