Statistics on pre-school children’s mental health published for the first time

The Department of Health has published the Mental Health of Children and Young
People in England prevalence survey 2017, which includes statistics on the mental health of pre-school children for the first time.

The findings show that one in eighteen two to four-year-olds has a condition that meets diagnostic thresholds – which, by definition, causes them significant distress or impairs their functioning.

While this is low compared to older groups it disguises significant differences. For example, 9.2% of two to four-year-olds in the North of England (12.9% of boys) met diagnostic thresholds, compared to 3.3% in the South.

Read the full statistical release here.




Education Links w/c 3rd December 2018 – Chronicle Live, High exclusion rates and a drop in performance: How North East schools shape up according to Ofsted. – Chronicle Live, How good are schools where you live? Ofsted reveals North East’s best performing areas. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Call to end ‘stupid’ parking at Darlington schools. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Creative students help drive home the road safety message in Darlington.  – The Northern Echo, Ofsted publish performance rankings for schools in the region. – The Northern Echo, Darlington breakfast club fuelling pupils through school day. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool secondary school development wins praise from construction body. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool school nativity play in line for national TV broadcast after pupils make final of Virgin competition. – Shields Gazette, Two thirds of schools in South Tyneside rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ according new figures. – Shields Gazette, Anger after thieves strip taps and piping from South Shields primary school. – Shields Gazette, South Tyneside College in two-day shutdown due to major gas fault. event is valuable for Academy pupils. – Northumberland Gazette, School serves up excellence on a plate.  

No school funding crisis, says National Schools Commissioner

England’s school system is not even on the verge of a funding crisis, the National Schools Commissioner has insisted.

Dominic Herrington’s comments, in his first major interview since becoming interim national schools commissioner in September, come despite warnings from teachers, MPs, ex-ministers and funding experts of growing funding problems in schools.

Speaking to the Tes Mr Herrington said: “I don’t agree [the school system] is on the verge of a crisis but I am acutely conscious of the pressures that schools and academy trusts face, both professionally and personally, and I think our job is to make sure we help those trusts as best we can.” He also dismissed warnings that cuts were harming the quality of education.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has calculated that per pupil spending declined by 8%, or £506 per pupil, since 2009/10 as real terms schools funding stagnated and pupil numbers increased. Schools North East has determined that additional investment of £4.3 billion would be required to return per pupil spending to 2009/10 levels.

Last week a YouGov survey found 71 per cent of teachers are in schools with falling budgets and 55 per cent said class sizes had increased in their schools.

This week the Education Select Committee also heard warnings that the SEND system could “implode” because of a lack of funding. School finance expert Julie Cordiner this week warned of the urgency of the problem in High Needs in a webinar for Schools North East. She has calculated that costs associated with High Needs have increased by 27% from 2013/14 to 2018/19, against a backdrop of minimal increases in funding and growth of 10.9% in the number of plans over the same period.[1]

[1] Julie Cordiner, School Financial Success, High Needs Funding in Crisis (2018)

Kenton School’s Behaviour Policy receives national attention

A secondary school in Newcastle has this week received national attention for including litter picking in its Behaviour Policy review.

Kenton School, which has over 2000 pupils, was featured in the media earlier in the week for it’s alternative punishments which included community work.

Speaking to School North East, Sarah Holmes-Carne, Principal at Kenton School, said: “This is nothing unusual – we are reviewing our Behaviour Policy as key staff have changed. This review is just formalising what we have done.

“Punishments are quite futile – sitting in a detention isn’t constructive when children could be giving back to the school community. Pupils can earn their detention time back unless they wanted to choose the litter picking option.”

Speaking about how litter picking can develop life and personal skills, Ms Holmes-Carne said: “It’s not to humiliate but to get children to think about being part of the community. Giving thought and giving back.

“We don’t implement any policies until we consult with pupils, parents and teachers. At Kenton we encourage parents to come in and give their views. This policy has been overwhelmingly positive in the feedback.

“The aim is to help children build relationships and be co-operative rather than compliant. We want to work with the students to help them become part of the community.”

You can read media coverage in The Evening Chronicle, The Mirror and the Telegraph.


Conflict resolution programme improves wellbeing of pupils

Schools can significantly reduce the impact of bullying and improve pupils’ wellbeing by using a specialised system of conflict resolution and training, according to a ground-breaking study published in the Lancet.

The research, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London, was conducted over three years in state schools in the south of England, and is the first of its type to study the use of “restorative practice” within schools, bringing together victims and perpetrators of damaging behaviour.

The academics who wrote the Lancet study, including Professor Russell Viner, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, concluded that the £58 cost per pupil to run the programme was likely to achieve “significant impacts” in improving child health and mental wellbeing.

Professor Russell Viner said: “The message from this is that how we organise our schools to promote students’ welfare should be a key part of any response to concerns about children’s mental health.

“None of this was meant to be just about bullying – it was about informing and involving pupils in their school’s behaviour policies, and the use of restorative practices to resolve difficult behaviour.”

You can read more on this study in the Guardian.

Professor Becky Allen interview

Becky Allen,  Professor of Education at UCL Institute of Education and founder of Education DataLab, has recorded an extended interview for the Mr Barton Maths podcast. Becky has been a speaker at the Schools North East annual summit on a number of occasions. The discussions covered:

  • The TeacherTapp app, which is used to gauge teachers’ opinions on a wide range of topics.
  • The impact that “good” teachers make and how we might tell a good teacher from a not so good one.
  • Why teachers leave the profession.
  • The importance (or not) of teacher experience.
  • How do teachers find “good” schools to apply to?
  • If autonomy is motivating, how does this fit in with a move by some “successful” schools to provide centrally created lesson plans to their teachers?
  • Is teaching suited to deliberate practice?
  • How many hours do teachers work and how that time is spent?
  • How happy are teachers?
  • Why is it so hard to accurately measure student progress, and what mistakes does Becky see schools making?
  • How should schools really be dealing with the Pupil Premium gap?
  • The piece of research that most surprised her.

Listen to the full podcast here.

Black Holes Not Potholes

This week’s Talking Head comes from Andrew Ramanandi, Head Teacher at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Blaydon. 

Whilst the conversations in Whitehall seem inevitably centred around ‘Backdoors’ and ‘Brexit’, the discussions in many Gateshead schools keep turning from ‘Interim Assessment Frameworks’ and ‘EBACC Buckets’ to ‘Insufficient School Funding’ and I’m sure this is echoed around the region.

I am the Head of an oversubscribed primary school that has experienced flat cash into school for the last six years and this – combined with inflation, spiralling fuel costs and increased staffing costs – has exerted extreme pressure on my school budget which is moving from healthy surplus to potentially significant deficit with two years. Does this sound familiar?

I have also had the opportunity to sit on Gateshead’s Schools’ Forum alongside a number of fellow Head Teachers for the past few years. Here too, but on wider scale, we have seen the sufficient funding for schools across the borough be eroded to the point that the majority of schools are facing huge funding black holes by 2020/21.

For years Forum has been forced to make some incredibly difficult choices, trying to share out an ever diminishing cake, fully aware that each slice was proving less and less sufficient. It has become apparent that those difficult choices are now being made at school level and that the scale and scope of this is becoming widespread. As funding has become tighter, schools have had to cut back on:

 Teaching and non-teaching staff
 Support for more vulnerable pupils
 Small group work for children who are not thriving in school
 Teaching resources (parents being asked to pay for books and materials)
 Subject choices in secondary schools
 The range of activities for primary pupils
 Extra curricula activities provided free or subsidised
 Repairs to buildings
 Renewal of equipment

The current funding campaigns being run by all of the education unions, as well as Schools North East’s very own forthcoming #FundOurFuture campaign, all indicate that this issue of insufficient funding for schools is in existence to great extent across the country.

To this end, Heads across Gateshead took the unprecedented action of sending out a joint letter to all parents in April 2017. It referenced and warned parents of an impending funding crisis. This crisis is upon us and further efficiency savings (of which we have all made many) will not touch the sides when it comes to abating the funding shortfall we are facing; this is not about photocopying or toilet paper! If the current funding model does not change significantly then my full and oversubscribed primary school may cease to be viable.

Marches and summits across the country demonstrate an increased strength of feeling and a unified sense of the immediate need for action. Head teachers across Gateshead share this urgency and have adopted a twofold approach to try and affect change.
Firstly, we are raising awareness of the both the existence and the extent of the financial crisis facing our schools. We have written a letter (attached as a PDF below), signed by the chairs of our primary school, secondary school and special school head teacher associations, which details the impact of this crisis upon the quality of education we can offer. We are sending this letter out en masse on Wednesday 28th November and will publicise this widely on social media. This first stage of our approach also details our second approach which is one of mobilising action.

We have set up a petition on Parliament’s website and are asking parents and staff whether they feel Government should fund schools sufficiently and fairly, and if they do then could they please show their support by adding their name to the petition ‘Increase Funding for Schools’, as well as encouraging their family and friends to do so. The purpose of this is simply to give our elected representatives the very clear message that funding levels are currently unfair and inadequate and that we are putting pressure on them to make representation to the treasury to invest sufficient financial resource in the forthcoming spending review. The more signatories it attracts then the louder our voice will be. If we can get 100,000 signatories then our petition would be considered for debate in Parliament.

If you are a Head Teacher and this strikes a chord, then please sign our petition and consider encouraging the parents of your pupils to sign it too.

If you are a teacher or a teaching assistant and you are concerned about what you and your school are able to provide, then please sign our petition and ask your friends and family to sign as well.

If you are a governor being asked to make untenable decisions, then please sign our petition and support your head teacher in sharing this message.

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunty or uncle and are concerned about the impact on the quality of education afforded to the children in your family, then please sign our petition to protect their future.

If you feel that Government should fund schools sufficiently and fairly, and want to have your voice heard, then please add your name to our petition ‘Increase Funding for Schools’.If you feel that Government should fund schools sufficiently and fairly, and have already added your name to our petition, please amplify your voice by encouraging your family and friends to do so too.

Our children deserve the best possible education to enable them to be healthy, successful and happy in the future; our schools need sufficient resource to provide that provision.

If you would like to share your views on this, or would like to write a Talking Heads blog past, please email 

Education Links w/c 26th November 2018 – Chronicle Live, Amble school still requires improvement but is heading in the right direction, says Ofsted. – Chronicle Live, Exam pressure is making ten-year-old pupils ‘throw up’ before going into school. launch new education venture in Tees Valley – and beyond. – Darlington & Stockton Times, New school support staff statistics could risk ‘generalising’ roles. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Ripon schools merger and Bedale special school satellite scheme heralded. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Schools struggle to hire staff as thousands of teaching jobs re-advertised. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Children could practice drills for classroom terror attacks. – The Northern Echo, Alternative education overhaul in North Yorkshire defended. – The Northern Echo, ‘A black day’ as 360-year-old Arkengarthdale school looks set to close. – Hartlepool Mail, War Horse brought to life by pupils at Hartlepool secondary school. – Hartlepool Mail, Miles for Men wins a cash boost from Hartlepool school pupils. – Hartlepool Mail, Praise for rise in apprenticeship opportunities in Hartlepool ‘bucking national trend’. – Shields Gazette, Police probe continues after pupil takes unknown substance at a South Shields School. – Shields Gazette, Youngsters at a South Shields primary school celebrate prestigious sporting award. – Northumberland Gazette, Libraries ready to launch Christmas reading challenge.

Northumberland Council pitches academy takeover to Education Secretary

A recent article in the Northumberland Gazette has reported that Northumberland County Council has pitched to the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, to take schools back from academy control ‘to drive up educational standards’.

The story drew on points from a discussion at the family and children’s services overview and scrutiny committee during consideration of a report on educational outcomes, which was also pitched to the Education Secretary on his visit to the region for the announcement of Opportunity North East.

Councillor Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council said:  “We want to work with all schools in Northumberland, whether they are maintained or an academy, to achieve the highest standards of education for all children.  Overall results in Northumberland have been some of the best in recent times, however there is still a lot of work to be done.

“We are starting to see the first shoots of improvement, but as a council our focus remains on enabling fundamental change in education performance.”

You can read the full Northumberland Gazette story here.

Teacher Pay policy hurts disadvantaged schools says EPI

In July the Government announced the first teacher pay rise in eight years. The main pay scale rose by 3.5 per cent, the upper pay scale by 2 per cent and the leadership pay range by 1.5 per cent.

The DfE also simultaneously released details of a £508 million fund to be distributed over the next 18 months to cover part of the cost. This month we found out how the allocations would be distributed to schools.

The EPI’s research found that schools with small class sizes and high levels of disadvantage are less likely to receive enough funding to cover the cost of the pay rise.

This is because the funding is allocated on the basis of the number of pupils in a school. Disadvantaged schools are likely to have smaller class sizes and younger teachers on the main pay scale (due to increased problems with retention). As a result, they are more likely to receive insufficient grants to cover the additional costs.

Schools with fewer than 100 pupils receive funding on the basis of at least 100 pupils. This was likely put in place to protect schools with very small numbers of pupils and a high teacher to pupil ratio but also means that small schools with more typical staffing structures benefit significantly.

Read the full report here.