North East Devolution and Levelling Up

Special help for schools in six North East areas

Six council areas in the North East are to receive special help under a Schools White Paper: Opportunity for All published today which aims to support children in all parts of England who fall behind in reading, writing or maths.

The government will make £86m available to grow and strengthen multi-academy trusts over the next three years, with a particular focus on 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs), which include County Durham, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Twenty-four of the EIAs which have some of the highest rates of disadvantage in the country, including Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, will additionally share £40m for bespoke interventions to address local needs, such as high absence rates.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi pledged that any child in the country who falls behind in maths or English will get the support they need to get back on track

Schools will identify children who need help, provide targeted support via a range of proven methods such as small group tuition, and keep parents informed about their child’s progress.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the Parent Pledge would support the government’s levelling up mission for education, set out in the Levelling Up White Paper published last month, for 90% of primary school children to achieve the expected standard in Key Stage 2 reading, writing and maths by 2030.

In 2019, only 65% of children achieved this standard, with the Covid pandemic exacerbating challenges.

A second ambition for secondary schools aims to see the national average GCSE grade in both English language and maths increase from 4.5 in 2019 to 5 by 2030.

The Schools White Paper sets out a series of new measures to support the delivery of these ambitions, including:

  • Schools will offer a minimum school week of 32.5 hours by September 2023;
  • Ofsted will inspect every school by 2025, including the backlog of ‘outstanding’ schools that haven’t been inspected for many years;
  • By 2030 all children will benefit from being taught in a school in, or in the process of joining, a strong multi-academy trust, which the DfE said would help transform underperforming schools and deliver the best possible outcomes for children
  • At least £100m to put the Education Endowment Foundation on a long-term footing so they can continue to evaluate and spread best practice in education across the country

If achieved, the wider benefits of pupils in 2030 meeting the Key Stage 2 and GCSE ambitions are estimated to be worth at least £30bn each for the economy, said the DfE.

Mr Zahawi said: ‘This is levelling up in action. The Opportunity for All White Paper will deliver for every child, parent and family, living anywhere from rural villages, to coastal towns through to the largest cities, by making sure all children have access to a school that meets our current best standards, harnessing the incredible energy and expertise of the one million people that work in schools.

‘Any child who falls behind in maths or English will get the support they need to get back on track, and schools will also be asked to offer at least a 32.5 hour school week by September 2023.

‘We know what works in schools and we are scaling up to ensure that every child can expect interesting, enriching lessons. Parents rightly expect a world class education for their children and that is what we will deliver.’

The complete White Paper is available here.