Schools North East Annual Summit 2022

10th October 2022

Our fourteenth Annual Summit took place at St. James’ Park on Thursday 6 October 2022. It was an insightful and thought-provoking day and an amazing opportunity to meet you all again. We asked all of our speakers to consider the theme this year of ‘reflect, reframe, reachout’.  Here are some of the highlights from the day:

Chris Zarraga, Director of Schools North East kicked off the Summit by reassuring delegates that this academic year will be far from boring or uneventful. He noted:

“There is no better time for us, as a community of NE schools, to Reflect, Reframe, and Reachout.  To Reflect so that we learn from the past and ensure we don’t make the same mistakes twice; to Reframe the debate so that the real issues that you face are understood and addressed; and to Reachout so that we don’t stand alone in the face of whatever the future may bring.

We’ve had five Secretaries of State in the last 12 months compared to nine in the last 12 years. One lasting only 48 hours in the shortest stint since 1783. But it is also very much worth Reflecting on the dignified, determined, and courageous way in which you and your colleagues rose to meet the often impossible demands made of you. I want to express how proud the Schools North East team is to have witnessed that at first hand. So whatever surprises this year may have in store for us, we know well in advance what the response will be from NE schools: Outstanding across the board.

There’s an old saying:  “You really CAN change the world, as long as you don’t want either credit or thanks.”  Too often, too many, especially in politics and the media, certainly seem to have taken that to heart as it seems that you and your colleagues rarely get either credit or thanks for your extraordinary contribution to our country and its young people.  You DO change the world, you most certainly deserve the credit, and Thank You is the least that either we or the wider world owe you for your efforts.”


In the morning, by way of Frankfurt, we were joined by Laura McInerney from Teacher Tapp who showcased data about teacher and school leader anxiety throughout the pandemic.   Laura highlighted that although we’ve seen a rise in feelings of anxiety due to uncertainty, the overall message is that the best days for us in education are never those that are certain.

In the afternoon, we heard from Natalie Perera, who looked in fine detail at data collected by the Education Policy Institute to highlight Recovery and Resilience. The data shows that there has been no significant change in the disadvantage gap between 2015 and 2020 and that the proportion of persistently disadvantaged students is on the rise. She noted that while she was at the DfE they often felt that the North East was an enigma, with high attainment for Early Years but levels dropping as students progressed through to Secondary level; illustrating a lack of understanding of how long term disadvantage impacts upon students.

Session Highlights

Lee Elliot Major OBE reframed the way we look at disadvantage in his session on improving outcomes for poorer students, post pandemic. The session had so much interest the School North East events team had to provide more chairs within the room for standing delegates. Clearly it was a topic that is on the mind of educators in the region.

Chris noted in his opening speech that:

“the disproportionate impact of covid on the NE’s communities, especially the most disadvantaged, will last for at least 10/ 15 years if not longer.  It will compound perennial issues that have affected our region for decades; issues still only partially at best understood by policymakers.  Our schools, staff and young people can ill afford any wasted efforts or resources because the problems you face are misunderstood.”

Similarly, Zoe Carr OBE spoke to a crowded room about how Wise Academies crafted their Primary curriculum. She gave the delegates a step-by-step account of how Wise approached and designed their curriculum, which secured two recent outstanding judgements by Ofsted.

Jo Heaton OBE spoke to our delegates about managing change through connection, highlighting the need for collaboration to facilitate meaningful change within education. Collaboration was also covered in a session by Nick Conway, Dame Maura Regan and Mary Tate, who proved collaboration across trusts can improve outcomes for curriculums.

Sam Freedman took the challenging topic of our current Education Policy and looked at how the new Ministers will approach policymaking and what will be happening to existing policy including the Schools Bill and the White Paper.

A panel chaired by Media Partner Tes saw Keynote speaker Natalie Perera joined by North East educators Christina Jones, Brendan Tapping and Andy Byers. The group took questions from the delegates and gave an open and personal viewpoint of the worries of educators in the region.

ONE Vision Panel

One of our panel sessions of the day, hosted by Professor Rob Coe, discussed the Opportunity North East (ONE) Vision project. Rob was joined by panellists Paul Green (DfE), Dame Maura Regan, Ruston Atkinson, Lesley Powell and Kate Reid. Together they shared their experiences and reflected upon this major school improvement programme.

Rob wrote a blog to accompany the panel which can be found here:

He noted:

“Of the 28 ONE Vision schools that all began with less-than-Good Ofsted ratings, 12 have been inspected since inspections resumed in September 2021: eight are now Good, one has gone from Inadequate to RI, three have stayed RI.

These numbers are slightly above national patterns for similar schools, but it is hard to interpret them as a clear improvement, much less to attribute any change to ONE Vision.

A more dramatic change can be seen in the proportion of secondary schools in the North East rated Good or Outstanding, which rose from 58% in September 2019 to 72% in July 2022 – the largest rise for any region.”

Reflections of the day

Sean Harris, Director of Performance at Tees Valley Federation, covered the Summit on Twitter noting that Schools North East is much more than an organisation or a pressure group lobbying policy makers, stating ‘we are a collective’, ‘a community’. Read the full thread here:

The event was also covered in the blog Educating Humans by John Smith, ‘10 Take-aways from the SNE Summit 2022’, which can be found here:

Prize Winners and Exhibition

A big congratulations to our Bingo Card winners.

Helen Gibbons – Gold prize
Tracy Tooley – Silver prize
Christine Brental – Bronze prize
Our prizes were very kindly donated by our sponsors this year, who helped us massively, as they do every year. As a charity, Schools North East is grateful to have such wonderful commercial and educational sponsors. Our exhibition this year was full of North East and nation businesses who support our vision. A massive thank you to our main sponsor, The Edwin Group.

Representatives from the Bank of England, launched their new classroom resource at the Summit. As part of this resource, every state school in the country will receive a copy of the book ‘Can’t We Just Print More Money’. Read more about the launch on our blog by clicking here :

After our final sessions, the DfE celebrated the winners of the Lord Glenamara Awards in the Sir Bobby Robson Suite. You can read more about the awards and the winners by clicking here :

We love to hear good news from North East Schools, to share your news with Schools North East please tag @SchoolsNE on Twitter or apply here: