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The plan to radically improve schools in Blackpool

Education bosses in Blackpool are promising to raise standards in the town's schools. A project called "The Blackpool Challenge" has been created by the council and the Regional Schools Commissioner and is backed by headteachers in the resort’s 40 schools, plus a further 40 learning centres. It is a four-year plan, with an initial £1.25m being pumped into the school system when and where it is needed to try and drive up standards. Professor Sonia Blandford is from Blackpool Challenge and says there are a number of reasons why more needs to be done to improve education in the town.

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Experts respond to Greater Manchester schools criticism

Sir Michael Wilshaw Credit: ITV

Experts at The University of Manchester's Institute of Education have spoken out in response to comments made by Ofsted's chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Sir Michael said that 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."

– Sir Michael Wilshaw

Professor Mel Ainscow CBE, the government's chief advisor for the £50m Greater Manchester Challenge to improve educational outcomes for the region's young people (2008-2011), said:

"The analysis provided by the chief inspector is particularly disappointing given the significant progress made during the period of the Greater Manchester Challenge.

"Independent evaluations concluded that this progress was achieved through the strengthening of collaboraton between schools across the city region. Since then, national policies have fragmented our education system in ways that have set it back."

– Professor Mel Ainscow CBE

Professor Alan Dyson added:

"Sir Michael’s comments are likely to do more harm than good. Unfortunately he has fallen into the habit of stating the obvious – that outcomes are low – without any proper analysis of why this might be the case or what could be done about it.

"Manchester is by no means the only place to have been targeted in this way. The bad news is that things are likely to get worse if the Secretary of State goes ahead and appoints an American chief inspector in Sir Michael’s place."

– Professor Alan Dyson

Secondary education in Manchester and Liverpool 'declining'

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools Credit: PA Images

Secondary schools in Manchester and Liverpool are being criticised as not good enough. The chief inspector of education says the proportion of pupils gaining good GCSE's in both cities is declining.

  • The proportion of Manchester’s pupils gaining good GCSEs declined from 53% two years ago to 46%
  • In Liverpool the percentage fell from 56% to 48% over the same period

At some point we have to accept that our children’s education can be better – or worse – because of the choices we make. 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.

– Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector
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