National Citizen Service Bill receives Royal Assent as new social mobility research shows participation in NCS boosts university admission

A new report using data from UCAS shows young people who take part in the extra-curricular National Citizen Service programme are significantly more likely to get into university, with an almost 50% increase in higher education participation for the most disadvantaged.

A groundbreaking new longitudinal research report released today shows that young people who take part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) are significantly more likely to get into university. The impact is greatest among those from the most disadvantaged areas, amounting to half of the current gap in university admission between the poorest areas and the rest in a major boost for social mobility.

This data is released following the National Citizen Service Bill receiving Royal Assent, having received cross party support. The legislation will help ensure that NCS is there for young people for generations to come, enshrining the programme in statute and granting it a Royal Charter. It will also help NCS to grow even more quickly, with the ability to write to all young people as they turn sixteen, inviting them to take part in the summer programme. This summer more than 100,000 young people are expected to take part in NCS, with over 5,100 signed up in the North East, making it the largest and fastest growing youth movement for 16-17 year olds in the country.

As teenagers prepare to take exams, the report, which analyses data provided by UCAS, shows that university admission is about more than just exam grades. Since its launch in 2009, NCS has given more than 300,000 young people from all social backgrounds the opportunity to spend four weeks experiencing the great outdoors, learning important life skills and volunteering in their local community.

This new social impact report revealed that the higher education participation rate for NCS graduates was on average 12% higher than for non-NCS graduates. However, most marked was the impact of NCS on young people living in areas of low and medium participation in higher education. The data revealed NCS graduates living in areas with the lowest rates of higher education participation were almost 50% more likely to go onto university or college than non-NCS graduates – thereby closing the higher education participation gap between these areas and the current national average by more than half.

In addition, the research report released today also looked at the significant impact that NCS has on boosting wellbeing, increasing life satisfaction and reducing anxiety. Taken together with the impact on university admissions, it found that the government funded programme had a positive return on investment. For every pound invested in NCS, up to £8.36 was returned in social benefits.

In the North East NCS is delivered by a partnership of v•Inspired and the National Youth Agency (NYA) alongside thirteen local delivery partners.

Contract Director for NCS North East, Kim Smith, said: “The passing of Royal Assent further cements NCS as a rite of passage for young people in the North East. The latest research that suggests NCS graduates are more sought after for university places is encouraging, particularly for deprived areas of the region where NCS has opened up the option of university for many. It is also worth noting that NCS boosts the CVs and personal statements for young people looking to secure apprenticeships and jobs with leading companies such as Accenture, who offer digital sector bootcamps for NCS North East graduates, as well as many local authorities and colleges, who recognise the value of NCS.”

Michael Lynas, CEO, NCS, said: “This important longitudinal study shows that NCS helps young people to get on in life – especially those from less well off backgrounds. NCS is leading to a 50% increase in higher education admission among the most disadvantaged – giving young people a leg up by learning vital life skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. The investment in young people’s futures has a big social return for our country, up to over £8 for every £1 invested. I’d urge all sixteen year olds to take part in NCS after GCSEs this summer. Not only will they make new friends and have an adventure, they will also be fast tracking their future.”

Stephen Greene, Chair, NCS, said: “Today marks a milestone in the history of NCS. We are immensely proud of what the young people have achieved and the network of brilliant organisations who have made the programmes happen. Receiving Royal Assent recognises the vital role that NCS has in helping young people realise the difference they can make to their futures, their communities and their country. As we make the transition to being a Royal Charter body we will be seeking ways to partner with even more organisations, helping us ensure NCS is accessible to every young person in the land.”

Lord David Blunkett, Board Member, NCS, said: “NCS represents a fundamental investment in the future of our country, building strong foundations and knitting together the bonds that tie us together as citizens.”

Lib-Dem Manifesto: education pledges ‘Put children first’

The Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto for the 2017 General Election yesterday, pledging a £7bn investment in children’s education.


Leading with their belief that teachers should be “given the flexibility to apply their expertise and develop children’s passion for learning”, the Lib-Dems have set the following plan for education if they win this year’s General Election:

  1. Scrap grammar schools plans and devolve all capital money for new school spaces to local authorities
  2. Introduce a fairer National Funding System with a protection for all schools
  3. End the 1% cap on teachers’ pay rises
  4. Extend the free school meal programme to all primary school pupils
  5. Introduce 25 hours of high quality CPD by 2020, to rise to 50 by 2025
  6. Tackle teacher workload by reforming Ofsted inspections and focusing on an evidence-based approach
  7. Allow Ofsted to inspect academy chains
  8. Introduce a curriculum entitlement – a slimmed down core national curriculum
  9. Prioritise primary progress measures instead of floor thresholds and work with the profession to reform tests at 11
  10. Provide training to all teaching staff to identify mental health issues
  11. Amend the Ofsted inspection framework to include promoting wellbeing as a statutory duty of schools
  12. Improve links between employers and schools, encouraging all schools to participate in employment and enterprise schemes

The above are the headline pledges, but the Liberal Democrats have published an extended education section of their manifesto which you can read here.

Their entire 2017 General Election manifesto is available to read here

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Worth a MOOC? Free industry recognised digital skills offer for schools and colleges

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership is supporting Accenture in rolling out their digital skills programme for school and college students aged 16+. The sessions, taught online and completely flexible in terms of when they can be delivered, cover:

• Digital fundamentals
• Social media
• Digital marketing
• User experience
• Mobility
• Analytics

On completing the course, students will achieve a quality mark from Accenture – one of the leading professional services companies – that they can use on their CV, as part of UCAS and in the workplace.

To participate in this exciting programme, please contact Dawn Bewick.

Academy at Shotton Hall announced as one of six new research schools in England

The Academy at Shotton Hall has been named as one of six new ‘research schools’ in England.

The Outstanding-graded Peterlee secondary school has been selected to receive £200k of funding to help improve the quality of teaching in the region by getting more teachers to use academic research in ways that make a difference in the classroom.

Over the next three years, it will work to break down barriers between teachers and academics by developing a programme of support and events for North East schools. These will include a range of training programmes designed to make research more accessible for teachers and bringing, what can too often be dismissed as complex concepts and principles, to life for use in the classroom.

The latest round of announcements brings the total number of research schools in the country to 11. They are:

Louise Quinn, Director of Shotton Hall Research School, who led the Academy’s bid said:

“As the founding school of the North East Learning Trust, a network of schools in the North East, we are well placed to lead on this exciting opportunity for the region. Making educational research accessible to teachers is at the heart of Research Schools. More importantly, they communicate what is most likely to work in terms of moving students on. Becoming a Research School not only puts us at the centre of innovative practice, but it gives us another method of improving outcomes for the children of the north east.”

SCHOOLS NorthEast welcomed the news and Director Mike Parker added:

“We need a step change in achievement, particularly at GCSE and A Level, and having a dedicated research school in the region will give a clear focus for engaging all North East schools in evidence-based education so that pupils achieve their full potential. We will do everything we can to support the Academy at Shotton Hall and help it to bring research into teaching practice for as many of our schools as possible.”

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Number of teacher training recruits drops

Figures published yesterday by UCAS reveal a drop of almost 7% in acceptances to teacher training programmes in England and Wales in 2016-17.

But the North East is the region faring the best in the country in terms of placing trainee teachers.

In England and Wales, only 26,000 recruits were accepted on to teacher training courses for 2016-17, as government targets for recruitment in the profession have been missed for five consecutive years. This is a decrease of 1,900 acceptances since last year.

The North East has the highest proportion of teacher training recruits, with over 60% (1,210) of the 2,000 existing applicants in the region having been placed. Overall, 1,300 applicants from across the country got a place with a North East provider out of a total of 5,700 applications.

However, both the number of applicants from the region and applications to North East providers have decreased by over 2.6% compared to last year.

SCHOOLS NorthEast launched an initiative last year aimed at helping schools in the region recruit the best possible candidates to fill their teaching and supply vacancies. This jobs board was created by schools for schools and it is a cost-effective solution to their recruitment needs. It can cost as little as £150 to advertise unlimited vacancies for a year. Please visit to see the website, or email for further details. 

Speaking to the BBC, Malcolm Trobe, acting general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

There are severe teacher shortages in schools across the country, particularly in maths and science.

Schools have to rely upon supply staff and non-specialists to teach many classes.

MPs show great deal of interest in mental health commission launched by SCHOOLS NorthEast

On Tuesday, the Health and Education select committees held a joint session to take evidence from experts on the role of education in children and young people’s mental health. One of these experts was Professor Dame Sue Bailey, who co-chairs Healthy MindED – the first schools-led commission into pupils’ mental health, launched by SCHOOLS NorthEast at our Summit in October.

Professor Bailey informed the committee of the innovative approach that schools in our region are taking to address the worrying decline in pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, through the work of the commission. MPs showed a great deal of interest in the collective approach that North East schools are taking to address a shared problem.

Also giving evidence were Kate Fallon from the Association of Educational Psychologists (based in Durham), Emily Frith from the Education Policy Institute and Sarah Brennan from the charity Young Minds.

Continue reading “MPs show great deal of interest in mental health commission launched by SCHOOLS NorthEast”

Middlesbrough school and World record holder team up to climb to the top

SCHOOLS NorthEast brokers resilience initiative between record-setting mountaineer and regional school

Macmillan Academy is the first school in the North East to take part


SCHOOLS NorthEast, the representative body of all 1,250 schools across the region, is delighted to announce that World record holder Masha Gordon launched a confidence-boosting programme with Macmillan Academy to tackle the ‘bravery deficit’ experienced by teenage girls.

GRIT&ROCK, the charity founded by Masha to share her record breaking journey in order to inspire teenage girls aged 13 to 15 from deprived, inner city backgrounds, will be rolling out the project for the first time in the North East at the Middlesbrough school.

The initiative aims to support girls in developing greater grit, determination and self-confidence through a year-long mountaineering training programme.

The Year 10 and 12 girls at Macmillan Academy who are part of the programme will be working with GRIT&ROCK, along with the school, to boost their confidence by undertaking exciting and challenging outdoors activities including wall climbing and high wires.

The teenagers will benefit from a programme that features weekly supervised indoor climbing sessions, two outdoors scrambling courses in the UK and an alpine skills initiation course during the June half-term. They will also receive mentorship from women with inspirational stories, including the charity’s patron Hazel Findlay.

Before taking on the world’s highest peaks, Masha Gordon was Managing Director of Goldman Sachs. She was named among “Top 40 under 40 in Asset Management Industry” and ‘Rising Stars in Finance” by Financial News.

Continue reading “Middlesbrough school and World record holder team up to climb to the top”

PM and Labour leader in heated PMQs debate over grammar schools plans

Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday saw Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn clash over the Government’s new plan to expand grammar schools in England.

Mrs May said Mr Corbyn should “stop casting his mind back to the 1950s”, after the opposition leader stated the Prime Minister wants to “expand a system that can only let children down”.

She said 1.25 million pupils were currently in schools which were “failing, inadequate or in need of improvement” and the plans – allied to the expansion of faith schools and more obligations on private schools – would give every child the high-quality education they deserved to enable them to “go where their talents take them”.

Both leaders attended grammar schools, a fact brought up by the Prime Minister towards the end of the debate.

Mr Corbyn has recently vowed to scrap the expansion plans and make this his top priority if he becomes Prime Minister.

Tall Ships Youth Trust announces new Summer Voyage

Departing from Sunderland and arriving in Ipswich this 12-15 year old Youth Voyage is sure to be a hit. Arising due to a last minute cancellation we are offering this voyage on a Buy one get on Half Price basis for a limited time. Beginning on the 25th of July and lasting 7 nights until 1st August this voyage will take in the stunning North East Coast of the UK and will no doubt leave the young people who participate with memories and friendships that will last them a lifetime.

In order to avail of the offer please contact the office on 02392832055 to speak to a member of the reservations team.

Tall Ships Youth Trust are the UK’s oldest and largest sail training charity, dedicated to the personal development of young people age 12 to 25, through the crewing of ocean-going sail training vessels. As a youth charity, we provide bursaries and funding to help young people get on board and realise their full potential. Sailing as part of a Tall Ships crew makes for a participative and empowering experience and our fleet provides a unique, physically and mentally challenging residential setting in which young people can explore their true potential.

To find out more contact Tall Ships Adventures on 023 9283 2055 or visit