Subject: SCHOOLS NorthEast Weekly Update - Week 6

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
  • An invitation from the South Tyneside Association of Secondary Head Teachers to join them for their highly-regarded Subject Inset Day for teaching staff
  • Top tips on ‘improving schools with professional development’ from the Teacher Development Trust
  • Nominate a young person for the ‘Truth About Youth’ PoSBO Awards

Focus on…Gove in the spotlight

Yesterday it was Education Secretary Michael Gove’s turn to take to the stage at the Conservative Party Conference.  He was joined on the platform by a Head Teacher and a parent from a Free School in Birmingham, where the conference is being held.

Gove used his speech to attack the Teaching Unions, warning them not to let “ideology hold back our children” and borrowed a George Bush quote to suggest that they were guilty of the "soft bigotry of low expectations".

Much of the speech was focussed on of the level of inequality in outcomes in the UK Education system. which Gove described as a "dark secret" at the heart of English education. Gove accused the education system of writing off far too many children far too early, with the poorest most likely to be left behind.

Following a familiar line, the Education Secretary referred to a recent OECD report that stated that the UK has one of the most socially segregated education systems in the developed world. He described the system, in which he claimed only the elite progressed, as "economic madness" and stated that the most successful international education systems made sure that few failed to make the grade. A similar sentiment had been expressed in Chancellor George Osborne’s speech earlier in the conference when he said that Gove’s school reforms were the “single most important long term economic investment we can make”.

As expected Gove celebrated the expansion of the academies and free schools programme and highlighted the Department’s policies aimed at improving the quality of teachers. He also praised teachers describing their role as the ‘noblest of professions’ and explained new developments to increase the status of the profession.

The speech comes just after Conservative Chair of the Education Select Committee, Graham Stuart, criticised the Department for Education reforms as ill-conceived and called on the Education Secretary to slow down the pace of change.  He suggested that “his rapid agenda for change” has led to “incoherence, with urgent time lines (for implementation) which can’t be done”.

There were no major new announcements in Gove’s speech and much of the media coverage  focussed on his new Michael Cainesque glasses! But press reports over the weekend reignited speculation that Gove could be a possible replacement for Prime Minister David Cameron.

Unsurprisingly, the speech was strongly criticised by the Unions.  NUT General Secretary Christine Blower responded  by accusing Gove of hypocrisy, stating, “the Secretary of State says that schools are best run by teachers, and yet he is giving academies and free schools the freedom to employ those without qualified teacher status.”

What’s your view? Do you agree with Gove’s attack on the Unions? Do you think that the pace of change is too fast or is the speed of reform necessary? Which of the political parties has presented the most compelling vision for education at the party conferences, or have you been too busy running schools to even hear what they have had to say? Let us know your view email

Local news by area





North Tyneside



South Tyneside



Top national education news

Admission appeals

The Department for Education has recently released information about appeals lodged by parents against non-admission of their children to their preferred school in 2010/11. They detail the number of appeals lodged, heard and the outcome. For a full breakdown click here.

Canteens and staffrooms left out of new building regulations

The Government’s new guidance on school building regulations – stretching to just three pages –makes no mention of school canteens, kitchens or staff rooms. The Department for Education (DfE) insisted the new measures were intended to remove pages of bureaucratic restrictions that will make it easier and cheaper to provide new school places.

A DfE spokeswoman said: "These changes simply remove unnecessary duplication that created more work for schools. Recent statistics show that 99 per cent of secondary and 73 per cent of primaries have their own kitchens, an increase since last year."

She added: “It is totally unnecessary to regulate on staffrooms. It should be up to head teachers to organise their schools as they want. We want to reduce red tape and to encourage a more flexible approach to school building.”

But critics claimed that the slimmed down regulations will lead to a drop in standards.

Children 'spend more time watching TV than at school’

Leading psychologist Dr Aric Sigman has warned that by the age of seven, a child born today will have spent a full year glued to TV screens. He estimated that the average 10-year-old has at least five screens readily available to them at home, and over the course of childhood youngsters spend more time watching TV than they spend in school. Limiting the amount of time children spend in front of a screen could have significant advantages for their health and wellbeing, suggests Sigman.

Twigg proposes debt-write off plan for new teachers

Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg, wants teaching to be "an elite profession for top graduates". In his speech to the Labour Conference last week, Twigg revealed that high-flying students could have part of their tuition fees paid off in exchange for becoming teachers in deprived areas. However, with money tight, Twigg says it is just an aspiration at this stage and the details are still being worked out.

What else we learnt this week…

Resources and Opportunities

Nominate a young person: ‘Truth About Youth’ PoSBO Awards

The Truth About Youth PoSBO Awards celebrate the positive achievements of young people in the North East in a unique ceremony organised by other young people.

There are 8 different awards that can be won and anyone between the ages of 11-25 can be nominated. Young people, parents, teachers and youth workers can all submit nominations of groups or individuals they feel deserve an award. To nominate a young person please contact Laura Iveson; or call 0191 4404410.

The award ceremony will take place at the Centre for Life in Newcastle on 11 December between 6.30-9.30pm and is free of charge. Refreshments, food and entertainment will be provided.

Top tips on improving schools with professional development

The most effective school leaders and governors prioritise improving teaching and learning over finances, curriculum, and policies. Research has shown that focusing on the high-quality professional development of teachers produces greater achievement gains than anything else, and the Teacher Development Trust (TDT) can help you implement this in your school.

The following tips should help you to improve your school through effective CPD:

  1. Bookmark and share , a free national database of the most effective CPD courses, consultancy services and resources. The site allows you to rate entries for their impact on classroom practice as part of your regular in-house evaluation and quality assurance, but then this is shared with schools around the country.
  2. Sign up for free Associate Membership of the National Teacher Enquiry Network (NTEN) and get half-termly newsletters containing top advice and guidance on creating the most effective professional learning.
  3. Subscribe to the TDT blog and follow the TDT Twitter page to keep up to date with the latest research and guidance, such as the recent TESpro feature on how to make CPD effective.

The Chief Executive of TDT, David Weston, will be speaking at the SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit. Book your place today!

SCHOOLS NorthEast Venue Finder for schools and businesses

SCHOOLS NorthEast has recently launched a new Venue Finder to help schools and educational organisations access high quality venues easily and to offer venues a way of promoting their offer to the education market. Click here to see the Venue Finder now.

Venue Finder is free for schools to both access and advertise on, and is open to commercial venues for a small fee. Simply email for further details.


SCHOOLS NorthEast Events:

SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit – 19 October at St James Park

The Summit is fast approaching and looks set to be the biggest and best yet! Book your place now before we sell out. Delegate places cost just £80 for Primaries and £100 for Secondaries with discounts for SCHOOLS NorthEast Enhanced Members and group bookings.

To find out more and to book your place now please click here or email

Rescheduled Governor Event: Collaboration, conversion, coercion and confusion – 25 October

We have rescheduled our Governors’ event after being forced to cancel it last June due to the floods!

Join us, along with leading law firm Dickinson Dees, for the first in a series of free twilight sessions for school governors.   The event will be an opportunity to find out more about the changing education landscape and explore the questions and issues facing governing bodies over the coming months.

The free event will now take place at Stockton Education Centre (TS20 1PR) on 25 October between 6pm and 8pm and is free (multiple delegates from each school are welcome.) To book a place please email or call 0191 204 8866

Other Events:

Subject Inset day for teachers – 19 October

South Tyneside Association of Secondary Heads would like to invite 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 programme will feature high quality guest speakers.

The inset day will take place on 19 October 2012from 9am to 12.30pm and cost just £50 (plus VAT).  To find out more please email .

‘Closing the Achievement Gap’ seminar – 6 November

Do you want to hear about successful approaches to closing the achievement gap? Would you like to visit a school that is producing excellent outcomes for all children? Do you want to consider what research and evidence about approaches to narrowing the gap tells us? If so then the National Education Trust will be hosting a seminar on ‘Closing the Achievement Gap’.

The event will take place on Tuesday 6 November at Oakdene Primary School in Stockton-on-Tees, between 9.30am and 1.00pm. Please click here for more information and click here for online booking. The cost of attending is £10 per delegate. If you have any queries please email: 

Creativity Conference - What can schools do to improve their creative vision in times of austerity? – 16 November

If you want ideas and inspiration on how to boost creativity in your school despite Government changes and funding cuts head to Creativity, Culture and Education’s one day conference on 16 November in Sunderland. The event aims to stimulate debate around the creativity agenda and provide participants with practical ideas for using creative techniques in schools.  .

Aimed at teachers, creative practitioners and other professionals involved in creative learning, as well as anyone with an interest in creativity, the event will build upon CCE's experience in running the Creative Partnerships programme in the UK.

The conference will take place at the Media Centre, University of Sunderland and National Glass Centre in Sunderland and SCHOOLS NorthEast Members can get a special discount. Simply quote SNE2012 when you book to secure your place for the reduced rate of £140 plus VAT.

To book email

Wise words…

"The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year."

John Foster Dulles
Former US Secretary of State

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