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North East LEP supports conference aimed at inspiring next generation of female leaders

Hundreds of schoolgirls from across the region gathered at Northumbria University on Monday 16 September to attend Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG), one-day biennial North East Women (NEW) Leaders Conference.

Supported by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership through its North East Ambition initiative, the conference brought together female leaders from both within and outside the region to share their knowledge and experience with the aim of challenging gender inequalities and inspiring young women to take a leading role in whatever career or profession they choose.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, said: “This event provided a great opportunity for young women to hear first-hand about the career journeys of exceptional, hard-working and brilliantly successful females.

“We want all young people to be ambitious about the career opportunities that await them, no matter what their background or gender. Through our North East Ambition programme, we’re supporting schools and colleges across the region to offer a range of high-quality careers activities and experiences and achieve the government’s Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks.

“North East Ambition also links schools and employers more closely together, to identify and meet the skills demands of the future and support our aim of driving an uplift of 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.”

Speakers at the event included Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute; Debbie Edwards, CEO of FDisruptors; and Sarah Glendinning, Regional Director of the CBI.

The young delegates attended a series of Power Up Workshops offering tools to boost the girls’ futures, focusing on areas such personal branding, jargon busting and getting the best out of people. They also explored what leadership looks like now and in the future, and how they can develop their own personal authentic leadership attributes.

The North East LEP’s North East Ambition programme aims to ensure all North East schools and colleges achieve the government’s Good Career Guidance Benchmarks by 2024. By doing so, every young person should have access to excellent careers guidance that enables them to identify routes to a successful working life, make more informed decisions about their future and be better prepared for the workplace.

For more information, visit www.northeastambition.co.uk.

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Education Secretary Damian Hinds challenges employers and universities to seek out all the talent in the North East.

As the Education Secretary today, (8 October 2018), launches a £24 million programme to increase opportunity for communities in the North East of England, Andrew Hodgson, Chair, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP),  said:

‘The North East LEP is committed to reducing the gap between our best and lowest performing secondary schools and to improving social mobility for our young people.

“While we have the second highest proportion of outstanding schools, we also have the second highest number of schools rated less than good after Yorkshire and the Humber. It’s this disparity that we are tackling by supporting teachers, governors, schools and leaders. Ensuring the next generation has a clear pathway to achieving their full potential is a fundamental part of our Strategic Economic Plan.

“I am delighted with today’s investment announcement and recognition by the government of our ambition to drive up student attainment levels.  This funding will allow us to accelerate and build on our existing activity in this area and make a real difference to the lives of each and every young person in the North East.”

Read the full details of the funding announcement.

To learn more about Education Challenge, the North East LEP’s goal to reduce the gap between our best and lowest performing schools and to reach a target of all schools achieving a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ OFSTED rating, email: [email protected]



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In conversation with North East LEP chair, Andrew Hodgson

The North East economy is front and centre of Government investment this week aimed at capitalising on our industrial strengths and building our infrastructure.


A series of announcements to coincide with the Government’s Cabinet meeting at the Sage Gateshead brings the prospect of new high quality jobs in the energy sector, faster more frequent journeys on the East Coast Main Line and extra funding and responsibilities for Local Enterprise Partnerships to help drive regional economic growth.

It represents a real vote of confidence in the North East and the course of action it is pursuing to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024 through investment into sectors of high business growth opportunity.

The Government announcements recognise the pioneering work being carried out in the North East to embed innovation into our economy.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult at Blyth will benefit from part of a £180m funding package over the next five years to bolster its cutting edge research and development activity.

The energy sector is a real North East success story and the North East LEP has just appointed Andrew Clark to lead work in this sector to help maximise its potential.

His knowledge and expertise as sector programme lead will be invaluable in bringing together public and private sector organisations to create a far reaching energy strategy.

A commitment by Government to invest £780m into major upgrades on the East Coast Main Line – to be completed by the early 2020s – is a great first step in giving passengers faster, more frequent journeys, which is in turn great news for new and existing businesses through improved connectivity to markets.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also announced that the North East is among six areas around the country being asked to develop local industrial strategies to create more opportunities and growth.

The national LEP Review was also published on Tuesday which is a welcome move by Government. It provides clarity on the role of LEPs going forward and reinforces the benefits of a strong business voice in leading strategic economic policy and investments. Government are making available an extra £20m to LEPs to help deliver these roles including the new local industrial strategies.

The fact that these strategies will be developed across LEP areas is extremely positive and will support the on-going delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan.

The North East LEP is recognised by ministers as a strong LEP and we are well positioned to meet the roles and opportunities set out in the review.

The Government also confirmed it has laid legislation in Parliament to make the £600m North of Tyne Devolution Deal a reality and the LEP is fully supportive of devolution in the North East in order to bring more local powers and decision making to the region.

However, it is also very important to note that the North East LEP remains committed to working with all seven local authorities to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan with the goal of creating more and better jobs across the region, and to develop the new local industry strategy together for the region.

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US-style industry learning shines in North East classrooms

An Industry Alignment Project piloted by the Edge Foundation at Newcastle’s Excelsior Academy has proven such a success, it will now be rolled out to two new year groups.

Focused on equipping young people with the skills they need to reach their full potential, the project recognises the need for young people to have skills appropriate to today’s global and digital economy, so that organisations have a pipeline of talent ready for the workplace.

Education charity Edge’s work with Excelsior forms part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Education Challenge programme, designed to address the gap between the best and least well performing schools in the region.

The initial pilot was carried out with Excelsior’s Rainbird Primary pupils, working to a global sustainable energy theme.

Students had the chance to build solar-powered models of cars, windmills and boats, working to plan and budget under the guidance of Virgin Trains experts and showcase their models to family and business leaders at a school event.

The work will now be extended to years seven and eight.

Hannah Cummins, Industry Alignment Manager at Excelsior Academy, said: “We wanted to introduce our students to skills that employers value – confidence, resilience and team work – and raise their aspirations when considering their future careers. They may only be seven and eight years old, but seeing the relevance of classroom subjects in real life can make learning much more engaging.”

Craig Taylor, Excelsior Academy Executive Principal, added: “The impact of the Industry Alignment Project on our primary pupils is profound. We want to take this success and embed it next year into our wider curriculum with students in years seven and eight.”

Michelle Dickinson, Community Engagement Manager for Virgin Trains East Coast, said: “We partnered with Excelsior Academy because we are looking for a future talent pipeline for our business, to support the younger generation to think about jobs earlier in their lives. Getting involved with local schools is a fantastic and rewarding way to do this.”

The North East LEP’s Education Challenge, which the Industry Alignment Project is part of, is built on the highly successful Ford Next Generation Learning programme embedded in schools across Nashville, Tennessee, and other US cities.

The long-term aim is to introduce the programme into schools across the country, reducing the gap between the best and lowest performing secondary schools and improving social mobility.

A North East delegation visited Nashville schools last year to see how their industry alignment projects work in practice with local employers.

When introduced to Nashville schools, high school graduation rates rose by almost 23% as well as improvements in attainment, discipline and attendance.

Neil Willis, North East LEP Education Challenge Regional Lead, said: “We are looking at how we can best support schools, colleges and higher education in the drive to engage all students and the Industry Alignment Project with the Edge Foundation and Excelsior Academy is a key part of this.

“Even though the Excelsior pupils were very young, they articulated their project competently, demonstrated their skills development very well and showed how their curriculum is linked to the amazing work they’ve completed.”

“The fact the project will now be rolled out to years seven and eight shows just what a success this has been.”

The project also worked with Future Me – a collaboration between the five North East universities to help raise school children’s aspirations.

Helen Beardmore, The Edge Foundation Education Delivery Manager, said: “The key aim is to help teachers access different employability skills. The curriculum is very knowledge based and by linking the schools with employers the students get to develop their skills and knowledge, working with businesses to bring the curriculum alive.”

The North East schools involved in the pilot are Excelsior Academy, Churchill Community College and Norham High School.


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Open call to North East secondary schools and colleges

Opportunity to join North East LEP bid to secure ‘North East Ambition: Careers Hub’ in the region

Deadline for Expressions of Interest:
Wednesday 9 May 2018

Following the launch of the new National Careers Strategy (December 2017), the updated Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges (Jan 2018) and the launch of the Careers Strategy Implementation Plan (April 2018), the Careers and Enterprise Company have released a prospectus for the development of 20 ‘Career Hubs’ across the country.

Acting on behalf of schools, colleges and businesses in the region, it is our intention to bid for and lead a Careers Hub in the North East LEP area.

The ‘North East Ambition: Careers Hub’ would form part of the support the North East LEP currently provides to schools and colleges through our North East Ambition Strategy – a core component of the region’s Strategic Economic Plan.

A Careers Hub is a group of between 20 and 40 schools and colleges located in the same geographic area (LEP region), working to ensure the Gatsby Benchmarks are delivered and that careers outcomes are improved for all young people.

Securing a Careers Hub for the North East will be a competitive process. Part of the application process requires us to name up to 40 schools and colleges that will form part of our Careers Hub here in the North East. The Careers and Enterprise Company have outlined in their Careers Hub Prospectus that its main target is “mainstream secondary schools and colleges, although we also welcome the inclusion of special schools and pupil referral units in bids. The target pupils are in years 7-13. Independent schools are not eligible to be part of the 20-40 schools/colleges.”

Should you wish your school / college to be involved in the North East LEP’s bid, please read the background information document.

Please read this document carefully as it provides details about some of the information you will need to include in your Expression of Interest.

If after reading the background information you do wish to apply to be part of the ‘North East Ambition: Careers Hub’, please complete the expression of interest form and return to us by emailing [email protected]. This will serve as your application and will be used by the North East LEP to select the 40 schools and colleges that will make up the Careers Hub in our region.

Completed Expression of Interest forms should be returned to [email protected] by 12pm on Wednesday 9 May 2018.

If, as part of your application, you wish to be considered a ‘Lead School/College’ please complete the section of the expression of interest form relating to ‘Lead School/College’.

Thank you – and we look forward to receiving your Expression of Interest.


Background information

Expression of interest form

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In conversation with Karen Redhead, chief executive of Derwentside College: Supporting the ageing workforce

Derwentside College provides high quality education and training that helps learners to develop the knowledge, skills and qualities they need to achieve sustained employment and build successful careers.

Here principal and chief executive Karen Redhead tells the North East LEP about why it’s important to support the ageing workforce and its pioneering work with the over 50s.

Why is engaging with the over 50s so important?

The national picture, reflected here in the North East, shows the simple fact that we are all living longer, which means the over 50s are a growing demographic.

It’s also true that people are staying much more fit and healthy, meaning there is an increasing tendency – and appetite – for working into the later years.

In this region it’s no different. At Derwentside College, we often see people who have been made redundant or become a carer for another family member who want to resume working and need to retrain. They have a huge contribution to make in terms of skill set and work ethic.

Let’s also look at the economic argument. The North East has skills gaps that this part of the population can help close. What’s more, when people are physically and mentally active it contributes to their wellbeing, in turn reducing their reliance on the healthcare system and state.

With all this in mind, the over fifties are a talent pool we’d be silly to overlook.

How does the work you are doing fit with the North East LEP’s retrain, regain, retain campaign and the government’s Fuller Working Lives Strategy?

The LEP’s retrain, regain, retain work in line with the government’s Fuller Working Lives Strategy is extremely welcome. Our offer fits in very nicely with this.

Derwentside College is one of the UK’s largest providers of apprenticeships and last year just over a thousand of our apprentices were aged fifty or above.

We have many, many cases in which employers have had the foresight to see the benefits of retraining their existing workforce. In this instance, our job is to provide training and developing opportunities to help them unlock the potential of their older employees.

Where we align ourselves heavily with the LEP is in the drive to create ‘more and better jobs’. In particular that means helping people to move into the better jobs category, which is where someone is classed as holding a level 3 or above qualification.

Our focus is on the delivery of a recognisable level five qualification and leadership and management skills that support the technical skills of the individual in the sector they have been working.

How is Derwentside College working with employers to help them unlock their workforce potential and recruit more over 50s?

Our employer base is incredibly diverse – we are a significant provider within the public sector and we work with a lot of private companies to up skill their workforce.

We also work with a number of partners to ensure an appropriate skills pipeline.

Crucially, we have an outstanding partnership with Jobcentre Plus through which we work with the unemployed. This is hugely successful because we base our training provision around market needs, giving businesses access to the talent that they need and want. We have around 300 learners over fifty taking part.

We offer a specific course for the over 50s called ‘Pace and Purpose Fifty Plus’ and this links with Jobcentre requirements. The aim of this is to get the long-term unemployed back into a college environment so they can retrain in a way that’s comfortable to them.

In terms of our work with employers, we apply a very tailored approach to each one. We spend time understanding the issues, find solutions, help them train their staff and make sure this all marries with their policies.

Our work academies linked to specific sectors and employers have been particularly popular. Our contract with caravan manufacturer Erwen Hymer is a great example of this.

Erwen Hymer needs to increase its 500-strong workforce to 700. In response we have developed a manufacturing academy focused on the unemployed to deliver the skills it requires. It’s been a brilliant way to get learners into jobs to everyone’s benefit.


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Representing the North East at National Careers Week

As National Careers Week Ambassador for the North East of England, I’ve been delighted to be able to take a proactive role in encouraging employer engagement across the region and promote the benchmarks within the Good Career Guidance Report, which identifies what ‘good’ careers guidance looks like.

Networking across the North East is key to careers guidance success and the generation of meaningful encounters. Experiences of the workplace, between employers and young people is critical in achieving the benchmarks. My role involves liaising with the national ambassador team, sharing resources and case studies to encourage and promote these meaningful experiences.

As an Enterprise Adviser for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, I strongly support the delivery of its North East Ambition programme, which promotes skills across the region to improve the economy of the North East. Good careers guidance and the access to employment that is right for the individual, is a critical part of this drive around skills.

During National Careers Week (5-10March), I attended a series of events, actively promoting the fantastic work that is being delivered across the North East on careers guidance benchmarking and best practice working with employers.

I have been working particularly closely with Sue Taylor, the careers lead at Heaton Manor School in Newcastle upon Tyne. The school has been making great strides to achieve the benchmarks. Sue and the team have identified where the gaps are, and they are taking an innovative approach to making real connections between employers and young people.

To give the students access and exposure to a range of businesses, Heaton Manor School held a series of lunchtime talks for the duration of National Careers Week and beyond for a further week.

Attending employers include Accenture, Tarmac, Virgin Money, Digital Union, NBS, Ronald James, Baltic Training and Equiwatt, a green energy start-up company.

What an amazing opportunity for that group of Year 9’s to get first-hand information from a diverse range of employers, including small business, corporates, membership organisations and self-employed business people – all willing to talk to these students and create just the right conditions for excellent careers guidance.

This is just one example of how the North East is generating engagement between schools and employers and there is a real understanding of the benefits of developing these meaningful encounters with young people.

I am looking for more schools and business leaders across the North East that are making great strides in careers advice, generating real connections and headway in achieving the benchmarks, to use as positive case studies for our region and showcase them on a national platform.

Please communicate your successes on social media, using the hashtag #NorthEastAmbition when you tweet and tag us @northeastlep

Let’s shout about our careers guidance successes across the North East and on the national stage.

I welcome contact from schools, colleges and business leaders that would like to discuss future opportunities to network and create meaningful careers guidance opportunities.

Catherine Boland is currently HR Director at Printed.com until she moves to her new role as Business and Community Engagement Lead with Baltic Training at the end of April. Catherine is National Careers Week Ambassador for the North East of England.

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Education Challenge Project Manager appointed

A project manager has been appointed to support the delivery of a ground-breaking education programme.

Neil Willis will lead the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Education Challenge.

The role will see Neil spearhead the Next Generation Learning project, which aims to reduce the gap between the region’s best and lowest performing secondary schools and improve social mobility in our young people.

Neil brings extensive experience to the role, having spent 16 years as a science teacher and in senior leadership in secondary schools in the North East.

In 2016, he began working across schools as an Education Consultant, developing projects including STEM-specific provision through the National STEM Centre, teacher training and CPD, faculty improvement and school improvement.

Over the past two years, Neil has been involved in North East Futures University Technical College (UTC), which saw him build a significant amount of partnerships with regional industry to enrich the curriculum and bring industry into the classroom.

Newcastle University graduate Neil said: “I am very excited to play a part in shaping the education landscape and driving change through the LEP’s Education Challenge.

“Building on the success of Gatsby Foundation’s Career Benchmarks, the Education Challenge will support teachers, schools, governors and leaders to integrate careers learning into the curriculum to ensure those entering the workforce in the future have the skill level to support our diverse economy and are fully aware of the progression routes available to make this happen.”

The appointment comes after the North East LEP area was selected by Ford Next Generation Learning and The Edge Foundation as the first area internationally to translate elements of the successful ‘Academies of Nashville’ model to the UK.

The Academies of Nashville model transformed attendance, attainment and progression by placing employers and business partners alongside teachers and school leaders to develop highly personalised approaches to progression.

The Next Generation Learning project aims to replicate this success.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, said: “The North East is leading the way when it comes to implementing outstanding careers provision within education.

“Neil brings with him vast skills and experience, which will be a great asset to furthering the aims of the Education Challenge. We are delighted to welcome him to the team.”

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In conversation with Claire Wedderman, Regional Manager at Inspiring Governance

We caught up with Claire Wedderman, Regional Manager at Inspiring Governance, the online matching service that connects skilled volunteers to schools with governor vacancies. Claire talked to us about the benefits of becoming a school governor:

Whether you’re looking to develop your skills or contribute to the issues that you feel passionately about, becoming a school governor demonstrates a commitment to the success of young people in the region whilst growing your own strategic leadership skills. Recruiting skilled governors is more difficult in rural, urban or deprived areas and in those schools that ‘require improvement’, so there are opportunities to make a real difference. There are 250,000 people across the country who are already participating, so why not join them in 2018?

At Inspiring Governance we are the free online matching service that connects skilled volunteers to schools with governor vacancies. We work with employers from all industries in order to source suitable volunteers with a desire to share their workplace skills with the local community. Once matched, we provide new volunteers with free support and training to guide you through your first year in the role.

Here in the North East, our region’s schools are facing cuts to their funding, teacher shortages in certain subjects and more crowded classrooms than their Southern counterparts. We believe that having the right people on school governing boards is the first step in tackling such issues, and that by working with schools, recruiting boards and volunteers, we can ensure each school benefits from our free matching service. We are already working with Universities, businesses and Civil Service departments in the region, who are all encouraging their staff to become governors. However, there are so many North East schools with vacancies, that we need more businesses to support our recruitment drive, and use this opportunity to develop their team.

Jacqui Sugden, Clerk at Churchill Community College in North Tyneside is one recruiter who has successfully appointed through Inspiring Governance. She said: “The site has been very helpful in recruiting new governors with the right skills to match the governing body’s needs. The objective, professional approach that these new governors provide is invaluable.”

The best governing bodies are professional, with members who have the knowledge and background to effectively challenge senior leaders. The wide range of skills sought by schools in the North East means that you or your colleagues could be great candidates for school governance. Schools need volunteers with backgrounds in finance, HR, and operations, and of course people from the diverse industries in the region, such as the growing digital sector, health and life sciences and energy, offshore and subsea engineering who are able to challenge and hold senior leadership to account.

Jack Footman, Council Officer who has recently been appointed to a school said: “I decided to pursue a governor role in order to support a school to deliver the best possible outcomes for young people. So far it’s been an excellent experience as I’ve learnt from experienced and passionate governors, as well as seeing a good school continue to progress to outstanding. Inspiring Governance linked me to a school that matches my ambitions very efficiently and have been really supportive throughout.”

Volunteers find that giving their time to school governance has a tangible impact on their board-level skills, developing their abilities in strategic planning, chairing, financial planning, and team working, all of which are valued by employers and can assist your own career development. Combined with the opportunity to make a real difference in your community, school governance is a win-win volunteering role.

Volunteer Matt Vickers, Senior Consultant at Abbott Risk Consulting said: “I wanted to become a School Governor to help give something back to the community, and hopefully be able to get a good understanding of how schooling works. I’m hoping that decisions made now, may help to shape things for my young son’s educational future.”

We believe that effective governance is crucial to closing the attainment gap, part of the North East LEP’s Education Challenge.

Strong governing boards provide confident, strategic leadership and robust accountability, oversight and assurance for educational and financial performance.

If you’d like to know more about Inspiring Governance, volunteering as a governor or setting up an employer scheme please visit our website – www.inspiringgovernance.org – or contact me direct via the email address [email protected]

To register as an employer, volunteer, or recruiting governor please visit: www.inspiringgovernance.org