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Task group to lead drive for excellence in St Helens schools
9:28am Thursday 5th September 2013 in News
EVERY secondary school in St Helens will be set the long-term target of achieving outstanding status as part of a bold vision to raise the standards of education in the town.
The drive for improvement – among the most significant moves of St Helens Council leader Barrie Grunewald since he gained power in May – will also put raising children’s expectations and boosting employability skills at its heart.
Cllr Grunewald has warned that the council will not shy away from using formal powers to intervene at under-performing schools and other providers.
Entrusted with forming the plan, will be a newly assembled education task group, made up of leading figures from schools, colleges and business.
Grunewald made improving education a top priority when he took command at the town hall in May.
He has previously expressed concern that not one of the nine secondary school is ranked as outstanding and that low levels of aspiration blight some pupils.
The task group will be chaired by Sean McGuire, the ex-Saints rugby league chief executive, who is head of Ambitious Minds, a company that delivers life skills training for young people.
It will be assisted by the London-based RSA Action and Research Centre, a body that has previously conducted an independent inquiry in Suffolk into improving pupil attainment and readiness for work.
Grunewald said: “I am determined to create a distinctive vision of education in St Helens.
“We are committed to ensuring that our secondary schools all achieve outstanding status and deliver the best possible life chances for our young people.
“Many growing up are disengaged, they are not connected, and many sadly believe their future does not lie in this town.
“The will be to drive up school improvement and examine how to best equip our children with the skills for the future.
“I am absolutely committed to ensuring that attainment levels across the borough will improve and that action will be taken where improvement is weak.
“Our mantra is simple – every child matters, no school left behind.”
The council will also offer support to governors and challenge them about the proper use of funding and the quality of their school environment.
In a statement, McGuire, a former West Park pupil, said the creation of this group is an “unusual opportunity” improve young people’s prospects.
He said: “We will be seeking ways to boost educational attainment, improve employability skills and raise expectations so that our young people can aspire and achieve, and create the exciting futures for themselves that we all want them to have.”
Education task group: Sean McGuire (chairman), Ambitious Minds chief executive; Kath Boullen St Helens Chamber; Jette Burford, St Helens College principal; Father Phil Swanson, of the Catholic schools sector; John Pout, Rainhill High headteacher; Andy Pollard, Haydock High headteacher; Kirsty Haw primary headteacher executive head teacher of St Mary and St Thomas' and Merton Bank Primary School; Patsy Wade primary headteacher at St Austin’s RC primary School; Councillor Sue Murphy, cabinet member for schools and lifelong learning, Andy Dempsey St Helens Council’s director of children and young people’s services. There will also be two nominees from RSA.
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