Researchers analyse Ofsted’s “stuck” schools

In Ofsted’s 2018 annual report the inspectorate identified 190 “stuck” secondary schools, defined as those rated less than good in every inspection since September 2005.

Researchers at FFT Education DataLab have shown that these schools tend to have greater proportions of White British, Free School Meal (FSM) eligible pupils than other schools that also received a less than good outcome in September 2005 but subsequently improved their grade.

The analysis further shows that recovering from a less than good inspection judgement can take some time. On average it took 300 weeks, or more than six years, to get half of the schools rated satisfactory to good and a further 100 weeks to get half of those rated inadequate to good.

Read the full article here.


Analysis shows impact of poverty and ethnicity in inspections

Ahead of Ofsted’s 2019 framework consultation Schools North East analysis has shown the impact of poverty and ethnicity on secondary school inspection outcomes.

The charts below show inspection outcomes for English secondary schools in the top (629 schools) and bottom (336 schools) quintiles for proportions of pupils with English as an additional language (EAL), ordered by levels of deprivation. Deprivation is defined here as the proportion of “Ever6” pupils in a school, meaning they have been eligible for free school meals at some point in the last 6 years.

The analysis appears to show that poverty has a much smaller effect on the likelihood of achieving a good or outstanding grade in a school with high numbers of EAL pupils. A similar pattern does not appear to hold at Primary school level.

As there are a smaller numbers of schools in the bottom EAL quintile we also looked at the combined bottom 3 EAL quintiles (1,773 schools) which showed a similar, if less dramatic, pattern. The most deprived schools in the highest quintile for EAL pupils are 81% good or outstanding, whereas the same figure for the most deprived schools in the bottom three quintiles for EAL pupils is only 43%.

In the North East, which has the lowest proportion of EAL pupils, 28% of secondary schools in the most deprived quintile were rated good or outstanding.

Research by Education DataLab has previously shown that the impact of disadvantage tends to be much greater on White British pupils than most other ethnic groups, particularly at KS4. Researchers are unclear as to why the impact of poverty becomes greater after KS2: it may simply be that disadvantage has had more time to negatively impact on pupils’ achievement by this point. It is also unclear why exactly the impact of disadvantage on White British pupils tends to be more deleterious than it is to other ethnic groups.

Ofsted is launching a consultation on its 2019 framework on Wednesday 16 January. It is scheduled to take effect from September of this year.

Note: 2016/17 data was used for this analysis as there is currently an issue with large amounts of missing data on school-level deprivation for 2017/18. Only schools which had data on inspection outcomes and Ever6 in 2016/17 were included in this analysis.

Report examines academy chain performance with disadvantaged pupils

The Sutton Trust has published its fifth and final Chain Effects report, examining the impact of sponsored academy chains on disadvantaged pupils.

The analysis includes all chains with at least two secondary or all-age sponsored academies which have consistently been part of the same chain for three academic years, and which had pupils taking GCSE exams in each of those years. Not all of these are organised as MATs.

The report finds that:

  • Overall, academy chains under-perform the mainstream average for disadvantaged pupils.
  • However, the report caveats this by pointing out that a small number of academy chains have provided exactly the kind of transformational outcomes that were initially anticipated by policy-makers.
  • Academy chains are in the main providing for a disproportionately disadvantaged pupil demographic in terms of pupil prior attainment as well as socioeconomic disadvantage, which it sees as consistent with the original mission of the academies programme. It says that this level of challenge has been “naively disregarded” by Government. It recommends that the DfE recognises the time it takes to turn around struggling schools
  • It regrets that some chains have responded to government accountability and incentives in ways which are arguably not necessarily in their disadvantaged students’ interests, including “entering pupils into all EBacc subjects even when they are unlikely to achieve standard level passes, as well as more dubious strategies such as off-rolling.”

The report finds that the characteristics of high performing academy chains are:

  • being longer established and having grown slowly;
  • having strong experience of strategies for improving schools;
  • only taking on schools that are exceptionally challenging when they have the capacity to support them;
  • having fewer pupils with low prior attainment;
  • having developed effective strategies to respond to national changes in the curriculum and in key performance indicators (some of which may involve ‘game-playing’);
  • learning from the strategies used in other trusts;
  • having a sustained mission and commitment to improving the education of disadvantaged pupils.

Read the full report here.

Ministers announce first areas to receive school mental health support

The Department for Education (DfE) and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have announced the first 25 areas to receive help from the new mental health support teams, which will work between schools and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), and offer support and treatments in schools, including cognitive behaviour therapy.

In the North East bids from Newcastle Gateshead CCG, South Tyneside CCG and Northumberland CCG were successful. The teams will work with around 20 schools or 8,000 pupils in each area. Training is set to begin in January and the teams are scheduled to be in place by the end of 2019.

Schools North East has previously criticised the timing of the bidding process. Despite Ministers’ encouragement of extensive dialogue between CCGs and school leaders, the process was announced just before this year’s summer school holidays and ran until early September. The timescales for full roll-out have also come under fire after Ministers admitted that the scheme would reach a maximum of 25 per cent of the population by 2023.

Plans for further expansion of children and young people’s mental health services will be set out in the government’s long-term plan for the NHS.

Read the joint DfE DHSCE press release here.


Long-term decline in number of teachers entering Parliament

House of Commons Library statistics have shown a significant drop in the number of former teachers elected as MPs over the last 20 years.

At the 1997 election 20% of MPs were school, college or university teachers at the time of their election. Yet at the 2015 election that figure had fell to just 5.1%.

The chart below is a visual representation of the data from 1979-2015, with teachers shown as blue. Only Conservative and Labour MPs are included, except for 2015 when the Scottish National Party are also included.

The report, “Social background of Members of Parliament 1979-2017” is available here.

DfE announces High Needs funding boost

The Secretary of State has announced an additional £250 million to local authorities for High Needs Funding in England over the next two years, saying that the additional investment will help local councils to manage those pressures, whilst being able to invest to provide more support.

The funding is not new money from the Treasury- it is a redistribution of underspent school funding, which is available because the government over-estimated pupil numbers.

It will be allocated on the basis of the 2 to 18-year-old population in each local authority, which is also the criteria used to allocate a large proportion of funding in the High Needs Funding Formula.

Speaking in a recent Schools North East webinar on High Needs Funding, school finance expert Julie Cordiner criticised the DfE’s reliance on a population factor for allocating funding. She argued that this approach ignores the more random incidence of need and, in any event, cost pressures are driven by the complexity of need, not levels of incidence. Under the approach the DfE has pursued, two areas with the same number of pupils would get the same amount of money even if they provided very different levels of SEND support.

Allocations for the North East in the current year are shown below. It shows the variance in funding per pupil with EHCP or SEN support, where areas with higher incidence have actually received less additional funding per pupil.

DfE publish interim findings on improving vulnerable children’s well-being

The DfE has published interim findings in its “Improving the educational outcomes of Children in Need of help” review, designed to give teachers and social workers advice to improving vulnerable children’s well-being, behaviour and school attendance.

The interim findings highlight ways to support children in need of help and protection in education such as:

  • training for professionals to recognise the lasting impact of trauma and adversity on children’s school attendance, learning, behaviour and well-being;
  • better information sharing and multi-agency working between schools and other local agencies on the child’s family circumstances; and
  • inclusion in school and making proportionate adjustments to promote better outcomes – such as teachers adapting how they communicate with vulnerable children and how they manage their behaviour.

The findings mention Operation Encompass, an initiative focused on children exposed to domestic abuse, whereby police quickly alert school safeguarding leads of incidents by the next day. Schools can then discuss how best to support the pupil.

Read the full interim findings here.

Ofsted publishes annual report

Ofsted has published the Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of
Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/18. The report’s key findings for the North East were:

  • By the end of August 2018, 85% of schools in the North East were judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection, compared with 86% nationally. This was a one percentage point decline for the region compared with August 2017.
  • For primary schools, 90% in the region were judged to be good or outstanding, the same as in August 2017. North Tyneside and Redcar and Cleveland had 95% of their primary schools judged good or outstanding compared with 79% in Darlington. Northumberland had the highest rate of improvement across the region, whereas in South Tyneside the proportion of good or outstanding schools declined by nine percentage points compared with 2017.
  • For secondary schools, 58% were judged to be good or outstanding; below the national figure and a four percentage point decline compared with August 2017. In Middlesbrough and Newcastle upon Tyne 71% of inspected secondary schools were good or outstanding compared with three of the eight inspected schools (38%) in Darlington. Gateshead had the highest rate of improvement in the proportion of good or outstanding secondary schools compared with 2017.
  • In England around 19,000 pupils, that is 4% of pupils, did not progress from Year 10 in January 2016 to Year 11 in January 2017. In the North East it was around 900 pupils (3%).

The report also praised the performance of some North East primary schools in disadvantaged pupils’ reading progress, saying:

“The data shows that in some economically deprived areas – for example, Newham in London and Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East – children eligible for FSM perform much better than in more affluent areas such as West Berkshire. These differences are particularly stark for boys who are eligible for FSM.”

Responding to the report, Chris Zarraga, Schools North East’s Director of Operations and Development, said:

“Schools North East would welcome a wider debate following this report around school exclusions and disadvantaged children in the North East.

“The report shows some positive results for the region, particularly in Ofsted grades for our primaries, but it is concerning that the two stages of primary and secondary are once again being pitted against each other. Ofsted grades statistically bear a very close relationship to a school’s levels of deprivation. Our region’s secondary results are a reflection of deprivation levels in the North East, rather than the region underperforming against other areas of the country. When differences in school intakes, levels of relative poverty, and the prior attainment of students are factored in, the differences with other regions disappear.

“Ofsted’s report also fails to acknowledge the impact of inadequate levels of funding in schools and local support services, which have a disproportionately greater effect on deprived areas such as the North East.”

“Schools North East strongly welcomes the Department for Education’s newest initiative in the region, Opportunity North East, which has the potential to address this issue and ensure that our secondary schools get the support and recognition that they deserve, with equal opportunities to help our children receive an excellent education.”

Read the full report here.

Disadvantaged children far more likely to feel lonely, says ONS report

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published a study on loneliness among children and young people. Statisticians found that 27.5% of children who received free school meals said they were “often” lonely, compared with 5.5% of those who did not. Other findings included:

  • 11.3% of children said that they were “often” lonely; this was more common among younger children aged 10 to 12 years (14.0%) than among those aged 13 to 15 years (8.6%).
  • 27.5% of children who received free school meals said they were “often” lonely, compared with 5.5% of those who did not.
  • 19.5% of children living in a city reported “often” feeling lonely, compared with just over 5% of those living in either towns or rural areas.
  • Children who reported “low” satisfaction with their health said they “often” felt lonely (28.3%), compared with those who had “medium, high or very high” satisfaction (about 10%).
  • Children who reported “low” satisfaction with their relationships with family and friends were also more likely to say they were “often” lonely (34.8% and 41.1%, respectively)

Commenting, Dawn Snape from the ONS said the study would provide more information about how loneliness might affect people’s health and well-being. She said:

“We’ve looked at how often children and young people feel lonely and why. An important factor is going through transitional life stages such as the move from primary to secondary school and, later, leaving school or higher education and adapting to early adult life.”

Read the full report here.

Opportunity North East Board Announced

The Board for Opportunity North East has been announced.

Opportunity North East, which was unveiled by the Department of Education on Monday 8th October, is the England’s first and only region-led Opportunity Area and is set to bring a £24 million investment to support education in the North East.

Schools North East Director, Mike Parker, is one of the 12 representatives from the region who will sit on the Board of Opportunity North East.

The Board will be chaired by Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, and will include representatives in education and business from across the region, including Schools North East.

Mike Parker, Director of Schools North East, said: “I am delighted that Schools North East, the UK’s first and only school-led regional network in the UK, has a seat at the table and is able to play a part in the decisions that will be made on how provision can be improved in the North East.

“Schools North East will work to ensure that the voices of our region’s schools are heard and listened to. We will continue to champion the bright and fulfilling futures that the children in our region deserve.”

Opportunity Areas, which were launched in 2016 and were based in a singular area, were designed to give schools access to funding and resources to boost opportunities for children in that area. Opportunity North East is the first initiative in which the Government is providing funds that will be used across an entire region.

You can read the full release on the announcement of the Opportunity North East Board here.