Praise for Hartlepool's 'wonderful children' as report shows town falling behind in education averages

Education bosses praised ‘some wonderful children’ in Hartlepool despite a report showing they are below national averages for standards at the end of key stage 4.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 5:00 pm
Stock picture from PA
Stock picture from PA

Hartlepool Borough Council Children’s Services Committee received an update on pupil performance measures for Hartlepool for 2019 across all Key Stages.

The report found Hartlepool was largely above national average for the performance of pupils from reception up to key stage two, and was in the top half of all local authorities for most measures.

However standards at the end of key stage 4 in 2019 were generally below national averages.

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During key stage 4 most pupils work towards national qualifications - usually GCSEs.

Progress from key stage two to key stage four also dropped in 2019 in Hartlepool, with the authority in the bottom quartile (bottom 25%) for this measure.

Several councillors raised concerns over the difficult circumstances and situations children in Hartlepool face.

However teachers also praised ‘some wonderful young people’ they see coming through in the town.

Council officers added they are working alongside secondary school headteachers to improve performance and highlight children in need of support.

Mark Tilling, headteacher at High Tunstall College of Science, said: “I think the sector is working extremely hard to meet a diverse range of needs.

“Ultimately we have got some young people in this town who are doing exceptionally well and go on to do exceptional things, and teachers are working day in and day out, social workers working day in and day out.

“They are working to help some very, very wonderful young people in the town, and sometimes we miss that when we look at statistics.”

Councillors and education bosses noted they are targeting improving issues such as transfers and transitions between schools and pupil attendance.

Joanne Wilson, headteacher at St Cuthbert’s RC School, said: “I think the transition is still a big factor, we’re trying to support secondary schools in that.

“Primary to secondary is so different that we’re still trying to find our way in that, I think we’ve improved but I still don’t think it’s right. I think it’s for all of us to look at that.”

Council officers also noted they are due to receive funding from the Department for Education to pilot some work looking at improving the transition between primary and secondary schools.

Coun Marjorie James said they should offer opportunities such as summer schools, and they need to provide hope to young people in the town.

She said: “Kids should have hope, if they can’t have hope at 14 and 15 when are they going to have hope. We really need to get to those kids.”

Coun Lesley Hamilton said more money is needed to help tackle the issues, which is not being made available.

She said: “Problems are getting bigger by the day, unfortunately the money is not coming to provide those families with the support they need.

“If the money is not there and the resources aren’t there it becomes a very difficult task.”