AN education expert will be recruited to become the independent chair of a St Helens School Improvement Board that will be tasked with driving up standards.

The position – which comes with a pay of £500 per meeting – is being created by St Helens Council as part of a new school effectiveness strategy that has been signed off by senior councillors.

He or she will head a School Improvement Board to scrutinise the work of under-performing schools from the autumn term of 2014.

The board will have powers to hold schools account, and make recommendations for action to improve outcomes for pupils.

The Schools Commissioner will be reporting to the council’s chief executive Carole Hudson and the council leader Barrie Grunewald on the work of the board and progress of underperforming schools.

The job advert, listed on the council’s website, states that the chair will pick up the payment per session, though there will be a maximum of 20 meetings each year, with an average of six expected.

It reads: “He or she will have a track record both of leadership of a successful school, and of working effectively with underperforming schools.

“The role would suit a recently retired head teacher.”

The Star revealed earlier this year how schools were facing a tough new regime that will see head teachers put under greater pressure.

It follows a series of alarming Ofsted reports at secondary level.

It will also aim to tackle the worrying trend which is seeing too many pupils slipping backwards after a good foundation at primary schools.

The key aims are to promote high achievement among children to ensure they reach their full potential and raise progress among vulnerable pupils.

Although the performance of primary schools in St Helens is among the best in the country, with 89 per cent rated as ‘good, or ‘better’ by Ofsted, not one secondary school has been judged ‘outstanding’.

Haydock, Rainhill and Cowley were judged ‘good’ at their last inspections. But Rainford and De La Salle were told to improve and St Augustine’s was judged inadequate.

St Cuthberts was also told to improve last year but the council says a new report shows it is on the right path.

Of the academies, Sutton was judged to require improvement while Hope was placed in special measures earlier this year.