Knowsley’s schools prop up GCSE tables but a bullish head tells Education Reporter Ben Turner that the future is bright
A HEADTEACHER today predicted secondary schools in Knowsley were on the road to success and criticism should be put on ice – at least for now.
The borough’s secondary schools remain rooted to the foot of the country’s GCSE tables and just under half have received damning Ofsted reports, despite being reinvented as “centres for learning” in a £157m council-led masterplan.
But Martyn Campbell, headteacher at the academically flourishing St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic centre for learning, in Whiston, is confident the secondary schools would hit the heights.
His optimism can be partly explained by the continued success at his own school, where 58% of pupils managed five Cs or above including maths and English at GCSE – almost identical to the national average.
A bullish Mr Campbell said, with primary schools now outperforming their Merseyside neighbours, the centres for learning should only be branded failures if the same children fail to hit the heights when they have gone through high school.
He said: “There have been teething problems and there is no quick fix. But what Building Schools For The Future meant for us was we moved from an old building in Scotchbarn Lane and our school capacity increased from 846 to 1,050 pupils.
“We have brand-new facilities and the council did as well as it possibly could have to fund that.
“Our school has all-weather pitches and is open to the community five nights a week and all weekend.
“If you look at Liverpool, some schools perform lower than Knowsley, but schools like the Blue Coat bring the average up.
“We are a unique authority, very thin geographically, and pupils can step over the border.”
But he said the way schools had invested in “progression programmes” with feeder primary schools was paying dividends.
The partnership sees a senior leadership team going into primaries.
Mr Campbell said: “We build relationships and identify children with special educational needs to prepare them for secondary school.
“We also do booster classes for 10 and 11 year-olds who come into our school every Tuesday and Thursday and work on literacy and numeracy.” He said one-to-one support and after- school homework clubs were also helping his own students performing three levels above what is expected.
He added: “The results will turn around and a lot of hard work has gone into this. It was always going to take time but I am confident of a brighter future.
“The key is to establish that trust with primary school parents, which we have done.
“We are giving them confidence to send their children to our school in the knowledge they will achieve and meet their potential.”