Hartlepool secondary schools react after being named the fourth worst in national Ofsted table

St Hild's Church of England School on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool.
St Hild's Church of England School on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool.

CHILDREN are not being given required education standards after a Government watchdog put the town in the bottom four of a national league of shame.

New figures reveal Hartlepool secondary schools are among the worst in the country with only a third of pupils attending a good or outstanding school.

But angry headteachers have hit back and described Ofsted’s ratings system as “crude”, arguing they don’t give the full picture of education in Hartlepool.

There is brighter news when it comes to primary school children attending good or outstanding schools though as Hartlepool is in the top 40.

But it is the secondary schools that are raising concern nationally.

Hartlepool has five secondary schools, including two which are rated satisfactory, Manor College of Technology and High Tunstall College of Science, and one requiring improvement - St Hild’s Church of England Voluntary Aided School.

Colin Reid, headteacher at St Hild’s, said: “There is only a very small number of secondary schools in Hartlepool which means the statistics can be skewed.

“Schools that require improvement are not failing schools. They are schools that are improving but have not yet reached the point where the Government would class them as good all round.

“You could say every school in the country could improve somewhere, and these tables are very frustrating. Every school in Hartlepool would tell you that there are areas they can improve on.”

Anne Malcolm, headteacher of Manor College of Technology, said: “I think we need to look beyond Ofsted inspections and reports to get a rounded view as to how schools are performing.

“We pride ourselves on high achievement and standards at Manor College and work extremely hard to ensure students reach their full potential and are fully equipped to progress in life after leaving school.

“We are always striving to improve and do the very best for our students.”

Mark Tilling, headteacher at High Tunstall, said: “These tables and percentages can be very misleading because we only have five secondary schools.

“Every school is working hard to raise standards, but there is a dichotomy where some schools are funded less than others.

“Standards will rise if we continue to work together and if everyone is moving in the same direction.”

Mr Tilling added results had remained fairly static since the last inspection in 2012, but said the staff and students were “working very hard”.

The other two schools, English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College is rated good following its January 2012 inspection, while Dyke House Sports and Technology College is rated outstanding, following their last full inspection in 2007.

Michael Lee, head at English Martyrs, said: “My initial response is that it is a very crude measure to judge schools by.

“All it would take is for one school to go from requiring improvement to good and the whole picture would be very different.”

Andrew Jordon, headteacher at Dyke House, said: “The figures are probably skewed because there are only five schools.

“From our perspective, we are doing all that we can to maintain an outstanding school and last year in particular we were really pleased with the progress in terms of achievement and attainment.”

Labour councillor Chris Simmons, the chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s children’s services committee, said the disparity between primary and secondary school performance was one of the first issues highlighted by the new council administration.

He added: “Since then we have been working very closely with secondary schools and Ofsted to drive up standards across the town.

“Indeed, this summer saw an increase of over nine per cent in the number of our secondary students achieving the national standard of five A* to C GCSEs including maths and English.

“Robust plans are now in place which are being regularly reviewed and I am confident that we will see a further improvement in secondary school standards next summer.

“Education will remain a high priority for the council and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide the best possible start in life for children and the young people of our town.”