Taskforce still to report on borough’s failing schools

A report into the borough's secondary schools has yet to be published almost three years after the body set up to produce it was created
A report into the borough's secondary schools has yet to be published almost three years after the body set up to produce it was created
Share this article

A taskforce set up to address falling standards in St Helens schools has yet to report its finding ... almost three years after it was established.

The group - headed by former Saints chief executive Sean McGuire - was created by council leader Barrie Grunewald following the publication of a damning Ofsted report into the borough secondary schools.

We must all strive for excellence for all. Too many young people end up leaving St Helens because they don’t believe their futures lie here. I want that to change

Council leader Barrie Grunewald

Bizarrely, many of the town’s primaries are among Britain’s top performing but several recent report have concluded St Helens has one of the highest number of failing secondary schools in the country.

Coun Grunewald established the taskforce with the intention of the drawing together an action plan to improve 11-plus education, under the mantra ‘Every child matters’.

But the St Helens Reporter can reveal the taskforce is yet to publish a single line of proposals.

The group was set up in early 2013.

Documents obtained by the Reporter, under the Freedom of Information Act, show a draft report is currently being working on and will be made public in “due course”.

But the council blamed recent changes to the education system for the delay.

The report states: “The taskforce has been in recess for a year whilst many of the changes with local education arrangements have had the opportunity to bed in.

“The Taskforce reconvened on October 15 to review progress and it was agreed at that meeting that the RSA (the consultants supporting the process) would pull together a draft report for consideration by the independent chair and taskforce in due course.

“At this stage there is no report of the taskforce to be disclosed.”

The establishment of the taskforce was one of the first acts of Coun Grunewald’s tenure in office and was revealed in his first speech as council leader since ousting Marie Rimmer, who is now one of the borough’s MPs.

At the time, he said: “The task force will focus on achieving improvements in education for St Helens – we’re committed to doing everything we can to help improve attainment for our young people.

“At the moment, not a single secondary school in St Helens in rated as ‘outstanding’. I pledge to work with our schools to help them reach ‘outstanding’ status – something which will require much more collaboration between all schools.

“We will intervene in under-performing schools and will use all powers available to us as a local authority. I’ve also created a new cabinet position for education and lifelong learning to help give our young people the best chance in life.”

Coun Grunewald added: “We must all strive for excellence for all. Too many young people end up leaving St Helens because they don’t believe their futures lie here. I want that to change.

“Every child should grow up with high hopes.”