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Funding Opportunities with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

The ESFA Transition Programme has launched four specifications for the North East LEP area, supporting four Investment Priorities:




IP 1.1:  Skills Support for the Unemployed

IP 1.2: Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) (15-24)

IP 1.4: Community Grants

IP 2.1: Skills Support for the Workforce

Further details can be found here. Full specifications can be found on Bravo; organisations not already registered on Bravo must do so before accessing the documents.

The closing date for applications is 17 SEPTEMBER 2018

Contact details of your local Technical Support Team can be found here.

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North East selected to host lead Careers Hub

The North East has been selected to host a prestigious Careers Hub dedicated to improving careers education for young people.

One of 21 across England, the ‘North East Ambition: Careers Hub’ will support schools and colleges in the region to implement and achieve the 8 Gatsby Career Benchmarks – the clearly defined framework for ‘Good Career Guidance’.

Delivered by The Careers & Enterprise Company in partnership with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the North East Ambition: Careers Hub will comprise of 40 secondary schools with a separate Hub servicing 10 colleges – including all nine FE colleges in the North East and one sixth form college.

Both Hubs will support the North East LEP’s skills initiative, North East Ambition, which aims to ensure each and every student in the region has access to high quality careers education and all secondary schools and colleges in the North East are achieving the Benchmarks by 2024.

Heidi Mottram, Vice Chair of the North East LEP, said: “Following our successful delivery of the Gatsby Career Benchmarks pilot, I’m delighted another of the initiatives trailed and tested here in our region is being rolled out across the country as part of the Government’s Careers Strategy.

“In recognition of our experience delivering outstanding careers guidance, the North East Ambition: Careers Hub will be the national lead, supporting the other 20 to deliver the eight Gatsby benchmarks in schools and colleges across England.”

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said: “We’re excited by the potential impact of the Hubs. If employers, schools and colleges can better prepare young people for the world of work, we’re not just benefiting the future economy, but improving prospects for thousands of young people.”

Professor Sir John Holman, author of the Gatsby Career Benchmarks, said: “The North East LEP led the pilot of the Gatsby Benchmarks to great success and I’m very pleased that they will now be sharing what they have learnt with 20 new Careers Hubs around the country. The North East pilot demonstrated what is possible, and I hope the new hubs across the country can build on that success and take it still further.”

Careers Hubs are a central part of the Government’s Careers Strategy, published in December. The strategy aims to improve careers education and help prepare young people for the world of work.

Schools and colleges enrolled in the Hubs will work with universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to improve careers education. They will be supported by a ‘Hub Lead’ and Enterprise Coordinators who will help coordinate activity and build networks. They will also be able to access a Central Hub Fund, equivalent to around £1k per school or college, with additional support available, including access to training for career leaders and enhanced employer encounters.

The North East is the only region in England to host a dedicated Hub for colleges.

Heidi continued: “Improving careers education for young people and ensuring businesses have access to a skilled workforce is central to our Strategic Economic Plan for the North East.

“The North East Ambition: Careers Hub will help us achieve this by giving young people access to high quality careers guidance and preparing them for the world of work.”

For more information about how the North East LEP is improving skills in the region, visit www.nelep.co.uk/skills

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In conversation with… North East LEP chair, Andrew Hodgson, who discusses our Industry Alignment pilot project

The North East LEP is recognised as a national leader in careers education policy, pioneering the delivery of the Gatsby Benchmarks for good careers guidance we’ve helped embed in regional schools.

We don’t believe in resting on our laurels and are looking to go one step further to ensure every child in the North East has access to the very best in careers engagement.

As part of this commitment, we’ve looked over the Atlantic to the United States to draw upon the best of their work bringing the classroom and the boardroom closer together.

So it’s especially pleasing to see the impact being made in one regional school in particular by the North East LEP’s Education Challenge.

Pupils aged seven and eight at Newcastle’s Excelsior Academy are spearheading an industry alignment pilot project uniting big business with cutting edge teaching.

The project – piloted by our partner The Edge Foundation education charity – builds on the best of the highly successful Ford Next Generation Learning programme embedded in schools across Nashville, Tennessee, and other US cities.

The US programme run with car manufacturing giant Ford registered great success in both the classroom and the boardroom.

In Newcastle, experts from Virgin Trains East Coast worked with Excelsior Academy primary pupils to teach them about the essential workings of their business and the different skills of its employees needed to run the company.

Project manager Hannah Cummins helped capture the creative spark of youngsters in the classroom, drawing up business plans to underpin the building of solar-powered models.

The final step in the project was to present their plans and models in the main school hall to the project partners, family and friends.

No small task, but one they delivered with great aplomb!

The impact of the project is many fold. Children have been introduced to the professional and personal skills needed to fulfil roles such as in finance, engineering and marketing.

As well as the professional skills, youngsters now know the importance to employers of personal qualities like a positive attitude, resilience, teamwork and self confidence.

Excelsior headteacher Craig Taylor plans to roll out the project to Year 7 and Year 8 pupils from next September.

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

The main aim of the Education Challenge is to reduce the gap between the region’s best and lowest performing secondary schools and improve the social mobility of young people.

It’s helping teachers and governors at Excelsior, Norham High in North Shields and Churchill Community College in Wallsend to integrate careers learning into the curriculum. 

The US model is informing our Education Challenge which we hope will be introduced into schools across the country.

A bold ambition, but one that is built on firm foundations with outstanding partner support.

It’s off to a flying start at Excelsior Academy where youngsters are the standard bearers for its success.









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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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The importance of good school governance

In conversation with Mrs Louise Levy, Senior Leader Business & Finance, Cardinal Hume Catholic School

My journey as a school governor started around nine years ago. I joined my daughter’s primary school (Fellside Community Primary School, Whickham) as a parent governor and at the time I knew very little about the role and responsibility of a school governing body.

As the educational landscape has changed dramatically over those nine years, so has the role and remit of school governance. It remains a vital part of any school, be it Primary, Secondary or Academy Trust – with far more accountability being placed upon governing bodies.

Governing bodies and its members are there to provide strategic leadership; setting a path for the school and its students that results in the best standards of education. Governors are also responsible for budget monitoring, the allocation of school finances and resources, and supporting and challenging the head teacher and leadership team’s vision within school to drive standards. It’s also critically important that school is a fond and memorable experience for all students so ensuring pupil wellbeing is another hugely important factor.

I’m often asked what qualities make a good school governor. For me it’s enthusiasm, someone with a real interest in education and a passion for creating a bright future for children. I also think it’s important to question and be curious about things as this helps bring about both understanding and change.

Learning from others, listening and creating an atmosphere of trust are other key qualities. I’ve personally learnt a great deal from Chairs of the various governing bodies I’ve been part of and I think that’s made me a better school governor.

One of biggest changes in the role of a school governing body is ensuring pupils are prepared for the world of work. It’s not just about having a careers fair and inviting local businesses to talk to pupils about what they do; it’s about creating meaningful encounters with employers. We are starting to do this better at secondary level but I think more can be done with primary aged children.

I currently work with a visionary Headteacher who has ensured Cardinal Hume Catholic School in Gateshead is now a Main Provider of Apprenticeships. One of only nine schools in the country to receive this accreditation, we will be training young people within the region in partnership with the business partners to mould and develop their staff of the future who are ‘work ready’ from the minute they become employed. This is a great example of how school governors, head teachers and employers across the region can work in partnership to bring about real change.

Today’s school governing bodies include people from a wide and diverse range of industry sectors and people who demonstrate many different, yet key skills to benefit the school community. All this experience adds value to pupils’ education as governing bodies can use their business networks to support careers education and identify career opportunities for young people in their area.

Of course there’s always room for improvement. I think knowledge sharing is something school governing bodies should do more often. We should be sharing best practice and collaborating between governing bodies. All governors should be able to visit other Good and Outstanding schools. Every school has something to offer others and it’s an excellent way of helping governors expand their knowledge past their own school.

We should invite more monitoring of governing bodies, specifically to ensure we’re doing the best for our schools and pupils. Regular ‘health checks’ should be seen as a positive thing as they would identify areas where governing bodies need to concentrate further in individual schools – they’re all different, with different challenges.

For anyone interested in becoming a school governor I think it’s important to fully understand what the role entails. Speak to your local school, the head teacher or Chair of governors to really understand what’s required of you. It can be hard work but it’s very rewarding. The Department of Education and National Governance Association websites also house lots of information.

If you’d prefer to play more of a passive role there are opportunities to be observers or associate governors. This can be a good way to start your school governance journey as it gives people time to learn the sector, particular for someone outside of education.

I’m enormously proud to be a school governor. Seeing improvements happen across the school and the impact that has on pupils, staff and the local communities is very rewarding. When you see the work you have done play a positive part on their educational journey, and their smiling faces, you know that’s what it’s all about.

By Mrs Louise Levy, Senior Leader Business & Finance, Cardinal Hume Catholic School

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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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Nashville success underpins North East Education Challenge

A second North East delegation is visiting schools in Nashville, Tennessee, this week to further learn how a pioneering approach to education in the US is transforming student attainment through industry links.

The Ford Next Generation Learning programme embeds industry knowledge into school curriculum across Nashville and other US cities, equipping students with the skills that modern industry demands.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is leading the delegation to Nashville.

With partners, the LEP will deliver a UK pilot, initially in three North East schools – Excelsior Academy, Newcastle, Norham High and Churchill Community College, both North Tyneside – based on the best elements of the US model.

The North East pilot is in its development stage, ready to be implemented in schools in September. The Education Challenge will embed industry-led projects into lessons and equip young people with the skills employers look for. Its aim is to reduce the gap between the best and lowest performing secondary schools and improve social mobility.

The pilot will be rolled out to further schools and FE in early 2019 with a view to creating a scaleable and replicable model.

Education and industry representatives from Ford Next Generation Learning, USA visited the North East last year to share good practice and reciprocally how schools in our region are already at the forefront of Good Career Guidance, part of the North East’s Strategic Economic Plan

Neil Willis, Project Manager, Education Challenge at the North East LEP, said: “Ford Next Generation Learning informed our innovative approach in the North East

“We are working with regional, national and international partners, building effective relationships between employers and teachers, particularly developing teacher continuous professional development – with teachers spending time in industry co-designing provision.”

In Nashville when employers were effectively engaged within education,, those schools went from being some of the lowest performing schools in the US to some of the highest in terms of attainment and attendance.

Excelsior Academy is one of the first three North East schools working closely with the LEP to introduce the Education Challenge into its classrooms.

Craig Taylor, Excelsior Academy Executive Principal, said: “This could be a significant, potentially transformative project for Excelsior Academy.

“If we are going to continue trying to impact positively on our pupils’ lives, we need to look at what we offer and how we present it to them.”

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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.”