Education links w/c 08/07/19 – Chronicle Live, Revealed: The top 10 secondary schools in the North East right now. – Chronicle Live, Sunderland school dubbed ‘broken’ celebrates after latest Ofsted inspection. – Chronicle Live, How good is your school? Every secondary in the North East ranked. – Darlington & Stockton Times, North Yorkshire school transport changes ‘will hit pupils from broken homes’. – The Northern Echo, English lessons for parents will help Darlington primary school pupils. – The Northern Echo, ‘Improvement needed’ at Polam Hall’s boarding school. – The Northern Echo, World experts to address North-East conference on autism and neurodiversity. – Sunderland Echo, Revealed: this is the number of unqualified teachers working in Sunderland state schools. – Sunderland Echo, Eton College offers Sunderland children chance to study at top school. – Gazette Live, Outwood academy chain’s record of turning round failing schools is showered with praise by Ofsted. – Gazette Live, The school with ‘complete dedication’ that’s transforming lives and has been named Teesside’s best. – Gazette Live, The top 10 Teesside state secondaries revealed in the 2019 Real Schools Guide. – Northumberland Gazette, Children ‘more enthusiastic and confident’ after summer programmes in Northumberland. 


Hinds announces Early Years initiative and new nursery places

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has launched the early years initiative ‘Hungry Little Minds’ in collaboration with a coalition of national businesses, aimed at improving communication and literacy skills in the early years.

The programme, aimed at supporting children from all income groups, will provide parents with video tips and advice on assisting language development through both playtime and everyday activities. While the Department for Education’s own data collection reveals a 20% increase over five years in the percentage of children attaining at least a good level of development in the early years, more than a quarter of children do not reach their expected level of development. Hungry Little Minds intends to build on core EYFS communication skills through encouraging engagement between parents and children, utilising shopping and other aspects of normal life for learning.

Although early years development in the North East matches the 70% national average, a significant gap in achievement is highlighted between pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSMs) and their classmates. The widest gap in the region was found in Northumberland where only 53% of students eligible for FSMs achieved the expected level of development, 24% lower than all other students.

Alongside the three-year campaign, £22m has been allocated between 66 schools across the country to open up 1,800 nursery places. Seven primary schools in the region will benefit from the scheme: one each in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, North Tyneside, Hartlepool, Durham and two in Northumberland. This adds to the 26,653 nursery places within the region, of which currently 89% are based within primary schools and meets the demands of the 29% parents nationally who pointed out the need for places in a recent DfE survey. Establishing new places in deprived areas should provide greater opportunities for all children in the region to get a high quality education and assist in narrowing attainment gaps in later years.

On the launch of the scheme, Mr Hinds said: “Part of making sure our children have the opportunity to take advantage of all the joys of childhood and growing up is supporting them to develop the language and communication skills they need to express themselves.

Sadly, too many children are starting school without these – and all too often, if there’s a gap at the very start of school, it tends to persist, and grow. The only way we are going to solve this is through a relentless focus on improving early communication.”

The initiative is aimed to extend the arrangement with businesses in improving lifelong learning outcomes from the early years through the use of educational apps for development. Among the collaborators are Lego, who have designed games specifically for the EasyPeasy education app platform, which is set to be piloted among 500 families in areas of low social mobility. 

Further reading: DfE Press Release

New computing hubs announced for North East

The 23 hubs chosen to improve computer science education in England have been announced by the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), with three in the North East.

Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Gateshead, Carmel College, Darlington, and Kings Priory School, North Tyneside will all become hubs, which are designed to offer support to local primary and secondary computing teachers, including teaching, resources and continuing professional development (CPD) activities. The hubs will also have links with industry professionals and university academics.

The University of Sunderland has been appointed to be the Regional Delivery Partner for the NCCE for the North East region.

You can read more about the hubs at:

40% of school closures in last decade rural schools, up 20% from previous decade.

Between 2000-2009, 424 schools closed without being replaced and 85 of them were in rural areas.

Since 2010, fewer schools have closed, at 230 but a higher proportion were in rural areas, with 98 closing.

Northumberland had the highest number of closures in the country, with 19 schools closing.

Primary Schools were are the most likely to close, with primaries accounting for 80% of rural school closures since 2000.

The decrease in number of overall closures is likely to be down to academisation, however, rural schools may find this difficult either due to financial reasons or being geographically isolated which can make rural schools less appealing to Multi Academy Trusts.

The figures come amid concerns over funding for schools across the country, with small, rural schools particularly vulnerable to tightening budgets. In 2018 data from the County Councils Network showed that 29 of 36 county councils reduced their expenditure on home to school transport, affecting over 22,000 pupils.

You can read more on this story at

Education links w/c 1/7/19 – Chronicle Live, Haydon Bridge High School making ‘good progress’ – Ofsted. – Chronicle Live, Headteacher who accused Boris Johnson of helping to fuel bullying crisis says it’s his ‘duty’ to speak out. – Chronicle Live, ‘It’s part of our identity’ – Heaton parents hit out at school’s re-branding. – Chronicle Live, Ryton student’s delight after receiving handwritten letter from Sir David Attenborough. – Darlington & Stockton Times, School’s new wildlife area with ‘outdoor classroom’ is now open. – The Northern Echo, Nursery in ship-shape thanks to Darlington College carpenters. – The Northern Echo, Darlington school’s ‘Outstanding’ aspirations inspires Lord Agnew. – Sunderland Echo, See adorable Sunderland youngsters dressed up as their favourite Toy Story characters. – Shields Gazette, Mariners help get pupils in step. – Shields Gazette, South Shields students put on their running shoes for Cancer Research Race for Life. – Hartlepool Mail, Free school meals figures spark benefit fears. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school celebrates achievements in science and the arts. – Hartlepool Mail, Plan for new Hartlepool student development gets thumbs-up from readers. – Gazette Live, New state-of-the-art £1m school hall starting to take shape. – Gazette Live, Parents to be fined up to £120 as rules on school pupil absences get stricter.

Secondary class sizes continue to rise DfE reveals

The average secondary class size has risen to 21.7 in 2019 after increasing for four consecutive years.

Data released by the DfE shows that 8.4% of all secondary school classes have between 31 and 35 pupils, up from 5.6% five years ago.

According to the DfE, as the current population bulge in primary schools moves through the school system, the number of pupils in secondary schools will continue to rise.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the increases in class size are “a direct result of real-terms cuts in school funding”.

These numbers come alongside the department’s school workforce census, which shows a fall in the number of teachers at secondary level. The data also showed that almost a third of teachers leave the profession within five years.

Further reading:

Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2019

School workforce in England: November 2018

Education links w/c 24/06/19 – Northern Echo ‘Report warns difficult decisions now ‘normal’ at schools’ – Northern Echo ‘Thousands of vulnerable Stockton children could lose free school breakfasts’ – Gazette Live ‘’Not good enough’: Teaching standard at Teesside primary school slammed by Ofsted’ – Darlington & Stockton Times ‘Parent wearing gas mask makes apology after ‘shooting’ schoolchildren’ – The Chronicle ‘The 20 North East schools stripped of their outstanding Ofsted status – with one rated inadequate’ – Darlington & Stockton Times ‘Hundreds of youngsters take part in School Games County Final’ – The Chronicle ‘Getting a top job still depends on going to public school in elitist Britain’ – The Chronicle ‘Why hundreds of people were walking together down Heaton Road on Saturday’ – Gazette Live ‘Primary school to open up over the school holidays to feed hungry children’ – Hexham Courant ‘Corbridge chemistry students named best in the North-East’ – Hexham Courant ‘Award celebrates Emily’s achievements’ – Hexham Courant ‘Schoolchildren’s plea for drivers to slow down outside Allendale Primary School’

Pupils from private schools dominate top jobs according to ‘Elitist Britain 2019’ report

Pupils from private schools still dominate top jobs according to the ‘Elitist Britain 2019’ report released by the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission. The report analysed the educational background of 5,000 people in what they classed as ‘top jobs’. These jobs covered roles in business, politics, the media, and sectors such as law, journalism and medicine.

Following its findings, the report makes a number of recommendations regarding policy across society and in the workplace, as well as three recommendations for education.

The report suggests that ‘high quality teaching is the most important factor for the attainment of disadvantaged young people, providing them with the basis for success later in life. And that ‘a more even spread of students from different social backgrounds across the system could help to tackle inequalities in access to quality teaching.’

While at Schools North East we strongly support the claim that high quality teaching is the most important factor in improving the attainment and opportunities of disadvantaged children, it must be stressed that high quality teaching is not only accessible from private schools.

The report concedes that attending a private school is both related to socio-economic advantage in the first instance and that it ‘can have a substantial impact on where they end up in life’, as it offers increased resources, facilities, and extra-curricular opportunities, as well as increased progression guidance and opportunities. However, there is little evidence to support claims that the quality of teaching is better in private schools, especially in regard to the most disadvantaged students. North East schools have a disproportionate number of long-term, ‘high impact’, disadvantaged students compared to the national state school average, let alone the private sector.

At Schools North East we are championing high quality teaching and the best in educational practice in all schools, through our new Ednorth Programme, which aims to establish a culture of evidence-based practice in all classrooms.

Lord Agnew speaks on funding pressures

Lord Agnew spoke to attendees at the Festival of Education at Wellington College on 20 June, 2019 regarding funding pressures on education.

Lord Agnew said he believes there are four areas where extra funding is needed: high needs, post 16, rural primary schools, and covering the pensions contributions.

He also spoke about the need to be ‘ ambitious for the future of our schools and colleges, not just for the next year but for the next generation.’

You can read Lord Agnew’s full speech on the DfE website: DfE Press Release

Education links w/c 17/06/19 – Chronicle Live, Meet the kids at a Heaton primary school bringing diverse books into their new library. – Chronicle Live, Monkseaton High School in Whitley Bay set to reopen after being closed due to flooding. – Chronicle Live, Schoolchildren ‘on strike’ for the fifth time as they demand urgent action on climate change. – Chronicle Live, More than 50 jobs at risk at Northumberland College after merger with Sunderland. – Sunderland Echo, High five for nursery as it celebrates its latest top score from inspectors. – Sunderland Echo, Meet the students signed up for Sunderland University’s first Learning Disability Nursing Practice degree. – Hartlepool Mail, Praise for students after success of Little Shop of Horrors stage show. – Hartlepool Mail, Special needs academy ‘overwhelmed’ by support after vandal attack. – Northumberland Gazette, £22million funding pot will give Northumberland’s workers the skills they need for jobs. – Northumberland Gazette, Alnwick primary school pupils take dance exams in their stride. – Gazette Live, Teesside private school pupils are ‘self-assured without a trace of arrogance’, inspectors say. – Gazette Live, Name and Headteacher confirmed for new Middlesbrough secondary school. – Gazette Live, Six Teesside nurseries voted among best in the North-East by parents. – Berwick Advertiser, The UK’s top 25 universities – according to World University Rankings 2020.