SCHOOLS NorthEast response to the Green Paper consultation "Schools That Work For Everyone"

13th December 2016

On 12 September the Department for Education released a new Green Paper entitled “Schools That Work For Everyone”. This contained a range of proposals with the aim of creating “an education system that extends opportunity to everyone, not just the privileged few”.

Given the impact these proposals could have, SCHOOLS NorthEast submitted a response to this consultation on behalf of schools across the region.To do this effectively, we held a consultation workshop open to all school leaders where representatives of faith schools, selective schools, independent schools and universities gave presentations on the role they see themselves playing within state education. It also included discussions around the proposals and how SCHOOLS NorthEast should reply. Prior to the consultation deadline we also published a survey regarding the key proposals and asked school leaders to complete it and ensure that we produced a strong and representative response.

Based on all of the above, SCHOOLS NorthEast submitted the following to the Department for Education consultation:

Q1. How can we better understand the impact of policy on a wider cohort of pupils whose life chances are profoundly affected by school but who may not qualify or apply for free school meals?

SCHOOLS NorthEast would welcome a greater focus on pupils from lower-income families who either do not qualify or do not apply for free school meals. Many in this group face the same challenges as their peers in receipt of free school meals but without the additional support.

The Government needs to better define the group of pupils that sit just above FSM in socio-economic terms. From this, two potential approaches would be:

  • Treat the group as a single cohort and compare it over time and against other cohorts. This could provide some insight, but would only provide a very broad-brush understanding.
  • To fully understand the impact of policy on this – or any other – group, the Government would have to engage with these pupils and their teachers in a more meaningful way. This approach would take both more time and more money, but would provide a much more accurate and nuanced picture.

Whilst we welcome a greater focus on this group, we are very disappointed that the consultation makes no mention whatsoever of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. For a Green Paper titled “Schools that Work for Everyone”, this is a massive oversight. The proposed policies – particularly the return of selection – would have a major impact on this group, but the Government has not provided any evidence that this has been taken into consideration.

Q2. How can we identify the ‘just about managing’ pupils?

Before members of this group can be identified, the Government needs to arrive at a much more specific definition of who this group is. The definition offered in the Green Paper is unsatisfactory in a number of respects. These are apparently “ordinary families, who have a job but do not always have job security; have their own home, but worry about paying the mortgage”. Leaving aside the problematic issue of what exactly the Government considers an “ordinary” family to be (and by extension which families the Government would consider not to be ordinary), the emphasis on home ownership is unusual. What about the millions of families who worry about paying the rent and for whom home ownership may seem a distant dream? According to the Government’s English Housing Survey 2014-15, 37.4% of private renting households were families with children. Moreover, home ownership varies greatly from region to region, with research from the Resolution Foundation earlier this year showing that one part of our region – Tyne and Wear – has the lowest levels of home ownership (56.5%) outside inner London. If the Government intends to exclude all renting families from their definition of “just about managing”, they should provide a clear justification for this decision.

The Green Paper later goes on to say that the target group are “those falling just above the eligibility threshold for free school meals”. This is a far better definition but again lacks clarity as to how far above the eligibility threshold is “just above”. How this is defined will make a big difference to how the group can be identified. For instance, if a pupil’s “just about managing” status is determined solely on the basis of parental income then the only appropriate method to identify this group would be to find out what a pupil’s parents earn. This could potentially be problematic, particularly if there is no incentive to disclose this sensitive information.

Another alternative would be to develop a new cohort measure. SCHOOLS NorthEast welcomes the Government’s acknowledgement that the existing methods for “judging how schools support families of modest means” are flawed. As the Green Paper notes, these measures – whether of those in receipt of free school meals (FSM) or eligible for Pupil Premium (PP) – capture a relatively small number of pupils from lower-income backgrounds. They also promote false equivalence of schools with very different contexts. For instance, there may be two schools each with 20% of FSM-eligible pupils. This headline measure suggests that the two schools are similar but only tells us about one fifth of pupils in the school.

In order to address this issue, a new cohort measure could be used. For the purposes of this discussion we can call this the Socioeconomic Intake Profile or SIP. This would use pupil postcodes as a proxy for socioeconomic background and match these postcodes to the IDACI scores for the Lower-layer Super Output Area (LSOA) in which the postcode is located. This would then produce a profile of the intake of a school based on the proportion of pupils living in postcodes in each quintile. To return to the example of the two schools with 20% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals, their SIPs might be 12-9-26-27-26 and 34-37-19-8-2; in other words, completely different. This provides much more context than current measures and is a very non-invasive option as it uses existing datasets. Pupils from families who are “just about managing” could be defined as those in the lower two quintiles.

Like any data-based cohort measure, this would be far from perfect. Whilst it would work well for much of the country, in some areas – and particularly in parts of London and other large cities – LSOAs are very socio-economically-diverse, with low-income and high-income families living in very close proximity. As such, some pupils would be misidentified as “just as about managing”, whilst some lower-income pupils may be missed because they live in a relatively affluent LSOA. Similarly, IDACI is imperfect as it is a 5 year measure and thus does not take into account recent societal changes in a neighbourhood. Any cohort measure will have similar difficulties and some school leaders have questioned the overuse of cohort measures given that they fail to give any wider context.

Q3. What contribution could the biggest and most successful independent schools make to the state school system?

The contribution that any independent school could make to the state school system will differ greatly from one school to another, and will not necessarily be determined by their size or success –however this might be defined. There is a strong feeling among North East school leaders, in both the state and independent sector, that sponsoring or setting up schools in the state sector is not the best way for independent schools to contribute.

The Government strongly implies that independent schools and independent teachers are superior to state schools and state teachers. This kind of rhetoric – which runs throughout the Green Paper in one form or another – is very divisive and fails to take into account the different contexts in which these schools operate. Instead of setting up state schools and independent schools as competitors, we would encourage the Government to do more to facilitate genuine collaboration between sectors. Real partnership is incredibly beneficial to both sides, but this comes from being a relationship of equals, with a recognition that there are fantastic schools and teachers in both sectors and that both sectors can learn from each other.

There are a number of examples of good practice in this area within the North East. For instance, the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle has played a leading role in addressing mental health in schools, including through SCHOOLS NorthEast’s schools-led mental health commission Healthy MindED. Similarly, Newcastle High School for Girls has engaged very actively with state schools around building confidence for girls. Many independent schools across our region also share resources with state schools; for instance, Durham School makes its swimming facilities available to local state schools.

Independent heads would be the first to recognise that their expertise does not lie in setting up or running schools in the state sector. Where independent schools feel that they have something to offer in this area, then they should be encouraged to do so. However, it is not clear how forcing independent schools to do something that they have no experience or expertise in will necessarily lead to an increase in the number of good state school places. There is also a real capacity issue in terms of the ratio of independent to state schools and the geographical spread of independent schools.

There is greater support for an increased number of bursaries, but again there is a real issue around capacity. Very few independent schools have the kinds of surpluses available that they could easily fund a significant increase in the number of bursaries that they are able to offer. Where schools do have this capacity we would welcome them providing more bursaries, but the Government should understand that this may be unrealistic for the vast majority of these schools. As one Head noted, the Government appears to be operating on the mistaken assumption that independent schools “are staffed to profligate levels, have more than ample assets and enjoy such a surplus of teachers, leaders and cash that they can dip into neighbouring schools, academies or MATs” and in most cases this is simply untrue.

Q4. Are there other ways in which independent schools can support more good school places and help children of all backgrounds to succeed?

We acknowledge that some independent schools do become isolated from the wider schools sector – not necessarily by design – and more should be done to ensure they demonstrate engagement. One way of ensuring this, could be to require independent schools to publish a brief statement on their website about this work, outlining which state schools they work with, the form that this work takes, and the impact that this has had. This could be similar to the information that state schools have to publish on Pupil Premium. This could be assessed either by the Charity Commission or the Independent Schools Inspectorate, depending on which would be more appropriate.

Rather than sponsoring or setting up state schools, independent schools could establish twinning relationships with state schools, in recognition of equal partnership. This could focus on key areas – such as careers and character education – where independent schools may have additional resources or expertise. This could, for instance, make alumni links and some of the wider extra-curricular opportunities that independent schools are able to offer available to state school pupils.

This approach would allow independent schools to work together with state schools in their areas to determine how best to collaborate to ensure more good school places and help children of all backgrounds to succeed. Mandating centrally the exact form that these relationships should take is not the best way of ensuring that independent schools offer what is useful in their area.

Q5. Are these the right expectations to apply to all independent schools to ensure they do more to improve state education locally?

Of these proposed requirements, the two most popular among state school leaders in our region were supporting teaching in minority subjects and providing greater access to facilities. Both of these are areas where independent schools have something very tangible to offer that many state schools are unable to offer to their pupils. However, what is clear from our discussions with both independent and state schools is that what independent schools can offer and what state schools require differs greatly from case-to-case. As such, the most appropriate expectation that could be placed on independent schools is that they get together with local state schools to discuss how best they can collaborate. This would ensure that independent schools really are working towards improving state education locally rather than completing an expensive tick-box exercise which may not have any real impact.

Q6. What threshold should we apply to capture those independent schools that have the capacity to sponsor or set up a new school or offer funded places, and to exempt those that do not?

As outlined in our previous responses, school leaders in our region do not believe that independent schools should sponsor or set up a new school. However, if the Government wishes to establish a threshold to divide independent schools on the basis of capacity, then it should work closely with these schools to better understand the factors that determine this capacity. Headline measures such as pupil numbers, academic results and turnover may not give the complete picture of the capacity that an independent school has to take an active role in running schools or providing a significantly higher number of fully-funded bursaries. Indeed, the Government may find cheap oakleys that only a relatively small group of independent schools has sufficient room in their budgets to fund the kind of activities that it has in mind for the “biggest and most successful independent schools”.

The Government notes that independent schools “are increasingly out of reach” of many families due to increasing fees. If the thresholds are set incorrectly, there is a good chance that schools will have to raise their fees even higher to meet new budgetary demands. This may not be a problem for the Government, but it is worth keeping in mind.

Q7. Is setting benchmarks the right way to implement these requirements?

Setting benchmarks is a sensible way of implementing new requirements, provided that the requirements being implemented are the correct ones. We have concerns in this particular instance that the benchmarks have not been fully thought through and will fail to take into account the context in which many independent schools are working. The Government should work with both the independent and state school sectors to ensure that these benchmarks do not end up being an ineffective blunt instrument.

Q8. Should we consider legislation to allow the Charity Commission to revise its guidance, and to remove the benefits associated with charitable status from those independent schools which do not comply?

Until the precise nature of the benchmarks and thresholds are outlined, it is too early to say whether such legislation should be considered. However, it is important that the Government keeps in mind that the Charity Commission is a regulator and not an inspector.

Q9. Are any other changes necessary to secure the Government’s objectives?

SCHOOLS NorthEast would encourage the Government to focus more on what would actually work to improve outcomes for pupils of all backgrounds, rather than to be distracted by the red herring of school structure. We would ask the Government to focus instead on:

  • Addressing the serious issues around teacher recruitment and retention.
  • Providing better support for schools to pursue evidence-based practice.
  • Making high quality leadership development pathways more accessible, both geographically and financially.
  • Implementing a truly fair funding formula which does not further entrench geographic inequality.
  • Redefining schools success beyond PISA rankings.
  • Investing more in high quality early years education.
  • Supporting schools to deal with the emotional wellbeing and mental health of pupils and staff.

Q10. How can the academic expertise of universities be brought to bear on our schools system, to improve school-level attainment and in doing so widen access?

Two things were very clear from our consultation with school leaders across the region; that universities could play a vital role in improving school-level attainment, and that sponsoring or setting up schools in the state sector is not the best way to achieve this. The real expertise of universities is in research and this is where the real opportunities lie.

Schools in the North East are very keen to collaborate with universities on research that would be useful within the school environment – whether this relates directly to teaching or to other relevant areas, such as mental health. This kind of collaboration would be mutually beneficial and has the potential to have a far greater positive impact on school-level attainment than universities setting up or sponsoring their own schools.

The cost of university research is the greatest barrier to closer working between schools and universities. As such, the Government should consider providing more funding to universities and schools to collaborate on research and to make any findings free for all schools to access. We believe that this is the real opportunity.

This is not to say that universities should never be involved in the running of schools. Where a university believes that it has the capacity and capability to successfully contribute to the running of a school then this should be encouraged. For instance, the University of Sunderland has been very successful as one of the sponsors of UTC South Durham. However, we oppose the proposal that this should be compulsory, as this is not where universities’ real expertise lies. As one head in the region pointed out, it is very unlikely that the Government would ever propose that successful primary or secondary school leaders take over struggling HEIs or establish new universities.

Q11. Are there other ways in which universities could be asked to contribute to raising school-level attainment?

Universities can play a key role in contributing to raising aspirations, which can be a key driver for school-level attainment. It is important to expose children to higher education settings and professionals from an early age, and we would welcome increased school outreach work and projects that bring school-aged pupils – both primary and secondary – into contact with universities, perhaps with a particular focus on the most disadvantaged children and young people. It should be noted that “encounters with further and higher education” is one of the eight Gatsby benchmarks for good careers guidance.

Q12. Is the DFA guidance the most effective way of delivering these new requirements?

The Government should work with universities to determine if this is the case.

Q13. What is the best way to ensure that all universities sponsor schools as a condition of higher fees?

As mentioned above, school leaders in the North East do not believe that universities should sponsor schools as a condition of higher fees.

Q14. Should we encourage universities to take specific factors into account when deciding how and where to support school attainment?

We believe that it is very important that universities reach out beyond the areas in which they are located. Universities are disproportionately in cities and larger towns and it is understandable that they would be particularly keen to work with schools in their immediate surroundings, and indeed many already do. However, this would be to neglect some of the schools that could benefit most from greater university collaboration, for instance those schools that are located many miles from their nearest university.

A good starting point to identify appropriate schools to collaborate with would be to use the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) data which measures how likely young people are to participate in higher education according to where they live.

However, we also think that universities should be open to collaboration with any school that has an interest in conducting a particular piece of research.

Q15. How should we best support existing grammars to expand?

School leaders in the North East are categorically opposed to the reintroduction of grammar schools. We are strongly opposed to the £50 million annual capital investment to support the expansion of grammar schools that was announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement. Grammar schools are disproportionately concentrated in more affluent communities. Meanwhile the North East – which has no grammar schools – is currently underfunded by £45 million annually compared to the national average. This underinvestment is likely to continue if the national funding formula is implemented in the form that it is currently proposed. This is having a very real and negative impact on teaching and learning in our region, as schools cut back on staff, resources, curriculum and additional support.

If the Government is serious about having “schools that work for everyone” and expanding “radically the number of good school places available to all families”, there are many ways that this £50 million a year could be used more effectively to reach these goals. We welcome the new funding announced by the Secretary of State on 30 November and think that this approach is a far better way of ensuring a greater number of good school places than giving money to a small number of schools that are, by their very nature, not “available to all families”.

Q16. What can we do to support the creation of either wholly or partially new selective schools?

There is no credible evidence base to support the notion that grammar school have, or ever will, deliver a school system that benefits all pupils regardless of background. The Education Policy Institute found in their research into grammar schools and social mobility that “additional grammar schools would be likely to lead to increases in the aggregate attainment gaps between rich and poor children”. As the Government itself acknowledges, pupils eligible for free school meals are massively underrepresented in grammar schools and there is evidence that there is “an association with poorer educational consequences for those pupils not attending selective schools in areas where selection is allowed”.

It is worth going through some of the claims that the Government makes to support the case for expanding selection, as we believe that they reveal major flaws in the argument that grammar schools can become “engines of academic and social achievement for all pupils, whatever their background, wherever they are from and whatever their ability”. We would first like to acknowledge that the Government is correct in stating that “the evidence on grammar schools is based on the selective system as it currently operates”. However, the Government should not dismiss evidence on this basis.

One of the claims that the Government makes is that “grammar schools are popular with parents”. This argument is often used by grammar school supporters, but according to YouGov survey data from August 2016, only 38% of the English public would support the creation of more grammar schools. No doubt the Government would point to data from the same survey which showed that 67% of parents would send their children to a grammar school if they passed the relevant test. This is not surprising; it is undoubtedly true that parents like the idea of their children attending grammar schools in the abstract; parents rightly want their children to go to good schools and grammar schools have a reputation for being good schools. However, what this figure does not capture, is how this 67% would feel about grammar schools when their children do not pass the admissions tests (and most would not). Anger from parents whose children did not get into grammar schools was what led to them becoming so unpopular in the 1950s and 1960s and their consequent demise. We would ask the Government to keep this in mind and also to note that the supposed popularity of grammar schools has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not they are good for social mobility.

The Green Paper notes that “many selective schools are employing much smarter tests that seek to see past coaching and assess the true potential of every child”. The Prime Minister expanded on this in her speech at the British Academy on 9 September; after admitting that “there is no such thing as a tutor-proof test”, she went on to say that “many selective schools are already employing much smarter tests that assess the true potential of every child [so] new grammars will be able to select in a fair and meritocratic way, not on the ability of parents to pay”. The logic in this argument is flawed – the Prime Minister first acknowledges that more affluent parents will always be able to pay for their children to be tutored to pass tests and then arrives at the conclusion that grammars will no longer select “on the ability of parents to pay”. There is clearly a logical disconnect between these two statements, which the Prime Minister attempts to bridge by invoking “smarter tests”.

We should expect, then, that these “smarter tests” would result in the intake of the grammar schools using them to more closely reflect the communities that they serve. This is not the case. For instance, the fully-selective county of Buckinghamshire now uses the so-called “CEM test”, developed by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University. This test is meant to mitigate the effects of private tutoring and is more closely based on the national curriculum that all children study at primary school.

However, evidence suggests that the proportion of Buckinghamshire state school pupils who passed the test actually decreased after the introduction of the test. It seems that the more “tutor-proof” a test is made, the more time and money affluent parents will put into tutoring. As such, these tests may have the effect of widening the gap between tutored and untutored children and should certainly not be seen as the silver bullet for delivering a system where pupils are selected “in a fair and meritocratic way, not on the ability of parents to pay”. It is telling that Professor Robert Coe, director of CEM, said, “I wouldn’t support the expansion of grammars on the grounds of social mobility”.

The Government claims that it is not proposing “a re-introduction of the binary or tripartite system of the past”, but fails to explain satisfactorily how this would be avoided. The proposals that the Government makes to ensure that the creation of new grammar schools will also “increase the number of good and outstanding places in non-selective schools” are for these grammars to set up a non-selective school, partner with an existing non-selective school in a MAT or “sponsor a currently underperforming and non-selective academy”. Yet again the Government is trying to divide schools on the basis of type and yet again the Government is working on the patronising assumption that grammar school leaders are inherently better than non-selective leaders – and these grammar schools do not even exist yet. It seems that the Government has given very little consideration to the impact that introducing grammars into non-selective areas will have on existing non-selective schools and the millions of children who attend them.

The Government cites – repeatedly – the 2008 Sutton Trust report that “found no adverse effects of existing grammar schools on GCSE results for pupils in other schools”. It is concerning that the Government sources this report so extensively – footnoted in four different ways – whilst referring to any research that weakens their case anonymously as “studies”. A number of these “studies” have demonstrated that grammar schools have an adverse impact on the educational attainment of pupils at nearby non-selective schools. For instance, Education Datalab have shown that “children who attend non-selective schools in selective areas (secondary moderns) make less progress than they otherwise would” and also that grammar schools act as a drain on local resources. It is clear that the only way that the Government can prevent the re-emergence of the binary or tripartite system is not to re-introduce grammar schools. Secondary moderns will be secondary moderns regardless of what other names are given to them.

Given all the evidence that grammar schools do not improve social mobility – but rather impede it – it is very disappointing that the Government is pursuing this policy. The impression the Green Paper gives is that the Government has worked backwards from the intention to lift the ban on new or expanding grammar schools. SCHOOLS NorthEast agrees that the Government should expand the number of “good school places available to all families”, but this should be the starting point for policy-making, rather than a clumsy justification for a policy that has already been determined.

Q17. How can we support existing non-selective schools to become selective?

We do not believe that existing non-selective schools should be allowed to become selective. Indeed, this proposal is particularly concerning. It seems likely that only Good or Outstanding comprehensive schools would be allowed to convert into grammar schools. This would therefore have the impact of placing the Good or Outstanding education that these schools provide out of the reach of thousands of children and young people who would previously have had access.

Q18. Are these the right conditions to ensure that selective schools improve the quality of non-selective places?

As outlined in our previous response, there is no evidence that selective schools improve the quality of non-selective places.

Q19. Are there other conditions that we should consider as requirements for new or expanding selective schools, and existing non-selective schools becoming selective?

We do not believe that existing selective schools should expand, that new selective schools should be established, or that non-selective schools should become selective, regardless of conditions or requirements.

Q20. What is the right proportion of children from lower income households for new selective schools to admit?

We are opposed to the establishment of new selective schools for the reasons set out in our previous answers. It would therefore be inappropriate for us to suggest that there is a “right proportion of children from lower income households” for these schools.

Q21. Are these sanctions the right ones to apply to schools that fail to meet the requirements?

We do not support the return of selection.

Q22. If not, what other sanctions might be effective in ensuring selective schools contribute to the number of good non-selective places locally?

We do not support the return of selective education.

Q23. How can we best ensure that new and expanding selective schools and existing non-selective schools becoming selective are located in the areas that need good school places the most?

We do not support the return of selective education.

Q24. How can we best ensure that the benefits of existing selective schools are brought to bear on local non-selective schools?

One radical solution that the Government could consider would be to turn these existing selective schools into non-selective schools. This way, the benefits of these schools would be available to all, regardless of their ability to pass a test.

Q25. Are there other things we should ask of existing selective schools to ensure they support non-selective education in their areas?

There are currently no selective schools in our region.

Q26. Should the conditions we intend to apply to new or expanding selective schools also apply to existing selective schools?

To reiterate, we are in favour neither of establishing new selective schools nor of supporting existing selective schools to expand. Whilst there are no selective state schools in our region, we would not be opposed to introducing stricter requirements on existing grammar schools elsewhere.

Q27. Are these the right alternative requirements to replace the 50% rule?

The first two suggestions seem very sensible, although there would have to be very clear requirements for the evidence to prove that there is demand for school places from parents of other faiths. The Government should arrive at a robust method of determining genuine demand – if this takes the form of “local consultation and signatures” as the Green Paper suggests then there should be a clear process for the form of consultation, how many signatures should be required and how to authenticate these signatures. We welcome the twinning proposal, but any twinning arrangements should be more than tokenistic and the Government should consider what requirements would ensure that any such relationships are genuine partnerships and not merely tick-box exercises.

We have more concerns about the final two proposed requirements. Whilst the verbs used in the first two suggestions are strong and action-oriented – “prove” and “establish” – these two other requirements would only ask schools to “consider”. This is effectively saying that school-proposers should “think about” these options, but does not necessarily link to any concrete actions. It is not clear how being asked to think about doing something with no expectation of action can be considered “strengthened safeguards to promote inclusivity”.

Furthermore, the third suggestion works on the Government’s assumption that faith schools are inherently superior to non-faith schools. This is another example of rhetoric that seeks to divide schools and set them against each other on the basis of school type. The Government is right to note that faith schools on average achieve better results for their pupils, but should also take into account that there are significant differences in intake between faith and non-faith schools. Indeed, recent research by the Education Policy Institute found that almost all of the attainment gap between faith schools and non-faith schools can be explained by pupil background. The division that the Government is making between schools on the basis of faith status is not useful and once again distracts from what most matters in education.

Q28. How else might we ensure that faith schools espouse and deliver a diverse, multi-faith offer to parents within a faith school environment?

The vast majority of faith schools already “espouse and deliver a diverse, multi-faith offer to parents within a faith school environment”, but a number of scandals – most notably the so-called “Trojan Horse” scandal in Birmingham – have highlighted that this is not always the case. The autonomy that the school-led system provides limits the extent to which the Government can enforce the delivery of a multi-faith offering. This was highlighted by Sir Mike Tomlinson following his investigations into the “Trojan Horse” affair. However, one option that the Government could consider would be how to incentivise having more staff from outside the faith.

Q29. Are there other ways in which we can effectively monitor faith schools for integration and hold them to account for performance?

It is very difficult to monitor a faith school for integration, other than perhaps by implementing no notice compliance inspections.

Q30. Are there other sanctions we could apply to faith schools that do not meet this requirement?

Removing the right to admit on the basis of faith seems the most sensible sanction. It is vital that all schools are welcoming to pupils of all faiths or none, and that they promote values of inclusiveness and tolerance to prepare pupils to live in modern Britain. This last point is reflected in the Department’s guidance on promoting British values, one of which is “a mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those with no faith”.

There should be strong sanctions for any school that does not provide an environment that is tolerant and welcoming to all pupils. If the school in question is a faith school, then we would support removing the right to admit on the basis of faith. There may also be situations – for instance where a school is actively promoting disharmony or intolerance of others – where even stricter sanctions should apply to both the school and the staff involved.

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