Education secretary diverts funding to boost North East


Education secretary Damian Hinds has unveiled plans to divert £24 million to boost teacher training and drive school improvements in the north east.

The move comes amid fears that pupils in the region are ‘missing out’ as none of the government’s ‘opportunity areas’ that are eligible for funding can be found in the north east.

Calls to extend the project – launched in 2016 to support areas deemed to have the greatest need – have now been heeded, with the launch of Opportunity North East.

Mr Hinds unveiled the plans at an event in Gateshead, outlining how £24 million of funding – four times that set aside for the country’s 12 opportunity areas – will be spent in the north east.

Half of the total fund will be delivered from existing Department for Education budgets to cover ‘targeted approaches’ that can support pupil transition from primary to secondary schools.

This will also help to enhance learning standards and will focus on boosting outcomes and job prospects for over-16s.

The Department for Education has said it will work with colleges and secondary schools to ensure that all university, degree apprenticeships and other high quality technical educational options are discussed with pupils.

The other £12 million will be set aside to support new teachers by enhancing the early career training on offer in the north east and will come from the teacher development premium initially unveiled in last year’s Autumn Budget.

Existing government programmes, such as the Careers and Enterprise Company and the National Citizen Service will also target young people in the region – as they do in other opportunity areas.

Mr Hinds said that while talent and potential are evenly spread across the UK, “opportunities sometimes aren’t”.

“The north east has a lot of really outstanding education – especially so at primary level,” he explained. “The job now is to spread that through more of the secondary level and beyond.”