Board of Opportunity North East announced – Friday 7 December 2018

This week I highlight the announcement of the Board of education and business experts that will help to implement the Government’s £24 million investment in a region-led North East Opportunity area and the publication of Ofsted’s Annual Report for 2018.

Opportunity North East Board announced
At the beginning of the week Lord Agnew confirmed the board of education and business experts to help implement £24 million investment to raise school standards and aspirations in the North East. The expert board will help to run the Opportunity North East programme to build a coalition of schools, colleges, local authorities, businesses and higher education institutions to tackle the issues holding back young people in the region.

The group of twelve, which includes the Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, the Director of Schools North East, the Regional Schools Commissioner, the Chief Innovations Officer and Company Secretary of ATOM Bank, the Chief Executive of Tyne Coast College and the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University, met for the first time on the 3 December.

Opportunity North East will help young people in the North East to reach their potential through secondary education and beyond by:

  • building on good primary school performance to ensure more children continue to achieve at secondary school;
  • unlocking the potential of key secondary schools in the region by encouraging collaboration with schools, high performing academy trusts and local authorities;
  • working with partners such as Teach First to ensure there are more great teachers where they are needed most. The North East will be the first region in England to implement more support for newly-qualified teachers to encourage them to stay in the classroom, with £12 million for early roll-out of the Government’s improved offer from September 2020;
  • raising aspirations and tackling the barriers that prevent young people in the North East from realising their full potential, including accessing high-quality technical education and attending the best universities; and
  • making the most of young people’s skills and talents in the North East through harnessing the pioneering work of local enterprise partnerships to help them find a rewarding, secure job.

Publication of Ofsted’s Annual Report for 2018
This week Ofsted published its 2018 Annual Report and listed below are six key findings:

  1. There are too many children in ‘stuck’ schools – Chief inspector Amanda Spielman said that although inner-city sink schools have become largely a thing of the past there were too many pupils in “stuck schools”. Ofsted has identified 490 schools which have not been rated as good since 2005.
  2. The number of good and outstanding schools fell slightly this year – at the end of August this year 86% of schools were good or outstanding at their last inspection, compared with 87% of schools in August 2017. Outcomes are highest for special schools with 92% rated as good or outstanding, compared to 87% of primaries and 75% of secondaries. Of the 2,470 full inspections this year 7% were judged to be outstanding, 47% were judged to be good, 37% were judged to require improvement and 9% were found to be inadequate.
  3. Stark regional variation in children’s ability to read – Ms Spielman warned that children failing to learn properly created a cycle which meant they would not be able to read to their own children. She highlighted a regional imbalance in pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds performance in the phonics check with areas such as Newham and Newcastle performing well while disadvantaged children in more affluent areas like West Berkshire lagging behind.
  4. Assessing multi-academy trusts – Ofsted is continuing to push the DfE to allow it to make full inspections of multi-academy trusts (MATs) arguing that this is “one area where our inspection powers have not kept pace with changes in education”. In the meantime the inspectorate plans to continue to get round this with its batch inspections of schools in the same MAT., but these will now take place over the course of one or two terms rather than a single week.
  5. More scrutiny for schools suspected of off-rolling – Ofsted has found that 19,000 pupils were taken off school rolls between 2016 and 2017 with around half not appearing at other schools. Sean Harford, the inspectorate’s national director of education said around 300 schools had been identified with high numbers of pupil movement. He said these would be subjected to extra scrutiny and added that Ofsted is already highlighting off-rolling in inspection reports. Ofsted also said the new inspection framework it is launching next year will allow inspectors to better report on schools which off roll pupils.
  6. There is a shortage of good MATs – Ofsted has said that unless more good multi academy trusts are found the Government’s plan to deliver system wide school improvement through the academies programme will not be realised. The report says the halfway house approach to academisation is not working and the matching of schools to is “not happening anywhere near as quickly as the inspectorate would hope”. Ofsted said more outstanding schools and school leaders are needed to step up to the challenge of providing system leadership.