Subject: SCHOOLS NorthEast Weekly Update - Week 2

SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit 2012

Our update goes out to every Head Teacher in the North East weekly, but if anybody else in your school or LA would like to receive the Update, please send their name and email address to

In this Issue

  • A round up of all the latest local and national education news
  • Details of the SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit 2012
  • Free wall planner for Academies 2012/ 13 from Clive Owen & Co LLP
  • Launch of Town End Teaching School Alliance
  • Twig World launches a new site for KS3 and GCSE - Free three-week trial

Focus on… how the UK's education compares internationally

Today, the OECD launched its latest ‘Education at a Glance’ report, comparing educational indicators across developed nations.  Most of the media coverage in the UK has focussed on the finding that UK schools are among the most ‘socially segregated’. These latest figures (relating to 2010) reveal that the UK has unusually high levels of "segregation" in terms of poorer and migrant families being clustered in the same schools, rather than being spread across different schools.

Other key findings include:

UK has better social mobility than the OECD average

41% of 25-34 year-olds in the UK have attained a higher level of education than their parents, compared with an OECD of 37%, while 13% have not achieved at least the same level as their parents (downward mobility) (the OECD average is 13%). 

Socio-economic background and educational outcomes still strongly linked

The study finds that the impact of socio-economic background on student performance at age 15 remains moderate to strong in the UK and suggests that this signals significant scope for improvement.

UK has significantly increased spending education

Expenditure on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary students by educational institutions increased by 50% between 2000 and 2009, even as student enrolments declined by 11% over the same period, as a result expenditure per student increased by 68%.

Expenditure on these levels of education as a percentage of GDP increased from 3.6% in 1995 (below OECD average) to 4.5% in 2009 in the UK, higher than the OECD average of 4.0%. At the same time, however, results from PISA show no improvement in student learning outcomes.

Despite a decline in the UK’s GDP between 2008 and 2009, expenditure on education grew by 10.5 percentage points, 2.2 percentage points more than the OECD average.

UK students study for long hours

Students in England receive an average of 7258 hours of instruction time between the ages of seven and fourteen which equates to 396 hours more than the OECD average of 6862 hours. Virtually all of that time is compulsory.

Classes in the UK are comparatively large at the primary level but comparatively small in secondary education

The average public primary school class has about 26 students, more than the OECD average of 21 students per class. But private institutions in the UK have significantly smaller classes of around 12 students.

At the lower secondary level, the average public school class in the UK has 21 students while the average class in private institutions has 15 students. Both public and private institutions have smaller classes than the OECD average of 23 students in public institutions and 22 students in private institutions.

Primary school teachers in England teach fewer hours while upper secondary teachers have a comparatively heavy teaching load

The number of teaching hours per teacher in English public schools averaged 684 hours per year in primary education (the OECD average is 782 hours)

703 hours in lower secondary education (the OECD average is 704 hours), and 703 hours in upper secondary education (the OECD average is 658 hours) in 2010

Teachers are well-paid in comparison to teachers in other OECD countries

For primary school teachers with at least 15 years of experience, statutory salaries in the UK average £28 000, above the OECD average of £23 800. The statutory salaries of lower secondary school teachers with at least 15 years of experience are also higher than the OECD average.

Between 2000 and 2010, period, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary teachers' salaries increased 9% in England.

The UK has a notably young teaching force

The UK has the highest proportion of teachers below the age of 30 among OECD countries and a large proportion of teachers between the ages of 30 and 39.

61.4% of primary school teachers are younger than 40 – a significantly larger proportion than the OECD average of 41.1%. Only 38.6% of primary school teachers in the UK are 40 or older, compared to the OECD average of 58.3%.

England has one of the highest degrees of school autonomy among OECD countries…

In 2011, schools in England had the greatest decision-making authority, after the Netherlands, among all OECD countries (35 percentage points higher than the OECD average) in 2011.

…but the share of decisions taken at the school level has declined.

At the same time, the trend in England shows a decrease in the percentage of decisions taken at school level, from 85% in 2003 to 75% in 2011.

The UK spends less than average on pre-school children

In 2010, the UK had one of the highest enrolment rates in early childhood and primary education among four-year-olds but annual expenditure per pre-primary student is less than the OECD average.

Education pays in the UK

After direct and indirect costs are taken into account, the earnings and employment benefits that accrue over the working life of an individual with an upper secondary education in the UK amount to a net present value of £88 000 – the 4th highest value after that in the United States, Ireland, Korea and the Slovak Republic 

…while the penalties for those without baseline qualifications are severe.

Individuals without an upper secondary qualification, equivalent to five good GCSEs or an equivalent vocational qualification, saw a marked drop in the employment rate by 3.3 percentage points, from 59.3% in 2008 to 56% in 2010 – greater than the OECD average decrease of 2.5 percentage points.

In addition, the earnings disadvantage for individuals without an upper secondary education grew during the economic downturn. In 2008, individuals without an upper secondary education earned 29% less than individuals with that level of education, but in 2010 they earned 33% less.

Education levels in the UK are increasing at a faster rate than the OECD average

In 1997, 41% of 25-64 year-olds in the UK had not attained an upper secondary qualification (five good GCSEs or an equivalent vocational qualification). By 2010, this proportion had decreased to 25%, slightly below the OECD average of 26%. This represents a drop of 16 percentage points over 14 years, compared with an average decrease of 11 percentage points across OECD countries

The UK also had the 3rd highest university-level first-time graduation rate in 2010, with 57% of women and 45% men expecting to complete university-level education over their lifetimes.

Another report launched this week, ‘A long division: closing the attainment gap in England’s secondary schools’ by the IPPR think tank, also examines how the education system in England compares with other countries, including Finland, Canada and Korea. The authors conclude that it is the large number of very low achievers that is holding England back from becoming a world class system, citing that in the world’s leading systems 1 in 10 pupils fail to reach basic proficiency in reading but in England that figure is twice as high.  

The report calls for a greater focus on pupil level intervention, highlighting the approach of Finland, where nearly half of pupils receive some form of catch-up tuition over the course of their school career. In Finland, only 8 % of pupils fail to reach basic proficiency in reading, compared to 19% in England.

As the researchers calculated that around half of the achievement gap at age sixteen was already present when those pupils started secondary school, they also recommend a greater emphasis on programmes in primary school and early years.

Further reading

You can download the full OECD report here

If you like data then check out the Guardian’s datablog for lots of statistical comparisons and graphs comparing countries.

Top local news

Further comment on controversial merger of Tynemouth schools

The controversial decision to merge a private school in Tynemouth with a state-funded primary has been widely reported in the regional and national media.

King’s School in Tynemouth recently announced that they intended to join forces with Priory Primary to become The King’s Priory School from September 2013, dropping its £9,000-a-year fee to become state-funded. The merger has spilt opinion with some parents, local MPs and Councillors voicing their concerns regarding the plans.

Latest academy figures in the North East

Figures out last week from the DfE reveal that 282 academies open this month, taking the total number nationally to 2309. A record 130 sponsored academies opened in September, taking the  total number of sponsored academies to 501.

In the North East there is significant variation between local authority areas with regards to the number of academies now open. Hartlepool still has no academy schools  while in neighbouring Darlington, 24 schools now have academy status.

21 schools in the North East are now sponsored academies with the figure set to rise as the Department continues in its programme of targeting ‘underperforming schools’ to become sponsored academies.  A full breakdown of the numbers and types of academy schools by local authority is available here.

School buildings cuts an issue! - local Head in the TES

The axing of the Building Schools for the Future Programme means that the state of school buildings remain a sore point in some parts of the North East. A recent survey of more than 2,000 teachers, conducted by TES and ITV's Daybreak programme, revealed that one in five respondents felt their classrooms were unfit to teach in, while more than a quarter said that they would not want their own children to attend their school because of its state of disrepair.

Bringing to light an issue which many will find all too familiar, Julie Scott, Head Teacher of Thomas Walling Primary School, Newcastle, said that she has seen her maintenance pot significantly reduced. "In the past we have received over £30,000 every year in the capital fund, but that has been cut quite drastically and we now only get £7,000, which goes nowhere when we think of the things we need to replace," she said.

Dilapidated, leaking and impossible to heat (TES)

Local news by area

At SCHOOLS NorthEast we scour the local press to find out the latest news from our schools however some stories inevitably slip past our beady eyes! Please keep us in the loop and share your news stories by emailing




North Tyneside


South Tyneside

Stockton on Tees



Top national news

Ofqual defend their position in front of Education Select Committee

The Education Select Committee met earlier today to investigate the problems with this summer’s GCSE results. Ofqual’s, Glenys Stacey defended her organisation’s role stating, "We played our proper part.” However, ASCL General Secretary, Brian Lightman told MPs that there have been "major flaws" and “unfairnesses” in this year's GCSE English grades.

The Select Committee’s session followed revelations from the TES, which published leaked letters between Ofqual and Edexcel showing that the regulator had “demanded that the exam dramatically toughen up its GCSE English grade boundaries despite strong protests from the Board”.

Tomorrow, Education Secretary Michael Gove has his regular appearance in front of the Education Select Committee where he will undoubtedly face questions on this issue from the select committee members.

To view the session in full please click here.

Children 'too embarrassed' to pick up books, study says

Researchers have warned that young people are increasingly shunning reading books in favour of other activities such as television and games consoles.  Data published by the National Literacy Trust shows that just three in ten children aged eight to sixteen years old now read every day in their own time compared with four in ten seven years ago.

According to the latest study, one-in-six children admitted they were too embarrassed to read in front of their friends for fear of being labelled a geek.

What else we learnt this week…

Resources and opportunities

Do you have a great idea for bringing science to life in schools?

The Royal Society’s Partnership Grants scheme provides grants of up to £3,000 for science projects run at a primary or secondary school or college in partnership with a professional scientist or engineer.

This is an excellent source of continuing professional development (CPD) as teachers get the chance to work alongside practising scientists and engineers, allowing them to keep up to date with cutting-edge research. A Partnership Grant can also allow schools to buy specialist scientific equipment, to be used not only for the initial project but for years to come.

To find out more and utilise this opportunity please click here. The closing date is 2 November 2012.

Apply to become a Specialist Leader of Education

Are you or do you know an outstanding middle or senior school leader with a particular area of expertise and the capacity, skills and commitment to support others in similar positions in other schools?

The National College’s application process is now open for Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE). There is no cost to apply and successful applicants will be entitled to some training at no cost to their school. To see the eligibility criteria and to apply please click here. Applications will close at midnight on 30 September 2012.

Twig World launches new site for KS3 and GCSE - 50 free films available now

SCHOOLS NorthEast supporter Twig World have just launched a new website chock-full of short videos and other resources for teaching maths, science and geography at secondary schools. There are over 50 films available completely free in these subjects at The original resource Twig Science, which launched last year, won the BETT Award 2012 and the Education Resource Award 2012 for Best Secondary Digital Content.

All SCHOOLS NorthEast schools can access a free three week trial to all the Twig resources for their whole school now. Visit and teach with Twig today!

The MOVE Physical Activity and Wellbeing Project - Durham University

Durham University are looking for secondary schools to take part in an exciting new wellbeing research programme called the MOVE project. The MOVE project aims to determine the effectiveness of two school based approaches on student’s physical activity and feelings of wellbeing. The project team have designed two complimentary approaches (i.e. Geography and peer-coaching) that not only aim to educate children about healthy lifestyles and the impact of their environment on their behaviour, but also to change their activity habits.

They are now recruiting schools in the North East region into the main trial and have a limited number of places available. To find out more and to take part please email Ash Routen, Research Associate, School of Education, at or visit

Free Wall Planner for Academies 2012/13

With so many important dates to remember this free wall planner, created by Clive Owen, can help you keep on top financial and tax deadlines as well as company information filling dates.

Click here to download today.


SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit – 19 October at St James Park


Now in its fourth year, the SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit is the annual event bringing together the North East's school leaders and leading educationalists and decision makers to discuss the issues, practice, challenges and opportunities that will shape education now and in the coming years.

Delegate places cost just £80 for Primaries and £100 for Secondaries with discounts for SCHOOLS NorthEast Enhanced Members and group bookings.

To find out who will be speaking and to book your place now please click here or email .

Woodham Teachmeet – 20 September

Join the Woodham Teachmeet later this month! A TeachMeet is an informal gathering of like-minded teachers coming together to present to, and learn from one and others classroom practice including practical innovations and personal insights in teaching. Participants volunteer to demonstrate good practice they've delivered over the past year, or discuss a product that enhances classroom practice.

The event will take place at Woodham Academy in Newton Aycliffe and is free of charge. For further information and to book your place please click here or email

Procurement – a legal and financial headache or an exciting opportunity for your academy? – 25 September 2012

Are you aware of the contractual obligations you may encounter when buying goods and services for your academy? Have you considered how to ensure you maintain cashflow levels and how to monitor credit limits?

Clive Owen LLP are holding an event in conjunction with the Department for Education and Blackett Hart and Pratt Solicitors that will give you all the information you need to ensure you implement an effective procurement strategy and avoid any headaches.

The event will take place at Teesside University, Darlington Campus, between 4.00pm and 6.00pm and will include a light buffet. To reserve your place contact Clive Owen by calling 01325 349700 or email

Launch of Town End Teaching School Alliance – 12 October 2012

Town End Teaching School Alliance will be holding a launch event to give schools the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the National Picture and how this is being addressed locally through the Teaching Schools. It will offer opportunities for asking questions, meeting the Strategic Partners and give information on how to join this Alliance. Steve Munby (NCSL) will be joining the event to give a keynote session.

The event will take place at the Stadium of Light and is free of charge. To book your place email or click here.

Subject Inset day for teachers – 19 October 2012

South Tyneside Association of Secondary Heads would like teachers from across the region to join them for their highly-regarded Subject Inset Day. Different subjects will be hosted by different secondary schools in South Tyneside and the schools will feature high quality speakers

The inset day will take place on 19 October 2012 between 9am and 12.30am and cost just £50 (plus VAT).

To find out more please email

One minute manifesto

In a new feature for this year, SCHOOLS NorthEast is asking Head Teachers and influential figures across the region to give us their one minute manifestos for North East education.  If you were in power what would be your priority for change, what one thing would make the most difference to your school and who should make the decisions for education?

Tell us your views in no more than 180 words or invite us to come to film you delivering your manifesto at your school– email

Quote of the week…

"Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism."
David M. Burns

Have a great week!

If you have any issues you would like to see covered in the Update, or any other comments, I would love to hear from you at the above address.