Schools need urgent rethink to stop declining standards – ‘put wellbeing first’

“Could do better” is definitely the comment on Liverpool Council’s end of term report as figures from the House of Lords reveal that Liverpool is badly lagging behind other major cities on exam results.

Liverpool’s GCSE scores have been in decline over the past 5 years, with the percentage gaining 5 or more GCSEs, including English and Maths dropping from 48.6% in 2014/15 to 36.1% in 2018/19.  Of the core cities, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield, Birmingham, Newcastle and London are all outperforming Liverpool. 

These are extracted from figures obtained from the House of Lords Library at the request of local Lib Dem Peer, Lord Storey.

In responding to the figures, Liverpool Lib Dem’s Children’s Spokesperson, Cllr Liz Makinson says,

2These shocking figures come at a time when the mental health of schoolchildren is in crisis and it begs the question of whether we are failing our young people. 

Although there is fantastic work going on in the city with hard working and dedicated teachers, it is time for a rethink of the highly pressurised environment in schools and to put student and teacher well- being at the heart of decision making.  A constant round of top down micromanagement with book looks, learning walks, and the abandonment of a cooperative approach to teaching and learning has created a toxic environment in many schools.   

At the same time, giving reduced time and emphasis to pastoral care and personal development lessons in many schools has given students fewer tools and less resilience with which to meet the challenges they face, both academic and personal. 

It is time for a survey of teachers in the city to find out where the issues are and then look at positive ways to not only improve the academic performance but recognise that well- being is at the heart of successful schools”.  

My view is that it is all very well having a grandiose Liverpool Recovery Plan but if we are not educating our young people to a high enough standard the jobs created will go to outsiders often coming in from far afield places in the Greater Manchester area.

This is a real educational crisis and giving our children a strong start in life must be the Council’s priority.

Table 1. GCSE results by city percentage of pupils achieving grades above a threshold), 2014/15 to 2018/19 

      
  2014/15   %  5+ A*-C including English and Maths2015/16 %  A*-C in English and Maths2016/17 %  grade 5 or above English and Maths2017/18%  grade 5 or above English and Maths2018/19 %  grade 5 or above English and Maths
Manchester47.555.334.935.635.5
Leeds55.561.439.340.941.6
Liverpool48.656.637.335.936.1
Nottingham42.450.43132.832.7
Bristol5459.5414138.6
Sheffield5461.839.14038.8
Birmingham54.359.940.240.142.5
Newcastle55.761.735.440.338.7
London60.966.448.248.749
Sorry I can’t get the graphics right. Just more the heading along one space!!

Table 2. A level results by city (average point score per entry), 2014/15 to 2018/19

2014/152015/162016/172017/182018/19
Manchester212.531.2131.4531.8132.69
Leeds206.128.1429.9231.1631.77
Liverpool20728.1329.4830.1230.6
Nottingham203.327.929.1730.3730.71
Bristol210.330.1830.9331.5732.69
Sheffield211.730.830.6932.5332.85
Birmingham212.929.7430.431.6232.37
Newcastle207.428.1229.230.5532.82
London213.130.4631.4332.2232.75

(Source: Department for Education, ‘Statistics: 16 to 19 attainment’ [Local authority data tables for each year], 29 April 2020)

The APS figures for 2014/15 are not directly comparable as a new grade score system was introduced from 2015/16:

A new point score system has been used in both the 2016 performance tables and this SFR [statistical first release]. The old system used a scale of 150–300 for A levels, where a grade A* was given 300 points and a grade E was equal to 150 points. The new system uses a simpler scale of 10–60 points for A levels, where a grade A* is given 60 points and a grade E is given 10 points.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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