New schools commissioner appointed

Phil Fitzpatrick
Phil Fitzpatrick
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This is the man charged with transforming St Helens’ schools.

Phil Fitzpatrick has been appointed as the town’s first-ever schools commissioner.

He will also act as chairman in the St Helens School Improvement Board, which will regularly and robustly hold schools to account for their performance.

Council leader Barrie Grunewald said: “When I became Leader of St Helens Council I outlined my commitment to ensuring that improving educational outcomes for the children and young people in our borough were paramount.

“That work started with the establishment of an education task force and Phil’s appointment is building on that work and is a clear signal that we are determined to see standards rise further in our schools.

“The results of our primary schools are amongst the best in the country. While our GCSE results remain stable, in a year that witnessed falls in other local authorities, there is still much more to do in our secondary schools.

“Phil has a track record in the secondary sector for delivering rapid improvement in education, experience that we will harness to help schools in all phases to do even better.”

His work in school improvement includes recent headship at Birkdale High School in Sefton, which was placed in special measures by Ofsted in 2011.

Mr Fitzpatrick was subsequently appointed by the Department for Education to take the school out of that category of concern and it was upgraded to good by Ofsted in November 2013.

He has also turned around other schools including the Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High in Wales, St Benedict’s College and New Heys, and Parklands High, Wythenshaw - improving exam results at each school.

The 66-year-old said: “My key strengths are problem solving, identifying and initiating positive developments and putting every child at the centre of the educational processes. I am delighted to have been appointed as commissioner and I look forward to working with all concerned to bring about sustained improvements.”