Schools are top of the class

School pupils celebrate

Liverpool has more schools classed as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ than any other big city in the country.

Despite a more rigorous framework being introduced by education watchdog OFSTED at the start of the year, 77 percent of the 168 schools in the city have got the top two rankings. More than half are good (53 percent) and almost a quarter (24 percent) are outstanding.

And, for the last 18 months, no school in the city has been classed as failing by being judged ‘inadequate’ or given a ‘notice to improve’.

Earlier this month, OFSTED announced that ‘good’ is the minimum standard it expects from schools. The statistics show that it places Liverpool is in a stronger position than every other big city and region in the country.

In Manchester, 66 percent of schools are classed as good or outstanding; in Birmingham it is 68 percent, while Bristol (59 percent), Newcastle (70 percent), Nottingham (69 percent) and Sheffield (66 percent) all lag behind Liverpool.

It is a major turnaround from just over a decade ago, when 25 schools were judged to have either serious weaknesses or be in special measures, and the education service was on the brink of being privatised because it was failing children.

Councillor Jane Corbett, Cabinet member for education, said: “This is an incredible achievement and is testament to the extremely strong and positive relationship between schools, teaching staff, governing bodies and the local authority’s School Improvement Service in driving up standards and giving children the best possible start in life.

“For a city the size of Liverpool, with all the challenges that deprivation levels bring, to have over three quarters of its schools classed as good or outstanding is just fantastic.

“I would like to pass on my thanks to each and every one of our schools for their help, support and willingness to work together with us on identifying weaknesses and challenging poor performance.

“It places us in a really strong position to meet the increased standards demanded by OFSTED.

“But we are not complacent and are working hard through the new Education Commission chaired by Estelle Morris to identify ways in which we can further improve exam results, and make sure our young people leave school with all the skills they need to lead successful lives.”

Support provided by the council’s School Improvement Service to help them improve includes regularly reviewing recommendations made by Ofsted and sharing best practice from other schools across the city.

Blueberry Park Primary School in Dovecot has seen a remarkable turnaround since a damning OFSTED inspection in 2008. A new Board of Governors and leadership team were appointed and its latest inspection in May 2012 moved it up from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘good’ – despite the more rigorous regime, which was carried out with just two days notice.

Headteacher Kathryn Honey said: “We are all so proud of what the school has achieved over the last few years.

“It is fantastic that our hard work and effort has been recognised by the inspectors who know we are doing all we can to deliver a great education.

“It really has been a team effort involving pupils, parents and carers as well as our governors and staff.”

Exam results in the city are also at record levels, with provisional figures for 2012 showing the number of students getting five good GCSE results including English and Maths is above the national average for the first time ever.