School standards gap laid bare

St Helens Council hope task force will bridge the education gap
St Helens Council hope task force will bridge the education gap
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Primary school pupils in St Helens are almost twice as likely to attend schools rated “good” or better by Ofsted than local secondary school students.

The shocking discrepancy between the standard of the borough’s primary and secondary schools has been laid bare by Ofsted’s first ever report into education standards across the North West.

Eighty-nine per cent of primary school pupils in St Helens attend schools rated “good” or better but that figure drops to just 47 per cent for local secondary school youngsters.

The 2012/13 report also found that disadvantaged children were not served well across the North West either.

At the age of 16, students eligible for free school meals do less well at GCSE than similar students nationally. Michael Cladingbowl, Ofsted’s regional director for the North West, said: “I am delighted that the North West has the highest proportion of children going to primary schools judged good or better in England. The region’s colleges must also be praised as the North West stands as the top performer nationally.

“However, there is still much to do because for too many pupils, reaching the age of 11 can mark the end of a good education. The performance of secondary schools is variable. As a result it is down to where a child goes to school that will determine whether they receive a good education. This cannot be right and needs urgent attention.”

Earlier this year, Town Hall leader Barrie Grunewald announced that ex-Saints chief executive Sean McGuire would lead a special task force aimed at driving up standards at St Helens’ schools.

Michael Cladingbowl added: “Children from poor families are also being left behind. Closing the achievement gap between these children and their more affluent peers is one of the most important challenges for our education system.

“I am determined to drive improvement through our inspections and improvement work. Ofsted inspectors will monitor, challenge and support those institutions that are underperforming and we will not walk away until education standards improve.”