Education Links w/c 16th July 2018 – Chronicle Live, Pupil tried to pass salt off as cocaine in prank at Gosforth school. – Chronicle Live, ReDiscover Project helps Gateshead pupils find out about careers in digital. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Probe leads to Colburn school’s SATS results being annulled. – Darlington & Stockton Times, North Yorkshire County Council ‘powerless’ to save one of its own schools. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Science knowledge of primary teachers woefully inadequate, warns Lord Winston. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Fresh plans to extend Durham Sixth Form facilities further. – Darlington & Stockton Times, 16,000-signature petition handed to Darlington civil servants over home education changes. – Hartlepool Mail, Primary school told it must do better. – Hartlepool Mail, ‘His face lit up’ – How a Hartlepool school and care home are helping each other. – Hartlepool Mail, Hundreds of Hartlepool youngsters raise cash in NSPCC muddy challenge. – Hartlepool Mail, Students honoured during school’s first awards night. – Hartlepool Mail, How Hartlepool primary schools hope to benefit from formal partnership. – Sunderland Echo, Former West End star hopes to inspire school with culture festival. – Sunderland Echo, Pupils parade through their community to mark school’s 20th birthday. – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland dad’s anger over school ice cream treat for good attendance. – Hexham Courant, Hike in expulsions and extensions in England’s schools. – Hexham Courant, Tyne Valley groups scoop LVE Northumberland awards. – The Northern Echo, Darlington Headteacher praises pupils’ cross country success. – The Northern Echo, In Pictures: Greenfield Community College Proms, Newton Aycliffe and Shildon. – The Northern Echo, Ingleton CofE Primary School Headteacher Judith Pressley retires. – Shields Gazette, Nursery creates a class full of little yoga lovers. – Shields Gazette, Schoolchildren unveil artwork at £4m housing scheme in South Shields. – Shields Gazette, School pupils hope their anti-smoking film will go viral.


“Voice of the Pupil” mental health project – register your interest

We are looking for schools to participate in the SCHOOLS NorthEast Healthy MindED Commission’s “Voice of the Pupil” project. Further information can be found here: SNE – VOTP.

This project uses small focus groups with pupils in school settings to explore their experiences of mental health. The insight gained from these discussions will help inform school development plans in relation to mental health and also feed back to the Commission to allow for reporting at a regional and national level.

Each school will be provided with training to carry out the focus groups in their own settings and be supported by a key partner from another school. There will be an introductory event in September for interested parties to hear more about the project and decide if this is something they want to be part of. This will then be followed by two training workshops in October. Dates for these events are as follows:

Introductory event – 14 September 2018 (events in north and south of the region)

First training workshop – 28 September 2018

Second training workshop – 19 October 2018

Venues to be confirmed.

Interested? To sign up or for more information e-mail SCHOOLS NorthEast’s Policy Officer Christopher Hawkins at

National Organisation to improve Education Specialists’ advice launched

An organisation which has been developed to establish national quality standards for education specialists who support schools has been officially launched in York.

The Association of Education Advisers (AoEA), is the brainchild of Les Walton, CBE, who has advised numerous cross-party governments on education policy as well as working at the highest levels in the public sector as a Head Teacher.

The establishment of this sector-led Association of Education Advisers addresses the need for quality and consistency of advice.  It is a membership and accreditation organisation that intends to provide a gateway for school and college leaders who wish to be education advisers or develop their skills to a higher level. Those who are presently working as education advisers are also encouraged to participate.

More than 80 delegates from multi-academy trusts, teaching school alliances, local authorities and private sector organisations attended the launch event to hear how the organisation will operate and how it will ensure quality within the sector.

High level speakers including Ian Mearns MP, who sits on the House of Commons Education Select Committee and Malcolm Trobe CBE, Deputy General Secretary for the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) gave a view on the national picture, while Lesley Powell CEO of the North East Learning Trust, Graham Soles of the Consilium Learning Trust and Eric Halton of Hampshire Local Authority spoke about the need for quality advisers within their organisations.

AoEA, which is a not-for-profit body limited by guarantee, has received widespread encouragement from national education leaders such as Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner, Peter Lauener, Chief Executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency and Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System as well as professional representative organisations such as ASCL, FASNA, NAHT and NGA.

Les Walton said: “A modern education system requires advice and support that is independent and of a consistent quality, irrespective of changes in government policy. Education advisers also need to be able to demonstrate the impact of their advice.

“What the AoEA will do is to ensure a range of professional, credible and authoritative advisers by providing staged assessments firstly to review professional competency and personal capacity and this will lead to accreditation at Associate or Senior Associate level.”

Malcolm Trobe CBE, Deputy General Secretary of ASCL, said: “As a leader of a school or college, keeping all the plates spinning can be tricky and sometimes requires external support.  Advisory support can help by looking at a problem from a different angle. This happens in business all the time, but not so often in education.  I think the AoEA is an excellent idea and think it has a key role to play in ensuring educational institutions can access the highest quality advice.”


Careers and Enterprise Company to publish board minutes

Records of meetings held by the board of the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) will  be published online from this month, following pressure from MPs.

Launched in 2015, the company is leading efforts on behalf of the government to connect more young people with the world of work. Figures released to Schools Week show the CEC has so far received £40.8 million of government funding since 2015, and will get at least £18.8 million in each of the next two financial years.

In May, MPs raised grave concerns over a lack of evidence relating to the impact it has made so far, while committee chair Robert Halfon questioned why the CEC had never exposed itself to proper scrutiny by publishing board minutes.

Read the full article in Schools Week.

Minister admits nursery schools need more cash

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi has said it would be “foolishly stupid” to deny that local authority-maintained nurseries are under financial pressure.

He made his comments with a rising number of nursery schools warning that they are in financial straits and at risk of closure.

Mr Zahawi urged town halls to hold fire on decisions about nurseries until the government’s forthcoming comprehensive spending review, due next year, as he vowed to lobby the Treasury for ongoing funding.

Nursery schools were given an extra £60 million by the government last year to support them through changes to the way early years education is funded. But this funding is due to end in 2020.

Giving evidence on early years provision to the Commons Education Select Committee yesterday, Mr Zahawi was pressed by the Conservative chair, Robert Halfon, on whether this funding should be extended beyond 2020, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

Read the full article in the Tes.


Northern Education Trust’s response on Stockton Council’s concerns over ‘unprecedented’ levels of exclusion

In last week’s Weekly Update newsletter (dated 6th July 2018), SCHOOLS NorthEast published an article titled ‘Stockton Borough Council Committee raises concerns over “unprecedented” levels of exclusion’.

The CEO of a multi-academy trust named in this council report says the document doesn’t accurately reflect what is happening in one of its academies on a day-to-day basis.

Northern Education Trust have released a statement to SCHOOLS NorthEast in response to Stockton Borough Council’s findings.

Response from Rob Tarn, chief executive of Northern Education Trust, to Stockton Borough Council’s Final Report on fixed term exclusions

We are extremely disappointed with the final report and feel that it is not indicative of what is happening in the academy on a day to day basis nor reflective of what councillors saw when visiting the school. The culture at North Shore has been completely transformed.

Words such as ‘draconian’ are unhelpful, not representative of the real culture of the school and question the professionalism and unswerving commitment of staff who care deeply for our children, particularly the most vulnerable.

We will not apologise for having high expectations of student behaviour. We introduced a new behaviour policy in September and this undeniably led to a rise in fixed-term exclusions. However, the rate of fixed term-exclusion has reduced by over 350% from the first eight weeks of the year in comparison to the last eight school weeks. We note that this dramatic reduction is also not highlighted in the report.

The report rightly highlights that whilst fixed term exclusions were high this has not translated into high numbers of permanent exclusions. Moreover, across the Trust, we have only had one permanent exclusion from a total of 1,388 year 11 students.

In a recent student survey 93% of students at North Shore stated that behaviour was now better, 94% felt they now learn more in lessons and 95% of students stated that they now feel safer in school than they have previously.

Similarly, in an anonymous staff survey 98% of responses indicated that behaviour is now managed effectively, 98% believed students were respectful to staff and 98% reported feeling safe within the academy.

These are not just mere statistics.  The fact that students feel better about the academy is reflected in their day-to-day conduct – something that has been commented upon regularly by a number of key stakeholders when they have visited.

Around 200 Year 8 parents who attended the recent Year 8 Graduation were keen to tell staff how much the academy has improved this year.

Most importantly, forecasted outcomes for students this summer are set to be the best in the academy’s history, with those students who have been excluded predicted to do better than the whole of last year’s Year 11.

We will continue in our drive to improve outcomes for students in order to improve their life chances.

School spending on pupils cut by 8%, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies

The amount of per pupil spending in England’s schools has fallen by 8% since 2010, says an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The study says rising pupil numbers – and cuts to local authorities and sixth form funding – have seen a real-term reduction in school spending.

Heads say it disproves government “rhetoric” about record funding levels.

The Department for Education says funding will be at its “highest ever level”, reaching £43.5bn by 2020.

School leaders have been protesting that cash shortages have forced them to cut staff and to ask parents for financial assistance – but the government has argued that school funding has been protected.

Read the full article on the BBC.

North East selected to host lead Careers Hub

The North East has been selected to host a prestigious Careers Hub dedicated to improving careers education for young people.

One of 21 across England, the ‘North East Ambition: Careers Hub’ will support schools and colleges in the region to implement and achieve the 8 Gatsby Career Benchmarks – the clearly defined framework for ‘Good Career Guidance’.

Delivered by The Careers & Enterprise Company in partnership with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the North East Ambition: Careers Hub will comprise of 40 secondary schools with a separate Hub servicing 10 colleges – including all nine FE colleges in the North East and one sixth form college.

Heidi Mottram, Vice Chair of the North East LEP, said: “Following our successful delivery of the Gatsby Career Benchmarks pilot, I’m delighted another of the initiatives trailed and tested here in our region is being rolled out across the country as part of the Government’s Careers Strategy.

“In recognition of our experience delivering outstanding careers guidance, the North East Ambition: Careers Hub will be the national lead, supporting the other 20 to deliver the eight Gatsby benchmarks in schools and colleges across England.”

Alongside the North East LEP, SCHOOLS NorthEast campaigned for the Gatsby benchmarks to be piloted in the North East in 2015, having been a long-standing supporter of improving careers education in the region.

At the SCHOOLS NorthEast FutureReady event held in February 2018, Careers and Enterprise Company’s Chief Operating Officer Natalie Cramp said that “North East schools were instrumental in the creation of the Government’s new Careers Strategy.”

Mike Parker, SCHOOLS NorthEast Director, said: “This is a fantastic result for the North East. NELEP and their partners, alongside the Careers and Enterprise Company, have worked extremely hard to bring careers education to our region.

“This is great news for our region’s schools and our young people, and I’m proud of the part that SCHOOLS NorthEast has played in shining a light on the region.”

The Careers Hubs are a central part of the Government’s Careers Strategy which was published in December. The strategy aims to improve careers education and help prepare young people for the world of work.

Schools and colleges enrolled in the Hubs will work with universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to improve careers education. They will be supported by a ‘Hub Lead’ and Enterprise Coordinators who will help coordinate activity and build networks. They will also be able to access a Central Hub Fund, equivalent to around £1,000 per school or college, with additional support available, including access to training for career leaders and enhanced employer encounters.

The North East is the only region in England to host a dedicated Hub for colleges.

Heidi continued: “Improving careers education for young people and ensuring businesses have access to a skilled workforce is central to our Strategic Economic Plan for the North East.

“The North East Ambition: Careers Hub will help us achieve this by giving young people access to high quality careers guidance and preparing them for the world of work.”

Education Links w/c 9th July 2018 – Chronicle Live, St Thomas More Roman Catholic Academy in North Shields reopens after fire. – Chronicle Live, Year 6 SATs results pulled from website as teachers say some pupils have been left off.  – Chronicle Live, See inside fire-hit St Thomas More Academy after blaze breaks out at North Shields school. – Chronicle Live, Leadership at Joseph Swan Academy criticised as Ofsted brand school ‘inadequate’. – Chronicle Live, Newcastle students make heartwarming gesture in memory of tragic Tyler Garwood. – Darlington & Stockton Times, West Burton school’s ‘go it alone’ plan to survive. – Darlington & Stockton Times, In Pictures: Richmond School Year 11 Class of 2018 Prom. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool pupils show some love for epilepsy charity in fancy dress fun run.  – Sunderland Echo, Pupils stunned by amount of litter found on beach clean-up day. – Sunderland Echo, Sunderland school pupils take to the streets for clean-up campaign. – Sunderland Echo, Thornhill Academy visit Sunderland Echo newsroom to see work  make it into sprint. – Hexham Courant, Pupils old and new celebrate their school’s 200th birthday. – Hexham Courant, Council approves plan to close Bellingham Middle School. – Hexham Courant, Rising pressures see teachers leave schools across Northumberland. – The Northern Echo, Learning about the nature of the North York Moors. – The Northern Echo, In Pictures: Greenfield Community College Proms, Newton Aycliffe and Shildon. – Shields Gazette, Nursery creates a class full of little yoga lovers. – Shields Gazette, Schoolchildren unveil artwork at £4m housing scheme in South Shields.  – Shields Gazette, World Cup fever hits school in Jarrow.

Stockton Borough Council raises concerns over “unprecedented” levels of exclusions

Stockton Borough Council’s Children and Young People Select Committee has raised concerns over “unprecedented” levels of Fixed Term Exclusions (FTE) and “significantly higher” cases of permanent exclusions in the borough in a draft final report considered at the Committee’s 27 June meeting.

The report states that the behaviour management systems adopted by some academy converter schools are the key driver of this increase.

Councillors also mention the pressure rising exclusions are placing on alternative provision, funding in the Council’s high needs block, the high numbers of in-year transfers and the rising numbers of parents electing to educate their children at home.

Rising Exclusions

Pages 15-17 sets out the exclusions data leading up to 2017-18, which shows increased exclusions in all categories, including for pupils with SEN Support or Education Health and Care Plans. It notes that the SEN and Engagement Service would intervene to ensure pupils that have SEND and an EHCP in place were not permanently excluded. The table showing FTEs is shown below:

Source: Review of Inclusion in Schools, Draft Final Report, Children and Young People Select Committee, Stockton Borough Council

Members suggest that:

“The rise has been largely due to the introduction of new behaviour management policies adopted by Academy converter schools. In particular, the ‘Consequences’ behaviour policy. The Trusts responsible for implementing this policy are Outwood Grange Academy Trust and Northern Education Trust which runs North Shore. Ingleby Manor Free School, under Delta Academy Trust, has also recently adopted the same policy.”

According to the report:

“The Consequences Policy is based on a system whereby following misbehaviour, which can in some cases be viewed as relatively minor, pupils are subject to a sanction that they must complete/comply with otherwise they progress to the next level of sanction. Pupils unwilling or unable to complete the sanctions will be unable to avoid the next sanction. Ultimately this can lead to time spent in the Consequences Room which includes a number of booths in which the pupil cannot see anyone else in the Room aside from the supervising teacher. If the session in the Consequences Room is not completed satisfactorily, this leads to a Fixed Term Exclusion.”

The Committee states that the aforementioned “Consequences” behaviour policy can include the use of a “Consequences Room”. Appendix 5 describes councillors’ visit to Outwood Academy Bishopsgarth, where they visited the Consequences Room. It states:

“Failure to complete detentions or misbehaviour in matrix, see pupils receive a C5 which is a session in the Consequences Room.

We visited the Consequence room which had 4 children in it at the time of the visit. We spoke to the four students in there. For one it was his first visit, he understood fully why he was there. Again there was an acceptance from all that they had broken the rules and been given opportunities to resolve their problem but had chosen not to do so. Some had been in the Room several times. They were all provided with work/reading.

It was not seen as a pleasant environment, the room was perceived as being very dark and dismal by those on the visit with the 12 cubicles painted in matt black. Once in a booth, the pupils could only see the supervising teacher, and not each other.”

Page 24 mentions with approval some amendments made to the Consequences approach, on a pilot basis, at Outwood Academy Bishopsgarth during the period of the review. However, it adds that councillors remain concerned about the overall approach to behaviour and points out that the number of children in the borough covered by such policies continues to grow.

Response of Outwood Grange Academies Trust and Northern Education Trust

Representatives from North Shore Academy/Northern Education Trust, and Outwood Academy Bishopsgarth/Outwood Trust attended the Committee to give their perspective.

Councillors note that both Outwood Academy Bishopsgarth and North Shore Academy have had challenging histories of low attainment.

The Trusts highlighted to the Committee their determination to set high standards and expectations for all children and argued that their behaviour policies are a crucial part of this approach. Setting a strict approach was seen as being sometimes necessary if a school needed to be rapidly improved.

The report goes on to set out in more detail the response of the representatives:

“Children were described as not being able to access their learning if the school had an overall behaviour problem, and it was reported that the schools were seeing pupils returning to school who had previously stayed away. Although policies were in place to ensure standards existed around uniform and make-up for example, it was highlighted that it was the refusal to remove offending items etc when asked by senior staff that was the basis of sanctions and exclusions, not the wearing of items themselves.

There was general agreement that permanent exclusions should be avoided in Year 11 wherever possible.

North Shore gave examples of steps taken to provide for variety of needs including Personalised Learning Centre which has access to mental health support, additional Teaching Assistant investment in specific cases, and £250k investment in alternative education. Pupils on the school’s Vulnerable Child Register were now attending were they had not previously.

It was noted that other schools within the Outwood Trust (Bydales Academy) had been rated as Outstanding by Ofsted for Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare, and attendance had significantly improved at Outwood Academy Acklam.

During the visits to the schools, which took place with no advance notice, Members saw that the atmosphere in the schools was calm and there was no obvious misbehaviour taking place. Several examples of support in place for students were in evidence, and further details can be seen in the reports of the visits.”

However, from comments made elsewhere in the report it appears that the Committee remained unconvinced that the behaviour management systems used by the Trusts in question are necessarily the best approach. For example, the report quotes the Association of Directors of Children’s Services as saying:

“inflexible school behaviour policies too often do not allow for reasonable adjustments to be made when children have previously, or are currently experiencing, adversity. The growth in ‘zero tolerance’ policies, particularly (but not only) in academy schools, mean exclusion is almost inevitable for any learner who struggles to meet stringent expectations deployed in the name of ‘consistency’”.

The report then adds:

“From the evidence and data seen by the Committee, Members would be in agreement with this statement.”

A number of matters the Committee says are related to rising exclusions are also highlighted:

  • There are very high numbers of in-year transfers in Stockton and high numbers of managed moves. The report suggests many in-year transfers are linked to the threat of exclusions and managed moves are increasing as students find it hard to succeed with some behaviour management systems.
  • Elective Home Education (EHE) is also rising and it is suggested there is a correlation between this and rising exclusions. Councillors say there is evidence it is being used as an alternative to exclusion.
  • The Bishopton Pupil Referral Unit has reached full capacity due to the rise in permanent exclusions, impairing the quality of the support that can be
    offered to children who are permanently excluded. Schools have also made representations to the Committee to say that this has restricted their behaviour management options.
  • Rising exclusions are also seen to be putting pressure on funding. The report mentions that additional places purchased from other PRUs led to an additional cost of £200k above the £500k allocated in the 2017-18 budget for the autumn term only. It goes on to say: “Funding for the PRU and alternative provision comes from the High Needs Block which also funds SEND services. This budget was already under strain due to the increasing numbers and complexity of cases in the Borough. This means that the number of exclusions is having a negative impact on the availability of support for children with special needs across every school.”

The report concludes that:

“The Committee remains very concerned at the increasing use of fixed term and permanent exclusion in some schools and Multi Academy Trusts (MATs).

In conducting this review, the Committee is aware of the limited extent to which it can influence the behavioural policies of MATs, and that these responsibilities lie with the Regional Schools Commissioner and with the Department for Education.

The Committee has however identified a number of basic outcomes which we feel are important and inter-related. These relate directly to the scope of this review, and which we believe should form the basis of a school system in Stockton: a) We believe all children have a right to an education that enables them to achieve their potential b) We believe that schools should respect children as individuals and treat them in accordance with their needs c) We believe schools should avoid excluding children wherever possible, as this ultimately leads to poorer outcomes for children d) We believe schools should value, celebrate and promote a sense of achievement, enabling happy, healthy and aspirational young people.

The Committee is also particularly concerned regarding the limited nature of Local Authority powers in relation to children in home education, in addition to any links between the increasing numbers and the rise in exclusions.”