local government
primary & secondary education

Education Across the North: Raising Attainment and Outcomes for Pupils and Young People

local government

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 16:20

Thursday 30 April 2020

Central Manchester

This Forum will provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to hear the latest developments from the Department for Education and other senior practitioners to improve education and reduce the attainment gap between the South and North of England. Participants will engage with leading schools to explore different ways to enhance the quality of education by taking an evidence-led approach with clear action plans, and offering enrichment experiences and viable progression routes to encourage pupil participation and improve outcomes across the Northern Powerhouse.

This Forum is specifically designed for Maintained Schools 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, System Leadership and Strategy Directorate, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education
  • Anna Round, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Public Policy Research
  • Bobbie Mills, Senior Researcher, Education Policy Institute
  • Councillor Janine Bridges, Cabinet Member for Education and Economy, Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Marie Jobson, Education Manager – North, Careers and Enterprise Company
  • Nadine Peacock, Director of Transition, Sirius Academy North and David Gordon, Assistant Vice Principal and Director of Transition, Sirius Academy West
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments, and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Anna Round, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Outlining the Government’s Strategy to Boost Education Across the North

  • Assessing the current education landscape across the North, including improvements in the attainment gap and better transition from KS3 to KS4, and identifying areas that still require targeted support
  • Examining key strategies to help raise performance and attainment levels through improved social mobility and bespoke support in disadvantaged areas, such as the Opportunity North East and ONE Vision Schools programmes
  • Sharing the outcomes achieved within the Northern Opportunity Areas in relation to the Department for Education’s strategy for the Northern Powerhouse
  • Elaborating on the recent funding announcement for six new teaching school hubs from February 2020 and exploring how this will provide school-to-school support to strengthen staff recruitment and retention and raise pupil outcomes in the lowest performing areas

Paul Cohen, Deputy Director, System Leadership and Strategy Directorate, Early Years and Schools Group, Department for Education (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Improving School Leadership to Raise Educational Standards and Outcomes

  • Outlining the role of the Headteacher Board in informing the decisions of National and Regional Schools Commissioners and ministers to improve funding to schools
  • Discussing Opportunity North East and how the £24 million funding initiative will help to raise attainment and improve young people’s life chances, particularly with regards to Secondary schools
  • Addressing teacher workload and retention challenges in education and discussing current initiatives to ensure teachers are supported through the Education Mutual absence management service
  • Providing best practice guidance on how to improve teaching and learning in the North, especially for pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds

Senior Representative, North of England Headteacher Board (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Better Together - Promoting Collaboration to Safeguard Pupils and Raise Standards of Education in the North

  • Taking a multi-agency approach to safeguarding and encouraging good parenting to ensure a positive impact on engagement in learning and attainment
  • Collaborating with local schools to implement the £1 million ‘Better Together’ project which will provide them with a social worker who will identify and support children at risk of difficulties
  • Trialling the project in 7 schools, resulting in improvement in attendance and punctuality, and a 5% increase of children making expected progress in reading, 14% in writing and 11% in maths
  • Working with the Research School and expert practitioners to explore how best to involve parents and carers, for example through evidence-based initiatives that will enhance parental engagement in children’s education

Councillor Janine Bridges, Cabinet Member for Education and Economy, Stoke-on-Trent City Council (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Putting Academic Excellence at the Centre of Curriculum Design to Ensure Outstanding Pupil Outcomes

  • Sharing Teesdale School’s journey from a poor Ofsted inspection in 2015, to the 2019 inspection that ranked the school Outstanding in all areas as a result of a strong pastoral care and a high-quality curriculum
  • Outlining the importance of committed and highly aspirational leadership to improve the quality of teaching, ensure rapid and sustained student progress and outstanding outcomes
  • Discussing how the sixth form was transformed to provide an outstanding quality of education for students following the 16 to 19 study programmes
  • Elaborating on how the school has achieved attendance above the national average and low exclusions by creating a supportive and exciting learning environment, and developing an aspirational and well-planned curriculum
  • Effectively using the Year 7 catch-up premium to ensure pupils who enter school with lowest standards of attainment receive highly personalised and bespoke support

Clare Ellis, Headteacher, Teesdale School and Sixth Form (invited)

North East State Secondary School of the Year – The Sunday Times Schools Guide 2020


Case Study: Effectively Preparing Pupils for the Transition from Primary to Secondary School

  • Exploring Sirius Academy North’s transition programme in place which supports all KS3 pupils to transition to secondary school as seamlessly as possible
  • Outlining how the Academy identifies potential strategies and initiatives to address the barriers to effective transitions, such as creating a nurturing environment for new pupils
  • Encouraging new pupils to familiarise themselves with the new school, staff and ethos through primary school visits, subject-specific workshops, support sessions as well as transition weeks and summer school
  • Discussing how prioritising primary to secondary transition can positively impact pupil outcomes and can help bridge the attainment gap

Nadine Peacock, Director of Transition, Sirius Academy North and David Gordon, Assistant Vice Principal and Director of Transition, Sirius Academy West (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Facilitating Partnerships Between Schools and Employers to Enhance Social Mobility

  • Considering the impact of Opportunity Areas on promoting social mobility, and how the CEC has worked with employers and schools in these areas to develop opportunities for disadvantaged pupils
  • Highlighting the vital importance of developing a robust pathway from education to employment, as well as the positive impact that careers education can have on shaping and supporting the ambitions and aspirations of young people
  • Summarising the 2019 first year report on Careers Leaders in Secondary Schools, including the need for SLTs to work closely with careers leaders and how to effectively embed career guidance in a school strategy
  • Sharing best practice in effectively utilising the Gatsby Benchmarks, including the Compass tool to assess performance and highlight areas for development, with 91% of careers leaders surveyed now having used the tool
  • Understanding how to build meaningful and sustainable connections with local employers, to ensure pupils who undertake experience opportunities gain tangible benefits

Marie Jobson, Education Manager – North, Careers and Enterprise Company (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Understanding and Addressing the Disadvantage Gap Across the North

  • Analysing the Education in England Annual Report 2019 which examines the progress made in closing the educational attainment gap, and sharing key findings relating to the North
  • Exploring how the gap has changed since 2011 and how it varies across the country, and identifying the challenges that each region is facing both at primary and secondary levels
  • Exploring solutions to tackling the large and well-established disadvantage gap in the North, where poorer pupils are trailing their peers by over 2 years by the time they finish their GCSEs

Bobbie Mills, Senior Researcher, Education Policy Institute (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Adopting Cost-Effective Solutions For Re-Engaging Excluded Children

  • Hosting the REAL Alternatives Hub in partnership with the GLA to support more than 200 vulnerable children in mainstream schools and Alternative Provision Academies with blended and individualised evidence-based initiatives
  • Identifying and connecting AP schools and a wider network of professionals across the North West of England who are passionate about re-engaging young people in education
  • Providing ‘Inclusion profiles’ for children, schools and families designed to enable reintegration into mainstream education via specialist social/emotional support
  • Collaborating with other schools beyond normal networks to create new leadership opportunities and develop innovation capability

Ruth Browne, Director of Early Intervention, TBAP Multi Academy Trust (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Encouraging and Supporting Pupils to Access and Succeed in Further and Higher Education

This session will explore the North East Collaborative Programme (NECOP) and FutureMe programme which aim to raise aspirations and encourage pupils from targeted wards to access higher education opportunities through innovative methods such as online peer-to-peer tutoring to support attainment raising; mentoring by undergraduate students to raise aspirations and help young people understand what higher education is really like; and self-confidence workshops and career advice clinics. 

Kate Murray, Head of Regional Partnerships, North East Collaborative Programme (invited)


Case Study: Raising Standards of Teaching and Driving Students to Succeed through Outstanding Leadership

  • Becoming the first secondary free school to be judged outstanding in every category by Ofsted in January 2014 as a result of strong leadership
  • Creating a culture of success through the operation of strict routines and protocols, an unwavering focus on results, and by offering outstanding teaching and support
  • Discussing how participating in the Future Leaders programme has equipped the school leadership team with the key skills, knowledge and strategies to improve teaching and learning
  • Achieving well above average scores in all areas compared to the local authority and England averages, such as 63.1% of students achieving grade 5 or above in English and maths GCSEs, and 94% staying in education or entering employment after KS4

Luke Sparkes, Executive Principal, Dixons Trinity Academy (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

Most disadvantaged pupils in the North are now almost two years behind students in the South by the time they finish their GCSEs, despite the Government’s effort to increase productivity in the region and address the attainment gap with the Northern Powerhouse strategy. Indeed, a 2019 Education Policy Institute Report on Education in England found that the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more advantaged peers had stopped closing.

The Department for Education recently announced funding for six new successful Teaching School Hubs to support struggling schools from February 2020. In their latest efforts to tackle the gap and raise outcomes, the hubs will help poor performing schools to boost professional development opportunities for teachers, improve school-to-school support and strengthen staff recruitment and retention.

Initiatives to raise education standards through improved social mobility in the North were implemented in 2017 as part of the Opportunity Area programmes. Building on this, the Opportunity North East Strategy also invested £24 million to improve education and employment outcomes for young people in the region, whose outcomes at the age of 16 are lower than elsewhere.

Key findings from EPI’s Education in England 2019 Report, show noticeable albeit small improvements have been made across primary schools with the attainment gap of disadvantage students narrowing by 0.3 months since 2017, with disadvantaged pupils being 9.2 months behind by the time they leave primary school. However, the picture at is less positive at secondary level, with the gap slightly widening by 0.2 from last year. Additionally, the same report has established that over recent years, there has been a dramatic slowing down in the closure of the disadvantage gap to the extent that the five year rolling average now suggests that it would take 560 years to close the gap.

It is crucial that teachers and senior leadership come together to implement changes that will support the most disadvantaged pupils and those at risk of failing, by creating a safe school environment, providing engaging and inspiring lessons and progression paths, and deliver an education deemed to be good or outstanding by Ofsted. This combination of actions will create a genuine parity in education and opportunities for children and young people across the North.

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