Education Links w/c 11th February 2019 – Chronicle Live, Council bosses ‘quietly optimistic’ over future of Haydon Bridge High School. – Chronicle Live, Hexham and Seaton Delaval are both set to get new school buildings. – Chronicle Live, Multi-million pound plans unveiled to expand three Northumberland schools. – Chronicle Live, Fire service ‘gambling with children’s safety’ by not responding immediately to school alarms. – Chronicle Live, Education bosses criticised over exclusions and expulsion figures in Sunderland secondary schools. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Middleton St George school among England’s top three per cent. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Northallerton school blows trumpet. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Pupils learn about world of work at Teesside Park. – The Northern Echo, Darlington College students develop internet safety games. – The Northern Echo, Young pupils in North Yorkshire collect 20kg of old pens for recycling. – Shields Gazette, Check out the incredible scenes from the Knitted Bible on display at a South Tyneside school. – Shields Gazette, ‘Snowflake generation is now complete!’: 20 things you said about bid to start school at 10am. – Berwick Advertiser, Scones selling like hot cakes at The Grove. – Berwick Advertiser, Rascals day nursery is ‘outstanding’.


New Redcar early years reading initiative launches

The National Literacy Trust’s Read North East campaign has partnered with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Public Health South Tees to launch an Early Years Partnership in the town.

The Redcar Early Years Partnership will bring the National Literacy Trust’s flagship early years programme, Early Words Together, to 20 settings across Redcar and Cleveland, with the aim of reaching more than 400 families over the next two years. The project will also incorporate other Read North East campaign activity, such as book giveaways, to improve the literacy outcomes of preschool children.

Early Words Together trains early years staff and volunteers to work with parents and children aged three to five, building parents’ confidence so that they can support their children’s communication, language and literacy skills at home. Research shows that parents and the home learning environment (HLE) play a crucial role in tackling the early word gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, supporting early literacy skills and helping children to fulfil their potential.

The campaign will launch on Thursday 7 February with a storytelling event for selected early years settings, staff and parents. Children will be treated to storytelling sessions and each child will take home a free book.

Read North East is a creative campaign from the North East Literacy Forum, led by the National Literacy Trust and supported by Penguin Random House UK, the Education Endowment Foundation and Greggs PLC. Established in 2017, the campaign’s key focus is encouraging parents of early years children to change their literacy behaviours.

The Redcar Early Years partnership launch will be an opportunity to pilot new campaign leaflets and posters featuring illustrations of Spot the Dog from the popular children’s books by Eric Hill. Thanks to the support of Penguin Random House, the loveable canine character has become the face of the campaign to encourage families in Redcar to chat, sing and read with their children. Free Spot the Dog books will be given away at the event

James Kingett, Manager of the Read North East campaign, said:“We’re delighted to bring our Read North East campaign to the youngest residents of the town as part of the Redcar Early Years Partnership. Our new specific tag line ‘Chat, sing, read’ – 3 simple ways to make your child happy and help them learn – was drafted very much with our target audience in mind.

“We want to make developing children’s literacy skills as easy as possible for parents and, crucially, we want them to know why it is important. We hope that by receiving their new Spot the Dog books, Redcar families will be inspired to share stories together at home.”

Councillor Craig Hannaway, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, said: “We welcome any scheme that brings families together and develops a shared love of books.

“Reading is an essential part of life and the best way to encourage children is to create a sense of joy in reading, rather than seeing it as a chore. I’m sure Early Words Together will be a great success and children will enjoy sharing the antics of Spot the Dog and other much-loved characters with their parents.

“As Lemony Snicket said, “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
To find out more about the Read North East Early Years Partnership, visit

Landmark judicial review hands schools more power to challenge council SEND placements

Schools are in a stronger position to push back against councils that order them to take a pupil whose special educational needs they are unable to meet following a landmark judicial review.

The High Court has today ruled that Medway Council acted unlawfully when it changed the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) of an autistic pupil so that a nearby mainstream primary school, which cannot be named for legal reasons, would have to admit him.

The school claimed the council “eviscerated” details from the boy’s EHCP,  including the need for a sensory room, after the school stated it was “unsuitable” for the placement.

Judge Philip Mott QC said Medway had “no proper basis for explaining and justifying its decision”.

The ruling said the deletions were “considerate and deliberate”, adding: “I am bound to conclude that Medway’s removal of so much, without any change in the evidence, was irrational and unlawful.”

You can read the full story here.

Department for Education launches mental health trials in schools

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced that up to 370 schools in England will be taking part in a series of trials testing different approaches to supporting young people’s mental health.

Led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in partnership with University College London, the school study is now in its second wave and recruiting more primary and secondary schools to join.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Schools and teachers don’t have all the answers, nor could they, but we know they can play a special role which is why we have launched one of the biggest mental health trials in schools. These trials are key to improving our understanding of how practical, simple advice can help young people cope with the pressures they face.”

The trials will include  mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help children regulate their emotions, alongside pupil sessions with mental health experts. The study will run until 2021 and aims to give schools new, robust evidence about what works best for their students’ mental health and wellbeing.

Mr Hinds also confirmed the nine areas across the country that will trial new high-quality mental health assessments for young people entering care, helping them get the support they need to meet their individual needs at a time when they are more vulnerable.

Schools North East has been a longstanding advocate of improving mental health and wellbeing in schools, having launched the UK’s first schools-led mental health commission, Healthy MindED, in 2016.

You can read more on this story here.

Healthy MindED 2019: Bookings are now open for the Healthy MindED Conference 2019 taking place in Durham in May. To find out more about the event and to book your place. click here

Government responds to Gateshead Heads’ petition on funding

The Government has responded to the funding petition launched in the Autumn Term by the Gateshead Heads’ Forum.

The campaign, which was spearheaded by Andrew Ramanandi, Head Teacher of St Joseph’s Catholic School in Blaydon, has so far gained 62,960 signatures, and earlier this week the Government gave the following response:

We recognise schools are facing budgeting challenges and we are asking them to do more. We have increased funding by an extra £1.3bn across this year and next, over and above previous spending plans.

While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. The total core schools and high needs budget will rise from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn by 2019-20.

Figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that in 2020, per pupil funding for five to sixteen year olds, adjusted for inflation, will be 50% higher than in 2000, and 70% higher than in 1990. We can also compare ourselves favourably to other countries – we spend as much per pupil on state school education as any major economy in the world, with the single exception of the United States of America.

We are also distributing that funding more fairly, through the national funding formula which directs money to where it is most needed, based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics – not accidents of geography or past arrangements. Since 2017, the national funding formula has allocated every local authority more money for every pupil in every school, while allocating the largest increases to the schools that have been most underfunded.

We recently confirmed funding allocations for local authorities through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2019-20. More information on the DSG and a detailed breakdown of funding allocations for each local authority is available here:

We also announced that we will provide £250m additional funding for high needs over this financial year and the next. This brings the total allocated for high needs, within the overall core schools budget, to £6.1 billion in 2018-19 and £6.3 billion in 2019-20. We recognise that the high needs budget faces significant pressures and this additional expenditure will help to manage those pressures.

Spending plans beyond 2019-20 will be set at the next Spending Review and naturally we cannot pre-empt these decisions – but we are of course committed to securing the right deal for education.

Despite all of this, we do recognise that budgets remain tight. That is why we are supporting schools and head teachers to make the most of their budgets and reduce costs on things like energy, water bills and materials.

Department for Education

Commenting on the Government’s response, Mr Ramanandi said: “The concern has always been that schools are not funded sufficiently currently, and this response acknowledges that ‘budgets are tight’. Schools are already working collaboratively to make efficiency savings. The scale of projected savings that schools will need to make to avoid deficit budgets go well beyond savings that could be made ‘on things like energy, water bills and materials.

“The petition was set up to empower the DfE to pressure the Treasury to fund schools adequately ahead of the spending review. The response states that the DfE are ‘committed to securing the right deal for education’ and this shows the positive impact the petition has had.

“I hope that the ever-increasing number of signatories on our petition will support the DfE in securing sufficient and adequate funding for our schools.

“If you are a Head Teacher and this strikes a chord, then please sign our petition and consider encouraging the parents of your pupils to sign it too.

“If you are a Teacher or a Teaching Assistant and you are concerned about what you and your school are able to provide, then please sign our petition and ask your friends and family to sign as well.

“If you are a Governor being asked to make untenable decisions, then please sign our petition and support your Head Teacher in sharing this message.

“If you are a parent, grandparent, aunty or uncle and are concerned about the impact on the quality of education afforded to the children in your family, then please sign our petition to protect their future.

“If you feel that Government should fund schools sufficiently and fairly, and want to have your voice heard, then please add your name to our petition ‘Increase Funding for Schools’.

“If you feel that Government should fund schools sufficiently and fairly, and have already added your name to our petition, please amplify your voice by encouraging your family and friends to do so too.”

Home Office delayed free school meals eligibility checks

The Home Office prioritised checks on pupils’ immigration status over helping schools to identify migrant children in need of free school meals, an independent review has found.

A report by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, into data-sharing between government departments found communications problems between the Department for Education and Home Office led to “delays and uncertainty” in the free school meals eligibility checking process.

The review sheds more light on the involvement of the Department for Education in attempts to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, and comes after campaigners successfully challenged the Department over its divisive collection of pupil nationality and country of birth data by schools.

Bolt’s report reveals that although the Home Office was “ready to invest in making the relationship work” when it was the main beneficiary of data-sharing deals, collaboration between the two departments did not work “as effectively” when it was schools that stood to benefit.

Read the full article in Schools Week.

Education Links w/c 4th February 2019 – Chronicle Live, Blyth Primary School given green light for an extension due to growing number of pupils. – Chronicle Live, Ofsted results for North East schools: How do inspectors say they are performing? tests waste of time for teachers, MSPs told. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Mental health trials launched in schools.  – The Northern Echo, Meet the man inspired to turn struggling schools around. – The Northern Echo, Rotary awards honour Darlington’s outstanding young people. – The Northern Echo, GCSE resits success under Darlington College’s pilot scheme. – The Northern Echo, Durham University’s £5m boost to train scientists of the future. – Shields Gazette, School to become first to open elite football academy for girls. – Berwick Advertiser, Art Award success for two local schools. – Berwick Advertiser, Berwick nursery helped by police fund. – Northumberland Gazette, £37m earmarked for new buildings on one site for two Northumberland schools.

Heads can report Ofsted inspectors on new workload hotline

Ofsted is to launch a new hotline for Head Teachers to report inspectors who unnecessarily add to their school’s workload.

The new service will allow schools to flag up if and when the inspectorate fails to meet its commitments to ensure that it does not contribute to increased workload.

The plans have been revealed in the government’s new Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, published this week.

It says that Ofsted has committed to tackling teacher workload through its new inspection framework by:

  • Checking whether workload is unnecessarily high as part of its leadership and management judgement;
  • Looking unfavourably on schools that use burdensome data collection;
  • No longer looking at internal school data as part of its new inspections.

You can read the full article on Tes.

Department for Education launches price comparison site for schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced it is to launch a new website to help schools cut energy bills.

The DfE says that the site will allow schools to get instant quotes from a range of gas and electricity firms, similar to price comparison websites available for household energy.

The latest figures from 2016/17 show state-funded schools in England spent more than £584 million on gas and electricity, with the average secondary school spending around £90,000 a year on energy. The Department hopes that the comparison site will help schools save on spending.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Many households shop around for the best deal on their gas and electricity – and I want to help schools do the same.

“By saving money on their energy bills and avoiding high broker fees, the more money schools will have to spend on what really matters – getting the best teachers into classrooms and giving their pupils a great education.

“This website is the latest step in our efforts to help schools reduce unnecessary costs, building on the School Resource Management Strategy I launched last year to provide practical advice and support.”

The website, developed with the Crown Commercial Service, is launching with a limited number of energy suppliers initially, but it is reported that more will be added over time.

Department for Education says teachers’ pay should be capped at 2%

The Secretary of State for Education has signalled that pay for teachers in England should be capped at 2% next year.

Damian Hinds, in evidence to the independent School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), said that 2% would be in line with projected inflation and affordable within schools budgets, set to rise 2.5% next year.

The joint teaching unions have told the STRB they want 5% across the board, and the body must consider all the evidence it receives before making recommendations to the Government in May.

National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) General Secretary Paul Whiteman said a pay rise of 5% was “vital if we are to plug the leaky pipeline of teacher recruitment and retention in England”.

He said: “Following years of caps damaging to public sector pay, it is disgraceful for the Government to impose another one, this time of 2%.”

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) General Secretary Geoff Barton said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Government has said a 2% increase was affordable from school budgets when this was absolutely not the case.

“School funding per pupil has fallen by 8% in real terms over the past eight years, including cuts of more than 20% to school sixth-form funding.

“To say that schools can now afford yet another unfunded cost pressure not only adds insult to injury but places educational standards at risk.”

You can read more on the story here.