Cash for sea change

2nd July 1999 at 01:00
Give poorest more, says Church

JUMP IN a cab to Seaforth, 20-minutes ride from the city centre, and you'll see a sobering picture of Merseyside life.

Here, Phil Gretton, head of Our Lady Star of the Sea RC primary is working to lift his pupils' aspirations above those of their parents, many of whom have experienced unemployment and financial hardship on a scale unimagined before the demise of the docks.

So far he has succeeded. Mr Gretton said: "We've been lucky, we've been able to get outside funding. If you're in this sort of area you do need extra help not just once but every year.

"We have to bid for our extra funding again and again. If we could rely on it, it would be easier to plan ahead."

For five years the school got grants from the Bootle Maritime City Challenge Area and has also had European urban regeneration money. Investment has turned the school into an oasis in a neighbourhood characterised by drug dependency and teenage pregnancy.

This year's 11-year-olds' results were impressive, with 82 per cent hitting level 4 in English, and 91 per cent in maths, despite the fact that more than half of the 210 pupils are on free meals.

Mr Gretton says other local schools should have the same level of investment, but admits "there just isn't enough money".

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