New Schools Challenge in the North East |

New Schools Challenge in the North East

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Schools Challenge to North East

What would you choose?

Series of events for teachers, families and community groups: 19th to 21st September


National education charity, the New Schools Network will be in the North East as part of its New Schools Challenge with a series of events from Thursday 19 September.  Designed to gather the views of parents and teachers on education in the area, the Challenge events will also provide an opportunity to find out more about how individuals and organisations can get involved in setting up new schools.


Focusing on Middlesbrough and Hartlepool in the North East, the New Schools Challenge is visiting major towns and cities across England where new schools could help address shortages in school places, improve educational standards or create greater choice for local parents. 


This September, 93 new Free Schools opened in England but only three of these were in the North East. There are now a total of five open in the region, including the region’s first Special Free School in Darlington. But, with lower than average educational standards in the North East, and a higher than average level of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), the New Schools Network wants to encourage even more groups to come forward to help improve education locally.


Natalie Evans, Director of the New Schools Network said:

“The North East has 23% more underperforming secondary schools than the national average and in Middlesbrough only 48% of children achieve 5+A*-C GCSEs, including Maths and English, compared to the national average of 59%. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way, with Free Schools offering a way to make a real difference.

“Hundreds of new schools are being set up across the country, but we know that there is a real need for even more great new schools – either because of low educational attainment, or because parents are not happy with what is currently on offer.

“Over the coming year, we will be taking this challenge to a number of key communities across the country where local families are not yet benefitting from a new school in their area. We want to hear their views and offer them the chance to find out more about setting up a new school.”  

Anyone interested can join the debate at these open sessions or give their views by finding us on Facebook:


·         Thursday – Middleton Grange shopping centre, Hartlepool from 10am onwards

·         Saturday – Hillstreet shopping centre, Middlesbrough from 10am onwards


The New Schools Challenge will also be running smaller sessions for anyone with an active interest in getting involved in improving education or setting up a school in the area.  Find out more at


One Free School Group who have already set up a Free School in the North East is the West Newcastle Academy who share their reasons for wanting to set up a new school:


Leigh Davison, West Newcastle Academy

“Over thirty years of working with children and families in one of the most deprived areas of Newcastle taught our charity, Kids & Us, that schools need to do more to involve parents in their children’s learning to overcome the effects of long-term disadvantage. Setting up a Free School gave us the freedom to look at other successful education models and offer parents a real choice: our school is a forest school which involves child led learning in a natural environment and within the community. A variety of projects and learning opportunities are on offer where children can work in small collaborative groups to solve problems and develop their natural curiosity. With this model, parents can also come in and participate in their children’s learning, as our aim is also to ensure that every child has a supportive learning environment at home. We would encourage other groups in the North East to seize the opportunity to set up a Free School as it is a brilliant way to respond to the particular needs of their local community.”