TEACHING staff have been praised for their “professionalism and dedication” after primary school outcomes improved in St Helens.

In 2018, 63 percent of children in St Helens achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2 (ages seven to eleven).

This is a five percent increase on the previous year and a 10 per cent rise since 2016.

St Helens is two percentage points behind the North West average and just one percentage point behind the national average for England.

More children in St Helens also reached the expected standards in all Key Stage 1 (five to seven) subjects, reading, writing, science and maths in 2018.

The greatest improvement in Key Stage 1 was in writing, which has seen an 11 per cent increase since 2016.

A jump from 64 per cent in 2017 to 69 per cent in 2018 means St Helens is above the North West average in this area, although it is just below the average for England.

Speaking at cabinet this week, Cllr Joe Pearson, portfolio holder for schools, said outcomes for St Helens are “positive”, showing a continued trend of improved outcomes.

Cllr Pearson said: “The improved outcomes for St Helens further illustrate the high levels of professionalism and dedication provided by staff employed across the primary school sector.

“The local authority remains committed to supporting primary schools and delivering on our vision for all schools in St Helens to be self-improving, high-achieving and nurturing environments for all our children and young people.

“We believe this is best achieved by the school and the local authority continuing to work together to ensure that all pupils educated in St Helens encounter the highest possible quality of teaching, learning in strong, self-improving schools, which work to meet the needs of all children and young people.”

Cllr Pearson said further work is still required to improve further and surpass comparable national averages.

A council report said key to underperformance across the primary sector has been the under achievement of boys, which it said is a “national phenomenon, accentuated in St Helens”.

The report said achievement gaps also exist between disadvantaged pupils and other pupils, evident in Key Stage 2 results.

In 2018, 47 per cent of disadvantaged pupils educated at a state funded St Helens school, pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding, achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at the end of Key Stage 2.

This is a 2 per cent increase when compared to the performance reported by disadvantaged pupils educated in St Helens in the previous 2016-17 academic year.

Cllr Pearson said work is required to ensure outcomes disadvantaged pupils improve “more rapidly”.

He added: “The local authority will continue to work directly with school leaders, teachers and governors across all primary schools in St Helens, particularly with the primary schools in greatest need of improvement so as to support their improvement and champion the needs of our children and young people.”