Claims that schools resisting support from St Helens Council

Council leader Derek Long said the authority remains dissatisfied with the performance of St Helens secondary schools as a whole.
Council leader Derek Long said the authority remains dissatisfied with the performance of St Helens secondary schools as a whole.

St Helens Council has seen recent “resistance” from schools to accept support, the councillor who oversees education in the borough has revealed.


Cabinet members were updated on the performance of secondary schools during 2017-18 at its meeting on Wednesday.

Council leader Derek Long said the authority remains “dissatisfied” with the performance of St Helens secondary schools as a whole.

However, the Labour leader acknowledged the local authority often has no direct control over schools.

Coun Joe Pearson, cabinet member for developing young people, revealed that recent resistance to support has been “quite difficult”.

Coun Pearson said: “There have been some incidents recently where there’s been resistance to our school improvement team going in and giving assistance to those schools.

“In one or two cases that resistance has been quite difficult.

“However, I’m confident that our senior managers are aware of those difficulties and are currently working with them.

“We have to find a way of working with schools where we don’t manage but we do have an interest in, because those schools educate the children of our town.”

Cabinet approved proposals to commission out-of-borough secondary teaching schools, those judged by Ofsted to be outstanding, to work with and support secondary schools in St Helens.

A cabinet report said the council will continue to focus “relentlessly” on underperforming secondary schools to ensure such schools improve “rapidly”.

The report said the council will hold secondary schools to account through achievement and improvement boards.

In January, the Department for Education revealed that three St Helens schools were among the worst performing in the country, after failing to meet government performance standards at GCSE.

The schools were De La Salle School, St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School and St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic High School.

Coun Pearson said that, while the GCSE results reported for St Helens in 2018 show some small areas of improvement compared to 2017, taken as a whole they continue to remain “disappointing”.

He said student rates of progress show that people educated in St Helens make, on average, less academic progress than other pupils nationally, particularly in core subjects.

“As a consequence, too many secondary schools in the borough report progress outcomes that are either below or well below the national average,” Cllr Pearson said.

“Considerable work is required by schools and the local authority to ensure collective outcomes in St Helens improve.

“And the outcome for particular groups of pupils such as disadvantaged pupils improve more rapidly.

“The local authority remain committed to working with all secondary schools across the borough to support their improvement and importantly to champion the needs of all out children and young people.”