Liverpool appoints new education chief

Liverpool has appointed a city headteacher to its newly created role of chief education officer.

Heather Duggan has been recruited from Archbishop Blanch Church of England High School in Wavertree, where she had been in charge since 2014.

She drove a huge improvement in attainment which saw the school rise from near the bottom of the table in the city to near top and oversaw the school’s move from the city centre to its new £16 million building in Wavertree as part of Mayor Joe Anderson’s Schools Investment Programme.

Prior to working at Archbishop Blanch, the 41-year-old was assistant head and then deputy head at St John Bosco in Croxteth.

Her career began at St Mary’s Catholic High School in Wigan where she was a class teacher and then head of year.

The post of chief education officer is part of a drive to improve attainment and attendance, and support schools to deliver a curriculum that ensures every pupil has the skills to take get a good job.

Councillor Barbara Murray, cabinet member for education, said: “We had a strong field of candidates for this important position and I am delighted that we have been able to make an excellent appointment.

“Schools are working hard with pupils and parents to deliver improvements in attainment, assisted by the 27 new and refurbished schools we have delivered since 2013, but we want to go much further and faster.

“Heather has a wealth of experience in driving improvements in education and brings with her knowledge of the city and an existing relationship with other headteachers in the city. Both of these will be crucial on the journey of improvement that we want to make, in partnership with our schools.”

Heather was brought up in Fairfield and attended St Margaret’s Church of England Primary School in Anfield before moving on to St Hilda’s in Sefton Park and then studying at Edge Hill University.

She will oversee the performance of schools, pupil place planning, admissions and social inclusion – as well as driving a recruitment and retention strategy for teachers in the city.

Heather Duggan said: “I am hugely excited by this new role, as it brings together my twin passions for both the city of Liverpool and education.

“This city gave me a wonderful education, which enabled me to dream big and achieve my ambitions, and my new position gives me the opportunity to act as a conduit in bringing everyone together to deliver the best education for every child.

“It’s no secret that there is work to do in improving attainment and standards, particularly in some of our secondary schools, and everyone accepts that there are too many pupils absent from lessons too often – so they are really important areas of focus for me.

“But I have already been hugely impressed by the passion and commitment of everyone I have met – both staff and elected members at the council, in our partner organisations and within schools.

“There is so much good practice happening every day and my job is to look at what is working really well and join it all together.

“I am also clear that we need to make sure Liverpool attracts the best teachers and gives them a career path that makes them future education leaders, and I will be working with our schools and universities looking at how we can achieve that.”

Karen Smyth, chair of the Liverpool Association of Secondary Headteachers (LASH), said: ‘We’re thrilled that Heather Duggan has been appointed to such a critical role in the city.

“Heather has been a member of LASH’s steering committee for over a year and she’s often represented secondary heads at various meetings; in doing so has already made a telling contribution to secondary education across the city.

“Her work as chair of the fair access panel, for example, has had a lasting impact on the group’s operation and profile.

“We deeply respect the passion Heather has for our city and the compassion she shows in her dealings with colleagues, and look forward to working with her deeply and strategically to improve our city’s education still further.”

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