Pupils’ prospects ‘must improve’ in Knowsley

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© Knowsley Council

© Knowsley Council

Knowsley Council’s £1m Education Commission has been launched in response to a report that found that white, working-class pupils continue to under-perform in its schools.

This comes after the council commissioned research by ResPublica to examine long-term under-performance in education attainment.

The findings suggested that pupils in that particular demographic are being held back by limited sixth form provision, a lack of diversity, a ‘start-stop’ syndrome of new initiatives and poor use of resources.

The report suggested ways to tackle the problems, taking a similar approach to a method used to the British Olympic Cycling team, featuring the ‘marginal gains’ strategy of increasing performance across the board to lead to overall success.

It also suggested a ‘Northern Teaching Premium’ for Liverpool and the North that would offer incentives to teachers such as paying off their student debt, offering higher wages, subsided housing or additional professional development.

Mark Morrin, report author and Principal Research Consultant at ResPublica, said: “Setting higher targets for schools and encouraging them to achieve more has been shown to work. This does not mean putting all the pressure on teachers – government, councils and parents all have a role to play and must be involved in the education process from start to finish.

“Knowsley is looking for change and if successful this could work as a benchmark across the country.”

YouTube: Knowsley Council

The report found that grammar schools are more likely to enable children receiving free school meals to achieve as much as those in middle class backgrounds, finding that pupils described as “poor but bright” can have their performance boosted by nearly 10% in grammar schools compared to non-selective schools.

However, Knowsley Council has instead opted to launch its Education Commission, encouraging all 61 schools of the borough to take part.

Officials say this aims draw on the expertise of the commission’s members, work with education providers in Knowsley and across the Liverpool City Region, and design and deliver a locally managed self-improving school’s system.

It is hoped that this will eventually take on the commission’s role in ensuring that the changes and improvements are sustainable.

Councillor Andy Moorhead, Leader of Knowsley Council, said: “We fully recognise that we need to do everything we can to help to improve educational performance in Knowsley. We know that a different approach is needed.

“We know that our schools are becoming increasingly independent so we can’t do this alone and we can’t force them to take part.

“The level of improvement we are aiming at won’t happen overnight, but the Education Commission is a step forward in looking to deliver the very best outcomes for Knowsley pupils.”

About James Jones, JMU Journalism