Friday Update – 22 January 2016

This week I highlight the new website to help prevent extremism in children and young people, North Tyneside’s success with the publication of the latest GCSE performance data and the DfE’s first symposium on character education.

Earlier this week saw the launch of a new website (Educate Against Hate) by the Department for Education, offering advice on preventing extremism for parents and teachers. Further measures were also announced to protect children in and out of school including:

  • a significant escalation of Ofsted investigations into unregistered, illegal independent schools, following the closure of 3 unregistered schools in Birmingham before Christmas;
  • a new tougher approach to prosecuting illegal unregistered schools, including publishing details of when the government will take forward prosecutions and a call to local authorities to identify any settings of concerns that Ofsted can follow through, with a commitment to strengthen closure powers;
  • a consultation on registering children that go missing from school, improving information shared between schools and local authorities, to reduce the risk that children taken out of school go missing, following Ofsted inspections of schools in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham last year.

The latest GCSE performance tables were published this week and whilst almost 65% of pupils in our region scored 5+A*-C grades at GCSE level, this was below the national average of 66.5% in the latest performance tables.

The great news is that the highest performing Local Authority area in the North East is North Tyneside, where 72% of our pupils achieved 5+ A*-C grades. We also topped the national average of 91% for 5+A*-G grades by 1.8 percentage points.

Yesterday the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan hosted the Department for Education’s first character symposium, discussing what excellent character education looks like. Listing traits as “those qualities that enhance us as people: persistence, the ability to work with others, to show humility in the joy of success and resilience in the face of failure. Character is about being self-aware, playing an active role within communities. It’s about selflessness and self-discipline as well as playing a full role in society.”

The DfE is currently building the evidence base to develop the best approaches and will look to the Character Awards as a gold standard as to what works in character education. An online digital platform will be provided where teachers can share best practice about character education, evaluate new ideas and find online professional development materials – as well as sharing their own data to build a proper evidence base.