Education Links w/c 11th March 2019 – Chronicle Live, The North East schools singled out for help in a £24mm Government scheme. – Chronicle Live, Religious nursery accused of ‘reinforcing gender stereotypes’ by segregating boys and girls. – Chronicle Live, This is the knife carried by a 15-year-old girl to Peterlee school leaving parents ‘in fear’. – Chronicle Live, New special free school to open in Northumberland as North East promised 200 new SEND places. – Chronicle Live, North East nursery heads warn schools will be forced to close without more funding. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Number of pupils taught in ‘super-size classes’ increases, report shows. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Special needs help in schools ‘overloaded by cuts’, says Redcar MP Anna Turley. – The Northern Echo, Special needs transport plan hailed ‘success’. – The Northern Echo, Globetrotting Darlington students enjoy trip to Amsterdam. – Shields Gazette, South Shields school closed after wind damages roof in wake of Storm Gareth. – Shields Gazette, Three new schools to open in the North East as part of Government investment into Special Education Needs. – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland schoolkids in fine voice as they scoop City Sings prize. – Berwick Advertiser, Tweedmouth Middle scoops national prize. – Berwick Advertiser, Inspectors praise key strengths at Eyemouth High School. – Berwick Advertiser, School library inspires pupils. – Berwick Advertiser, No sign of funding pressures abating in Northumberland’s children’s services. – Berwick Advertiser, School exclusions in Northumberland falling after worrying spike.


FFT analysis shows growing hole in provision for pupils with EHCPs

Think tank FFT Education Datalab has recently published an analysis of pupils with education, health and care plans (EHCPs) in schools.

Reviewing Department for Education data on SEN provision, Chief Statistician Dave Thomson highlights trends since 2007 showing that children with more complex needs are increasingly attending special schools, rather than secondary schools.

The DfE data illustrates that the percentage of pupils with EHCPs in special schools has increased, while the proportion attending secondary schools has dropped. The percentage of the same category of pupils in primary schools has remained largely constant.

The latest DfE projections for Years 7 to 11 estimate that the state-funded secondary age (11-15) population will grow by 15% (427,000 pupils) between 2018 and 2027. If we assume the same proportion of these will have EHCPs, that’s roughly an extra 15,000 pupils. The underlying data behind the population projections anticipates that special schools will take 9,000 of them. Given that the average special school has 117 pupils, that’s almost 80 schools’ worth.

If mainstream schools are expected to absorb the remaining 6,000 pupils with EHCPs, this will  reverse many years of declining numbers of pupils with statements/EHCPs.

This raises several questions, not least whether mainstream education providers have sufficient resources and expertise to continue catering successfully for pupils with EHCPs, and whether there is adequate funding available to make such provision sustainable.

Read the full article on the FFT Education Datalab website here.

Education Secretary unveils new guidance on launch of compulsory health education

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has set out new plans stating that school pupils of all ages will be taught compulsory health education from September 2020.

Health education classes are to accompany parallel introductions of compulsory relationships education for primary-age pupils and relationships and sex education (RSE) for secondary-age pupils.

Promoting the positive link between mental and physical health and focusing on preparing pupils for the modern world, the intention of the new subjects is to ensure children have relevant knowledge at their fingertips to help them grow up safe, healthy and happy.

The new subjects have been unveiled following feedback from 11,000 charities, teaching unions and subject associations in a three-month consultation process.

The Department for Education has also committed to backing a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health and wellbeing, funding training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges. A £6m budget has been made available in 2019/20 to cover school training and resources ahead of September 2020.

They also follow the announcement from the NHS that mental health support will be made available to over 470,000 children and young people across England from September 2019.

Reactions to the measures have been mixed, with some Twitter users highlighting that the system is the aspect that should change, not the children.

Read the full article on the Government website here.

Scrap ‘pointless’ GCSEs says Education Select Committee Chair

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Education Select Committee Chair Robert Halfon MP has called for GCSEs to be scrapped and A-Levels replaced by a baccalaureate.

He argues that emphasis on a  “knowledge-rich curriculum”, through performance measures like the EBacc, has pressurised teachers to train to the test. This leads to the focus being on rote learning above skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and team-working, Mr Halfon believes.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said:

“GSCEs are the gold standard qualification at age 16 and a passport to further study and employability – they were recently reformed so that their demand matches that in other high-performing countries and better prepare students for work and further study. “We are also taking forward reforms from the Independent Panel on Technical Education to give students a clear choice between an academic or technical path at aged 16. T Levels, alongside apprenticeships, will form the basis of our high-quality technical education offer.”

Commenting on Schools North East’s twitter page, one North East school governor said:

“So when a young person leaves one of our many 11 -16 schools they will have…nothing to show for it? This is half an idea at best”

And one Secondary Head Teacher responded:

“We have just undergone a huge programme of reform in GCSEs and A levels UNDER A CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT. If they don’t want even more teachers to leave the profession, they will leave things alone for a few years.”

MPs to debate Gateshead Heads’ funding petition

Parliamentary time has been allocated for debate on a school funding petition launched by the Gateshead Heads’ Forum. MPs are set to discuss the matter on 4 March at 4:30PM.

The campaign was spearheaded by Andrew Ramanandi, Head Teacher of St Joseph’s Catholic School in Blaydon. In response to the news Mr Ramanandi said:

Head Teachers across Gateshead are pleased that the petition they initiated has resulted in a debate in Parliament. 

At the end of November last year, we sent parents a letter to let them know how the lack of sufficient funding was affecting our schools. We encouraged them to sign an online petition to ask the government to fund schools sufficiently and fairly by increasing school funding. 

They did and the petitions committee listened.

 On Monday 4th March a debate will take place in Westminster Hall, which is the second debating chamber of the House of Commons. Liz Twist MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate. 

This is great news and parental support is greatly appreciated. 

We need the government to hear how damaging the cuts to school funding have been. Schools across Gateshead are making very difficult decisions which will impact on the quality of education they can provide. Staff are being made redundant and vacant posts are not being filled. Many schools are having to cut back resources and reduce specialism in subjects like Music. All of this is bad for children’s education. 

Now that government are listening, we need to stress how important funding schools sufficiently is. Parents can help further. 

We are going to be asking parents to take a little time to contact their MP to let them know how they feel about this matter. If elected officials hear how parents, their constituents feel, then MPs can share parental voice in this important debate.

Parents can check who their MP is by quickly typing your post code on this website.   

If anyone is concerned about the impact of funding on our local schools then we’d urge them to please let their MP know, encourage them to attend the debate and to share their concerns. 

Our children deserve this.”

Schools North East will shortly be launching the #FundOurFuture campaign which will fight on behalf of schools for greater funding.

The campaign aims to mobilise schools, parents and relatives of pupils to take the Government to task over funding shortfalls which have seen an 8% real terms cut in per-pupil funding.

Ministers accused of pressure over teacher recruits 

Teacher training providers have accused the Government of “lowering the bar” on teacher recruitment to beat England’s shortage in the classroom, with Teacher Trainers coming under pressure from officials to “justify” decisions to reject candidates.

Emma Hollis, head of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers, said making it easier to get into teaching was not the answer.

However, the Government said that recruitment requirements had not changed. It stressed that all those who go on to get qualified teacher status must be judged by the provider to have met all the relevant standards by the end of their course.

Statistics show that recruitment targets have been missed for six years in a row and hundreds of Head Teachers say how tough it is to recruit teachers, particularly those in specialist subjects.

Ministers have recently made attempts to get more people into teaching, drawing up a new strategy to help with recruitment and retention.

Ms Hollis said: “We are asked to justify why we are rejecting people. What reasons can you give for rejecting those applicants?”

She added: “There’s a pressure on providers to deal with the problem that we are faced with, by accepting a higher proportion of those we interview, even when experience is absolutely telling us that they might not be right.

“Whilst initial teacher training (ITT) providers are acutely aware of the recruitment pressures facing schools, it is right and proper that they must act as gatekeepers to the profession. Providers have always looked for potential in applicants to teacher training and have never expected ‘oven ready’ candidates.”

You can read the full story here.

Ethical Leadership Commission final report published

A new set of principles to support school leaders, governors and trustees in navigating “the educational moral maze” has been set out in the Ethical Leadership Commission’s final report.

The Commission was launched by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in 2017 and includes senior representatives from across the education sector. It was established because of concerns expressed by ASCL members and others about the lack of guiding principles for ethical leadership in education.

Building on the Nolan Principles of Public Life, it comprises a set of values and virtues, against which to evaluate decisions and actions. It is intended to act as a counterpoint to the official language about measurement of schools and pupils that is commonly used.

The Commission felt this was particularly noteworthy in a school leadership climate where structures are diverse, accountability measures and their consequences are severe, and in which decisions are often taken under great pressure with competing demands in play.

The full report is available here.

North East academy leaders welcome new inspection framework

Ofsted’s draft 2019 Inspection Framework is strongly welcomed by North East academy leaders, according to polling conducted by Schools North East.

Over 220 delegates attended yesterday’s Schools North East Academies Conference. Opinion was gauged in a special session where delegates used Slido, an online audience interaction tool, to give feedback.

They indicated unanimous support when asked, “Overall, is a new, curriculum-led framework a positive move forward?” and near unanimous support when asked, “Will this give North East schools better opportunity to give a good account of themselves?” Conversely, however, only 14% said they had confidence Ofsted would be able to deliver a curriculum-led inspection framework on the ground.

The key proposal of a new “quality of education” judgement received strong support, with 86% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the move. Splitting the behaviour and personal development judgements received the support of three quarters of respondents.

Reaction to the proposal to extend inspections of “good” schools to 2 days was mixed, with one delegate questioning whether this would mean a reduction in the overall number of inspections.

Delegates strongly opposed the idea of inspectors undertaking on-site preparation on the afternoon prior to inspection and no longer looking at non-statutory internal progress and attainment data.

The full results are shown in the graphs below:


Government policy hurting teacher recruitment, say Durham University academics

A new paper published by Durham University academics Beng Huat See and Stephen Gorard argues that teacher shortages are partly created by government policies themselves. They indicate that flaws in the selection system, school funding system, the official extension of the education and training leaving age and increases in the number of small schools may be to blame.

In the article’s abstract the authors say:

“There is widespread concern about the shortage of secondary school teachers in England. Recruitment to initial teacher training regularly fails to meet its intake targets. The secondary school pupil population is increasing. Teacher vacancies have risen, and more teachers are reportedly leaving the profession prematurely. Despite considerable investment in a wide range of initiatives, costing millions of pounds, the government has acknowledged that it has been unable improve the situation substantially.”

The authors suggest a reconsideration of the current selection processes for initial teacher training, independent review of the Teacher Supply Model and a long-term approach to teacher supply planning, considering other policy changes in a more coordinated way.

The full paper is available online here.

Ofsted will look more closely at ‘repeat’ patterns of suspension as part of new framework

Ofsted will look more closely at whether schools are “repeatedly” suspending or isolating the same pupils under its new inspection framework, it was reported this week.

A school found to be using suspensions or fixed-term exclusions “inappropriately” would only then be able to achieve a “requires improvement” grade at most, but some teachers say schools need to be able to use internal exclusion such as isolation rooms or suspensions without being “afraid of being clobbered by inspectors”.

Ofsted’s proposals say that inspectors will examine schools’ use of fixed-term or internal exclusions.

Read more on Schools Week.