Starting Well - Education



Educational attainment is measured in children at numerous points through childhood as they progress through the education system. During key stage 4, pupils work towards national qualifications, usually GCSEs, which are measured by the percentage of pupils achieving a grade 4 in English and Maths or equivalent, Attainment 8 and Progress 8 scores.

Following this they can either stay on to do A-levels, study work or job related courses, train as an apprentice or work whilst studying part time. Educational attainment is influenced by both the quality of education children receive and their families' socio-economic circumstances.

Children's education and development of skills are important for their own wellbeing and for that of the borough as a whole. Learning ensures that children develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes that they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and in the future.

Children with poorer mental health are more likely to have lower educational attainment and there is some evidence to suggest that the highest level of educational qualifications is a significant predictor of wellbeing in adult life. Educational qualifications are a determinant of an individual's labour market position, which in turn influences income, housing and other material resources.


Main Issues

Educational Attainment

Recent changes have been made to educational grading systems. In 2017 the GCSE grading system has changed from the letter based A*-F system to a numerical 9-1 system. For comparison purposes A*-C equates to grades 9-4 in the new system. In 2006 Attainment 8 and Progress 8 were introduced, these are two performance measures that look at the attainment of the pupils. Attainment 8 looks at a pupil’s achievement across 8 qualifications, not just English and mathematics, and assigns a score based on each of the 8 grades achieved. Progress 8 looks at how pupils performed in their Attainment 8 compared to how they are expected to perform based on their key stage 2 results. Pupils are rated against the average national Attainment 8 performance of those in the same key stage 2 attainment group, resulting in a positive or negative score, where each full number is the equivalent of attainment 1 full grade above or below what was expected.

For Attainment 8 within Hartlepool there was a range of 21.9 points across the wards for the average Attainment 8 score in 2018. Manor House’s average score of 30.3 was only 58% of Hart’s average score of 52.2 points. This is the largest gap between the highest scoring ward and the lowest scoring ward for 3 years, and is 52% larger than the gap in 2017.

Education - graph 1


Manor House’s score of 30.3 is the lowest of any ward for the last three years and is almost a quarter lower than its 2016 score. As a whole Hartlepool’s average score fell from 44.0 in 2017 to 42.0 in 2018, at the same time that both England and the north east increased their average scores. Across the wards in Hartlepool only two, Headland & Harbour and Hart, increased their average Attainment 8 points score in 2018, and both of the increases were only by 0.2. Manor House and Seaton saw the largest decreases, 7.3 points and 4.5 points respectively.

GCSE attainment at grades 9-5 for both English and maths follows the exactly same order as average Attainment 8 score for the six lowest performing wards. Manor House, De Bruce, Headland & Harbour, Foggy Furze, Jesmond and Victoria are the six lowest performing wards, in that order, for both Attainment 8 score and GCSE achievement English and maths grades 9-5. Of these 6 wards four have decreased against their 2017 performance, with only Headland & Harbour and Victoria increasing their performance, 0.7% and 7.9% respectively. Victoria’s increase of 7.9% is the 2nd largest of all the wards in Hartlepool. Hart is the best performing ward for both Attainment 8 score and GCSE achievement English and maths grades 9-5. Hart’s achievement rate of 56.1% is the only ward in 2018 above 50%. The top four performing wards, Hart, Fens & Rossmere, Rural West and Burn Valley, all improved on their 2017 performance. Burn Valley’s 14.3% increase is the largest of all the wards in Hartlepool. The gap between the best performing ward and the worst performing ward has increased from 30.7% in 2017 to 39.5% in 2018.

Education - graph 2


Hartlepool’s GCSE achievement English and maths grades 9-5 has decreased slightly from 37.6% in 2017 to 37.4% in 2018, while both England and the north east have increased their performance, from 39.1% to 39.9% for England and 37.4% to 40.5% for the north east. Hartlepool has moved from a position of superiority to the north east average in 2017 to a position of inferiority in 2018.

If the grade range for English and maths GCSEs is extended from 9-5 to 9-4, which is the equivalent of a GCSE grade A*-C, then Hartlepool’s performance in 2018 has improved on its 2017 performance. Hartlepool achieved 59.5% grade 9-4 for English and maths in 2017, but in 2018 this had risen to 60.3%. In 2017 Hartlepool’s achievement rate was above both the England and north east levels, and in 2018 Hartlepool remains above the England average, increasing the gap from 1% to 1.2%. The North east average has over taken Hartlepool in 2018, with a gap of 1.7%.

Within the wards in Hartlepool in 2018 Hart’s 81.6% achievement is the highest by any ward since 2016, however Manor House’s 39.7% is the lowest by any ward since the new grading system began. The gap between the best performing ward and the worst performing ward has increased in 2018, from 32.7% in 2017 to 41.9% in 2018. Six of the wards, Hart, Burn Valley, Fens & Rossmere, Victoria, De Bruce and Headland & Harbour, have improved on their 2017 performance, with Hart and Victoria achieving the largest improvement, 6.3% and 4.7% respectively. Four of the wards, Seaton,  saw their performance decrease against the 2017 level. Jesmond’s decrease of 6.9% was the largest of any ward in 2018.

Education - graph 3


School Readiness

A good level of development (GLD) is a broad national measure of a child’s readiness to enter formal schooling at the end of Reception. The rate of pupils achieving a good level of development at age 5 within Hartlepool has increased over the last four years, initially in large steps, but more recently at a steadier rate. In 2012/13 Hartlepool’s rate was 47.5%, less than 1 in 2 5 year olds were achieving a good level of development. By 2014/15 this had increased to 68.4%. This has continued to increase up to 2016/17, when the rate was 69.6%, which is an increase of 46% on the 2012/13 level. In the same period the north east and England rates increased from 45.2% to 70.7% and 51.7% to 70.7% respectively.

Education - graph 4


Education - graph 5


Hartlepool has gone from sitting statistically worse than the national average in 2012/13 to statistically similar in 2016/17. Local Hartlepool data suggests that this decrease will continue into 2017/18, with those achieving a good level of school readiness dropping to 69.1%. Across the wards, Headland & Harbour has the lowest rate, as it did for the previous year, with 56.9% a drop of 2.9% on 20116/17, and Rural West had the highest rate, regaining this from Seaton from the previous year, with 81.0%. Headland & Harbour has seen the biggest decrease in the last 3 years, falling by 10.6%, and Jesmond has seen the greatest increase, improving by 11.1%. As a whole, Hartlepool has improved by 0.8%.

Education - graph 6


For those receiving free school meals, the level achieving a good level of development at age 5 has also increased. In 2012/13 the level was 30.1%, less than 1 in 3 pupil receiving free schools meals achieved a good level of development at age 5, but this had increased to 57.1% in 2014/15 and 61.1% in 2016/17. This is more than double the 2012/13 level. In the same period England’s rate increased from 36.2% to 56.0%, and the north east regional rate from 28.7% to 57.7%.

Education - graph 7


Education - graph 8


Hartlepool is currently statistically similar to both the England and north east averages, having been statistically better than both in 2014/15, and statistically worse than England in 20123/13. Hartlepool had the 2nd highest level in the north east in 2016/17.

The phonics screening check is a national measure taken at the end of Year 1 of a child’s ability to recognise and use letters and the sounds that they make.  This is a crucial skill in helping children to read, to spell, to write and to speak. Hartlepool’s rate of year 1 pupils achieving the expected level in the phonics screening check in 2016/17 saw the end of 4 years continuous improvement. Hartlepool’s rate had grown year on year, from 61.5% in 2011/12 to 84.8% in 2015/16, before dipping slightly to 82.3% in 2015/16.

Education - graph 9


Education - graph 10


Throughout the reporting period, until the decline in 2016/17, Hartlepool had been consistently statistically better than the England average and had been better than the north east average from 2012/13 to 2015/16. The 2016/17 rate is statistically similar to both the England and the north east averages. Local Hartlepool data examines this further, looking at those attaining the expected levels of achievement in reading, writing, maths and science.

In all four of these areas De Bruce has the lowest rate and Rural West has the highest. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th lowest rate in each area are a combination of Manor House, Headland & Harbour and Jesmond. Across the town as a whole, the highest levels of success are in science, which achieved 81.4% in 2018 and the lowest is writing, which achieved 71.9%. Maths and reading have swapped places over the last three years, with maths moving from 3rd place in 2015/16 with 71.3% to 2nd place in 2017/18 with 76.9%. Conversely reading moved from 2nd place in 2015/16 with 72.9% to 3rd in 2017/18 with 75.5%. Although writing has the lowest achievement level, it has had the greatest improvement over the last 3 years, increasing by 6.7%

For those receiving free school meals a similar pattern emerges, with a period of sustained growth followed by a slight reduction in 2016/17. In 2011/12 the level of year 1 pupils who receive free school meals in Hartlepool who achieved the expected level in the phonics screening was 51.8%, 9.7% below the full Hartlepool level. This had increased to 75.3% in 2015/16, before reducing to 72.0% in 2016/17. The 2016/17 figure is 10.3% below the full Hartlepool figure for the same year. This shows that while both rates have increased over the reporting period, the gap between Hartlepool as a whole and those receiving free school meals has increased over the reporting period. Compared with England and the north east, again a similar picture can be seen.

Education - graph 11


Education - graph 12


Again Hartlepool had several years statistically superior to both England and the North East, but is statistically similar to both for the 2016/17 data.

Absenteeism & Exclusions

Pupil absences in Hartlepool, across both primary and secondary schools, have reduced over the last 7 years. In 2010/11 the pupil absence rate in Hartlepool was 6.08%, in 2016/17 this had reduced to 5.12%. This is a fall of 15.8% in 7 years. During the same period England’s rate fell from 5.79% to 4.69%, a reduction of 19%, and the north east fell from 6.14% to 4.89%, a reduction of 20.4%. While Hartlepool’s rate has fallen it is doing so at a rate slower than both England and the north east region. This means that the gap between Hartlepool and the north east has moved from 0.06% in Hartlepool’s favour in 2010/11 to Hartlepool being 0.23% behind the north east in 2016/17. Against the England average the gap has increased from 0.29% in 2010/11 to 0.42% in 2016/17.

Education - graph 13


Education - graph 14


Hartlepool’s rate has remained statistically similar to the north east throughout the reporting period, however against the England average statistical similarity has fluctuated, and Hartlepool is currently on a two year period of being statistically worse than the England average.

Fixed term exclusions in Hartlepool have seen a substantial increase the last 4 years. Days lost to pupils for exclusions in 2014/15 was 1110, by 2017/18 this had risen to 6463, an increase of 582%. This is also a substantial increase against the previous year, 2016/17, where days lost were 3415, nearly half the amount of 2017/18. The level of increase in 2017/18 can be attributed in the main to one school, which has reached unprecedented level of exclusions. This one school accounts for 55% of the days lost in 2017/18, in previous years the largest a single school accounted for was 29%. Exclusions for persistent disruption increased by over 4,000% at this school and rates of physical assault were nearly 4 times the 2017/17 level. However, taking this into account, Hartlepool had seen a year on year increase in days lost to exclusions, increasing by approximately 1150 per year, this would have given 2017/18 an expected level of 4565. Several of the specific reasons for exclusions have also seen a large increase in 2017/18, due to the increased exclusion levels within one school. Bullying, persistent disruptive, verbal abuse adult/child, physical assault, damage and other are all at least twice the level that they were in 2016/17 in this school, which has caused rates to increase even where the majority of schools have seen a reduction.

Fixed term exclusions for those with special educational needs (SEN) has seen a rapid increase, with 0 in 2014/15 and 3 in 2015/16, before an increase to 143 in 2016/17. This increase from 3 to 143 is across all five of the secondary schools in Hartlepool, with levels ranging from 18 to 46, where the previous year two of the five school s had 0 exclusions for those with SEN.

Although 2017/18 saw a large increase in total exclusions, the number of those permanently excluded actually decreased on the 2016/17 level. Permanent exclusion numbers had reached a high of 21 pupils in 2016/17, which was 190% of the 2015/16 level, but reduced to 16 pupils in 2017/18, a fall of nearly a quarter.

Levels of exclusions will need to continue to be monitored in order to see if the 2017/18 figures are an anomaly, or if they have set a new benchmark for levels of exclusions within Hartlepool.

Literacy & Numeracy

The key stage 2 tests for reading, mathematics, and grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS) assess the levels of literacy and numeracy as pupils progress through primary school.  The government have set the minimum standards they expect children to reach at the end of each key stage of compulsory schooling in England.  These are called age-related expectations (ARE).  Children meeting these standards are said to be working at ARE or working at the expected standard. The provisional 2018 results show that those achieving the expected standard or above in Hartlepool, for reading is on par with the England average of 75%, but below the north east rate of 77%, for GPS Hartlepool’s rate of 79% is above the England average of 78% but below the north east rate of 80%, and for mathematics Hartlepool’s rate of 78% is above the England average of 76% and on par with the north east average. However when looking at those achieving a high score Hartlepool fares less well against those comparators.

Education - graph 15


Education - graph 16


Children who have exceeded the minimum standards expected for their age are said to be working beyond ARE or working at greater depth. Across all three tests Hartlepool is below the England and the north east averages for those working at greater depth. For reading Hartlepool has 23% working at greater depth, which is 5% below both the England and north east average of 28%. This is the largest gap between Hartlepool’s performance and the regional and national averages of the three tests. For GPS, Hartlepool had 31% working at greater depth compared with 34% for England and 35% for the north east, and for mathematics Hartlepool achieved a rate of 21%, compared with 24% for both England and the north east.

Looking at those who achieved the expected standard on these three tests, plus the writing and science tests, local Hartlepool data the Victoria ward had the lowest rate for all 5 of the tests, whereas the highest achieving ward is shared by 4 wards across the 5 tests. Headland & Harbour had the highest level for reading, Seaton for science, Hart for GPS, and Foggy Furze for writing and mathematics. In all five of the tests Victoria has seen a reduction in the 2018 results compared with the 2017 results, with mathematics and GPS both falling by 14.4%. However Victoria is not the only ward to experience a reduction in achievement in all five tests, Hart Rural West and Jesmond also have lower rates in 2018 than in 2017 in all five of the key stage 2 tests, with the single biggest fall a decline of 23.8% by Rural West in mathematics. Manor House, Foggy Furze and Headland & Harbour are the only wards to increase their rate in all five tests, with the single biggest increase being Headland & Harbour’s 24.3% increase in reading.

Non-Mainstream Education

In 2019 the numbers of pupils in non-mainstream education were:

  • 62 pupils
  • 68 episodes throughout the reporting year (any period of Alternative Provision between 19th January 2018 to 17th January 2019 inclusive)
  • 10 episodes closed
  • 5 pupils no longer Alternative Provision
  • 5 pupils left one Alternative Provision and started at another Alternative Provision


Current Services




Future Intentions

Hartlepool’s future intention is to follow the proposed TVCA led programme to support schools in the Tees Valley (Hartlepool) to achieve better outcomes for young people, and enable them to support economic growth in the Tees Valley.


The Future Challenge

  1. The key challenge is to improve secondary educational outcomes through having high quality leadership in all of Tees Valley schools, including Hartlepool that drives improvement in all aspects of provision i.e. teaching, curriculum, assessment and pupils’ personal development. A focus on creating an environment that supports vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils will underpin improvements in student outcomes.
  2. There is a high degree of consensus as to what the specific issues are:
    1. A leadership challenge - concerns about leadership and governance capacity in schools, especially around middle leadership. Good, stable leadership capacity is the single most important factor in supporting a system of school improvement.

Future Plan - Growing leaders; a specifically commissioned programme to support leadership capacity in schools.


  1. A recruitment challenge - there are specific challenges in the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers, especially from outside the Tees Valley. This is, in effect, a very specific sector challenge for the economy.

Future Plan – Create the ‘Teaching Valley’; attracting, recruiting and retaining talent teachers.


  1. A curriculum challenge – there are specific challenges in ensuring that young people in the Tees Valley have access to high quality teaching in science, technology (including digital), engineering, English and maths (STEEM) when these are the bedrock of future economic growth.

Future Plan - A STEEM revolution; a specific and sustained focus on science, technology (including digital), engineering, English and maths as the core skills needed to drive the future economy.


  1. An inclusion challenge – rapidly growing concerns that a failure to excite and engage children who struggle with a mainstream curriculum is creating an increasing challenge for the Tees Valley to grow as an inclusive sub- region and that there are a number of specific curriculum challenges where innovation is required to find new solutions.

Future Plan - Inclusive Growth; a focus on the development of innovative solutions to tackle entrenched issues around achievement and alternative curriculum development for those young people at risk of not reaching their potential linked to employer demand and potential progression to further education, employment or training.