Manchester and Liverpool failing pupils, says Ofsted chief

The BBC is reporting warnings from the Ofsted chief that failing schools risk causing plans for the government’s so-called Northern Powerhouse to “splutter and die”.

Secondary schools in Liverpool and Manchester are “not firing on all cylinders” due to deteriorating GCSE performances, Sir Michael Wilshaw said.

This could result in a “lack of skills” for the northern economic growth plan, a letter from the watchdog said.

Manchester City Council said “measures are in place to overcome the dip”.

Liverpool City Council said the Northern Powerhouse would be an “empty political slogan” unless it has “more powers to influence education” to deliver the skills businesses want.

In a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research think tank, chief inspector of schools Sir Michael said: “These are the cities that built Britain.

“They pioneered a modern, civic education when students at certain other universities spent most of their time studying the New Testament in Greek.”

He said Manchester and Liverpool “boast eight universities between them, two of which are among the top 200 in the world”.

“If these cities can provide a world-class education for youngsters at 18, why on earth are they failing to do so for too many at 11?” he said.

“At some point, politicians in Manchester and Liverpool will have to accept that the Northern Powerhouse will splutter and die if their youngsters lack the skills to sustain it.”

Ofsted figures show three in 10 Manchester secondaries and four in 10 of those in Liverpool are rated below good.

The proportion of teenagers gaining at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, has dropped in both cities.

In a separate letter, Ofsted’s regional director has written to education authorities in Greater Manchester and Knowsley, Merseyside, about “concerns” over pupil outcomes…

More at: Manchester and Liverpool failing pupils, says Ofsted chief


Read Sir Michael’s speech in full: Sir Michael Wilshaw speech at IPPR

And Ofsted’s own press release on the story at: Chief Inspector calls for education to be central to Manchester and Liverpool’s strategies for growth


See also: Lucy Powell: You can’t build a northern powerhouse if you undermine the local schools


Clearly a complex issue but what do you make of the warnings issued here by Sir Michael?

If you agree his concerns have merit, where do you see the solutions coming from?

Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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Privately educated elite continues to take top jobs
Lucy Powell: You can’t build a northern powerhouse if you undermine the local schools
Categories: Local authorities, Policy and Secondary.


  1. libraryninja

    SchoolsImprove adequate funding, trusting teachers to do their job and Libraries in primary schools + more Public Libraries wld help.

  2. Lambasting northern LAs can be counterproductive and lock them in a cycle of decline.  This is particularly true of tiny Knowsley which receives yet another kicking.  Ofsted regional director for the North West acknowledged that high-ability secondary pupils were applying for schools out of Knowsley – this exodus will only increase following repeated criticism.  The flight will only make it more difficult for Knowsley schools to raise results.
    That said, Ofsted monitoring of four out of the six Knowsley secondary schools found they were taking ‘effective action’ to improve.  Shame that Wilshaw and his regional director didn’t take note of that.  But attacking struggling schools is more macho than encouragement and plays well with the media.
    I write in more detail here including the point that if Manchester’s four uninspected secondaries are judged good or better then Manchester’s proportion of such schools would exceed the national average.

  3. Labster73

    SchoolsImprove Our Primary Head has just resigned, due to continually moving goal posts and box ticking exercises. #ShameOfTheNation

  4. Kathfanderson

    SchoolsImprove London-centric, disinvesting Tory govt failing the North says everyone else. Motivation grows when success seems achievable.

  5. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove More positivity from Wilshaw; the moral in schools in those areas will plummet as a result plus recruitment already an issue

  6. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Every time he speaks he spews negativity regarding edu; sooner he’s out the better, although the replacement may be worse…

  7. Julie_Cordiner Same happened in Yorkshire.  But the excoriating letter to Leeds was unjustified as I wrote here (updated today to include 2015 results)
    Perhaps Ofsted’s Regional Director will retract his letter to Leeds.  But I’m not holding my breath.

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