local government
primary & secondary education

Raising Standards of Education Across the North of England

local government

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 15:50

Tuesday 30 April 2019

Central Manchester

This Forum will provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to hear the latest policy recommendations and initiatives from the DfE and other senior policymakers and discuss the key challenges surrounding reducing the education attainment gap of schools and academies in the North of England. Participants will also gain insights from leading practitioners and best practice case studies demonstrating proven methods of delivering high-quality education across the Northern Powerhouse.


This Forum is specifically designed for Maintained Schools, Academies, and Local Authorities. Typical job titles include:

  • Headteachers
  • Assistant and Deputy Heads
  • Principals and Vice Principals
  • Executive Principals
  • Chief Executive Officers
  • Directors of Academy Trusts
  • Directors of Education
  • Heads of Inclusion
  • Heads of School Improvement
  • School Improvement Managers
  • Heads of School
  • Governors
  • Heads of Learning Services

This Forum is also open to the Private and Voluntary Sectors to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Paul Cohen, Deputy Director, School Improvement and System Leadership, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education
  • Nick Hurn OBE, Elected Member, North of England Headteacher Board
  • Sean Finch, School Partnerships Manager, North, Ambition School Leadership
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments, and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Simon Thomson, Director, Centre for Innovation in Education, University of Liverpool (invited)


Morning Keynote: Improving Standards of Education Across the North

  • Examining the current landscape of education in the north, considering where the most progress has been made and which areas require targeted support
  • Outlining how funding from the £70m Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy Fund will be used to raise standards of education
  • Highlighting the impact that the Northern Powerhouse Education Fund has had on raising education standards so far and the challenges faced
  • Sharing the DfE’s next steps in implementing A Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy and improving education standards

Paul Cohen, Deputy Director, School Improvement and System Leadership, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education (DfE) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Addressing Educational Disadvantage through Effective School Leadership

  • Demonstrating how effective leadership contributes to raising attainment by discussing the results of its Teaching Leaders training programme
  • Focusing on developing strong leadership in schools through the charity’s programmes for middle, senior and executive school leaders to improve staff retention and attract stronger teaching talent
  • Emphasising the benefits of collaboration and knowledge-sharing between schools in improving standards, and how Ambition School Leadership facilitates this

Sean Finch, School Partnerships Manager, North, Ambition School Leadership (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Transforming the Quality of Education from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Outstanding’ in Three Years

  • Describing the journey that Parklands Primary undertook, going from being ‘Inadequate’ in 2014 to achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rated in 2017
  • Emphasising the importance of adopting a whole-school, inclusive approach to maths learning through the introduction of weekly competitions in times tables
  • Outlining how community involvement is vital to pupils’ progression in disadvantaged areas, inviting parents to meetings rather than sending letters
  • Working with local stakeholders to improve teaching outcomes and making the most of grants and funding available

Winners of the Collaboration Award at TES Awards 2017

Chris Dyson, Head Teacher, Parklands Primary School (invited)


Case Study: Providing Outstanding Secondary Education

  • Fostering a progressive learning environment focused around high expectations for achievement, and highlighting the role of sports and extra-curricular activities in improving academic performance
  • Cultivating a positive attitude to learning through careful monitoring, assisting pupils at risk of underachieving and giving special mentions for attendance and effort on Twitter, resulting in high attendance rates and exemplary behaviour
  • Tailoring the curriculum to be more flexible and meet all students’ needs, in recognition of the fact that learning continues beyond the school day
  • Sharing insights on supporting pupils with SEND and disadvantaged pupils on making above average progression rates

Elaine Renavent, Headteacher, Wickersley School and Sports College (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Working in Partnership to Improve Educational Standards Across the North

  • Outlining the progress made in terms of education and attainment across the North of England in recent years and the challenges that schools currently face
  • Discussing Opportunity North East and how the £24 million funding initiative will help to raise attainment and improve young people’s life chances
  • Emphasising the need to work in partnership to ensure that resources are shared and responsibility for pupils’ education does not lie solely with teachers
  • Pointing to examples of best practice in improving educational outcomes

Nick Hurn OBE, Elected Member, North of England Headteacher Board (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Providing High-Quality Education Through a Multi-Academy Trust

  • Working across the structure of a MAT to deliver consistently good education throughout
  • Sharing best practice and expertise across academies, for example through regular monitoring of teaching and learning
  • Creating a culture of high expectations and sustainable improvement, maintaining frequent visits from improvement advisors who help the schools to self-evaluate and identify areas for improvement
  • Working closely with the local authority to ensure that all schools are well supported to consistently improve the standard of education provided

Christopher Davis, Headteacher, The Oldham Academy North (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Driving Education Standards Through Evidence-Based Practice

  • Outlining the role of research schools in improving standards of education through effective evidence-based practice
  • Identifying clear evidence bases on interventions and strategies for school improvement, ensuring that evaluation is integrated into a school’s action plan
  • Sharing best practice and expertise with local schools and strategic partners to improve teaching practice across the Opportunity Area
  • Supporting schools to develop innovative teaching methods that enhance pupil engagement and further pupils’ understanding
  • Sharing insights from the latest research and outlining how funding from Oldham Opportunity Area board for two evidence-based programmes for the Autumn Term 2018 will be used

Dr Jo Pearson, Research Lead, Oldham Research School (invited)


Case Study: Supporting Schools to Raise Educational Standards: A Local Authority Perceptive

  • Outlining how the council supports schools to improve teaching standards by providing free online resources through the Lancashire Grid for Learning
  • Highlighting the process of raising attainment levels through promoting a collaborative community identity, and supporting schools to shape curriculum and governance policies
  • Sharing guidance on how councils can best identify key areas in which their schools need to develop, such as by establishing regular progress meetings, ensuring standards are constantly improved upon
  • Ensuring high standards across Lancashire through offering routes to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the North West and Lancashire GTP Consortium, which focuses on producing high-quality teachers

Amanda Hatton, Director of Children’s Services, Lancashire County Council (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

According to the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s February 2018 report, Educating the North: driving ambition across the Powerhouse, one in four Northern secondary schools are judged by Ofsted as inadequate or requiring improvement. While the North’s primary schools perform only slightly worse than those in London, at secondary school level the gap widens considerably, with Northern children 13 points, or one whole grade, behind at GCSE.

Through the government’s Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy, various programmes have been established to boost school performance. In October 2018, Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced a £24 million funding programme, Opportunity North East, to ease the transition from primary to secondary school and improve opportunities for children across the region. This is in addition to the £70m Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy Fund, first announced in 2016, which has led to the creation of maths hubs and boosting maths teaching in the North West, home learning trials for early years children in the North, and the Northern elements of a national English hubs programme.

Ensuring strong school leadership as well as the recruitment and retention of adequately qualified teaching staff are vital to improving standards of education across the North. The Government’s Opportunity Areas programme aims to address inequality in investment, but more work is needed to attract and retain the very best school leaders and teachers to serve the communities hardest hit. Employers also need to play a greater role in improving attainment and opportunities, by providing meaningful support through mentoring and apprenticeship programmes.

The NPP has called for the government to increase the number of good or outstanding schools in the North by 2022. It is clear that as well as targeted funding and support from the government, schools, local authorities and businesses must work together to tackle regional inequalities and create genuine parity in education and opportunities for children and young people across the North.

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