'˜Grim' view of Blackpool secondary schools causes concern

More than half of children in Blackpool are not getting the education they deserve, damning new figures reveal.

Friday, 2nd December 2016, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 4:41 pm
Coun Kath Benson, cabinet member for schools and learning

A report by school inspectors Ofsted shows only 42 per cent of youngsters in the town attend a good or outstanding-rated secondary school.

It means the resort is the third worst in the country for secondary school provision.

But at primary school level 86 per cent of children attend a good or outstanding school. Both figures are marginally up - by seven and eight percentage points - from to last year.

But Andrew Cook, education performance director for Ofsted in the North West, said today: “It is something parents should be very worried about as 42 per cent is grim and Blackpool is in the bottom three local authorities in the country.

“We think all children deserve a good education and many children in Blackpool are not receiving that and that’s a real concern.”

The figures, from Ofsted’s Annual Report for 2015/16, give a state of the nation picture of the performance of education providers across England. They are based on the ratings inspectors give schools, ranging from ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’.

Coun Kath Benson, cabinet member for schools and learning, said: “For 86 per cent of primary school children to go to a good or outstanding primary school is still a very high figure, and those schools are always improving.”

She said there remains ‘work to be done’ but added: “School is about much more than grades or Ofsted ratings.

“It is about aspirational pupils, inspiring teachers and helping youngsters grow up to become well rounded members of their local community.”

Mr Cook said good leadership, teachers and behaviour were key to improving standards in Blackpool. He said: “Whatever has happened up to now has not worked. I think lots of initiatives have been thrown at Blackpool schools and sometimes less is more.

“There have been so many that we have lost sight of what makes a good school. I think it is understood schools in areas of significant deprivation have a huge challenge on their hands, and what we need are good heads and good teachers.

“But barriers to learning that are brought about by deprivation can be overcome although it is tough.”

Mr Cook said he plans to meet education leaders in the town in the new year, to try and improve the situation. All Blackpool’s seven secondary schools are now run as academies and so are no longer under local authority control.

They have three years since becoming academies before they will be inspected again.

The most recent Blackpool secondary school to be inspected was Montgomery which received a rating of ‘requires improvement’ in May this year.