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 – Chronicle Live, Durham councillors to use reserves to help fund gap in finances for special educational needs. – Chronicle Live, New project to improve education brings Sunderland children’s services boss on board. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Teachers’ leaders say Scottish budget ‘deeply disappointing’ on education. – Darlington and Stockton Times, Darlington students given space to flourish at college. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Federation plans are on schools’ curriculum in Whitby. – The Northern Echo, Yarm school head: Schools should not abandon nativity plays due to political correctness. – The Northern Echo, Pupils hit the right note for hospice. – Hartlepool Mail, This Hartlepool primary school received a thumbs up from Ofsted inspectors. – Hartlepool Mail, Young athletes in Hartlepool to get double the chance to reach their full potential. – Hartlepool Mail, Rudolph visits Hartlepool to make Christmas dreams come true. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school pupils hailed after reaching finals of tag rugby competition. – Shields Gazette, Heating problems send pupils home from South Shields primary school. – Shields Gazette, South Tyneside school cooks whip up recipe for success.‘Picture of improvement’ in recent years for Northumberland skills service.

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.

Education Links w/c 3rd December 2018 – Chronicle Live, High exclusion rates and a drop in performance: How North East schools shape up according to Ofsted. – Chronicle Live, How good are schools where you live? Ofsted reveals North East’s best performing areas. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Call to end ‘stupid’ parking at Darlington schools. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Creative students help drive home the road safety message in Darlington.  – The Northern Echo, Ofsted publish performance rankings for schools in the region. – The Northern Echo, Darlington breakfast club fuelling pupils through school day. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool secondary school development wins praise from construction body. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school nativity play in line for national TV broadcast after pupils make final of Virgin competition. – Shields Gazette, Two thirds of schools in South Tyneside rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ according new figures. – Shields Gazette, Anger after thieves strip taps and piping from South Shields primary school. – Shields Gazette, South Tyneside College in two-day shutdown due to major gas fault. event is valuable for Academy pupils. – Northumberland Gazette, School serves up excellence on a plate.  

Kenton School’s Behaviour Policy receives national attention

A secondary school in Newcastle has this week received national attention for including litter picking in its Behaviour Policy review.

Kenton School, which has over 2000 pupils, was featured in the media earlier in the week for it’s alternative punishments which included community work.

Speaking to School North East, Sarah Holmes-Carne, Principal at Kenton School, said: “This is nothing unusual – we are reviewing our Behaviour Policy as key staff have changed. This review is just formalising what we have done.

“Punishments are quite futile – sitting in a detention isn’t constructive when children could be giving back to the school community. Pupils can earn their detention time back unless they wanted to choose the litter picking option.”

Speaking about how litter picking can develop life and personal skills, Ms Holmes-Carne said: “It’s not to humiliate but to get children to think about being part of the community. Giving thought and giving back.

“We don’t implement any policies until we consult with pupils, parents and teachers. At Kenton we encourage parents to come in and give their views. This policy has been overwhelmingly positive in the feedback.

“The aim is to help children build relationships and be co-operative rather than compliant. We want to work with the students to help them become part of the community.”

You can read media coverage in The Evening Chronicle, The Mirror and the Telegraph.


Conflict resolution programme improves wellbeing of pupils

Schools can significantly reduce the impact of bullying and improve pupils’ wellbeing by using a specialised system of conflict resolution and training, according to a ground-breaking study published in the Lancet.

The research, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London, was conducted over three years in state schools in the south of England, and is the first of its type to study the use of “restorative practice” within schools, bringing together victims and perpetrators of damaging behaviour.

The academics who wrote the Lancet study, including Professor Russell Viner, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, concluded that the £58 cost per pupil to run the programme was likely to achieve “significant impacts” in improving child health and mental wellbeing.

Professor Russell Viner said: “The message from this is that how we organise our schools to promote students’ welfare should be a key part of any response to concerns about children’s mental health.

“None of this was meant to be just about bullying – it was about informing and involving pupils in their school’s behaviour policies, and the use of restorative practices to resolve difficult behaviour.”

You can read more on this study in the Guardian.

Education Links w/c 26th November 2018 – Chronicle Live, Amble school still requires improvement but is heading in the right direction, says Ofsted. – Chronicle Live, Exam pressure is making ten-year-old pupils ‘throw up’ before going into school. launch new education venture in Tees Valley – and beyond. – Darlington & Stockton Times, New school support staff statistics could risk ‘generalising’ roles. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Ripon schools merger and Bedale special school satellite scheme heralded. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Schools struggle to hire staff as thousands of teaching jobs re-advertised. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Children could practice drills for classroom terror attacks. – The Northern Echo, Alternative education overhaul in North Yorkshire defended. – The Northern Echo, ‘A black day’ as 360-year-old Arkengarthdale school looks set to close. – Hartlepool Mail, War Horse brought to life by pupils at Hartlepool secondary school. – Hartlepool Mail, Miles for Men wins a cash boost from Hartlepool school pupils. – Hartlepool Mail, Praise for rise in apprenticeship opportunities in Hartlepool ‘bucking national trend’. – Shields Gazette, Police probe continues after pupil takes unknown substance at a South Shields School. – Shields Gazette, Youngsters at a South Shields primary school celebrate prestigious sporting award. – Northumberland Gazette, Libraries ready to launch Christmas reading challenge.