BOROUGH chiefs have been told to get to grips with the issue of Warrington's most successful pupils going out of the town for college education.

The topic was discussed during Wednesday's scrutiny committee meeting after Steve Peddie, the council's executive director of families and wellbeing, delivered a report on the town's education performance.

It confirmed Warrington's A-level performance is below the national average, except for the percentage of grades A* to E.

However, the document revealed the vast majority of pupils, who perform well at GCSE level, tend to study at colleges outside of Warrington.

Mr Peddie said: "Key stage 5, post-16, is an interesting phenomenon for Warrington because our highest attaining pupils actually go out the borough for post-16 education, so it has an impact on our overall A-level results.

"What we all want to know is are our colleges working as hard as possible to make sure they can compete with colleges over the border to try and encourage young people to remain in the borough?

"Until those pupils who are more aspirational remain in the borough to do their A-levels, we will never be able to actually compete with educational institutions outside the borough."

Cllr Tom Jennings (LAB – Bewsey and Whitecross) raised concerns about sites 'nosediving' and asked Mr Peddie whether there are solid plans in place to improve the situation.

Mr Peddie told Cllr Jennings that he would not want to 'over promise'.

He added: "We have a whole system approach to improve, it is very much led in the school system itself.

"I'm not sure that I can reassure you there is a plan you would want to see in terms of those schools re-orientating the whole borough to become the attractive offer that we want."

Former council leader Cllr Ian Marks (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall) also expressed serious concerns about the situation.

He said: "It's not as though this is a new phenomenon, it has been going on for years.

"I think it is very important that we get to grips with it."

Cllr Jennings has called on borough chiefs to prioritise opening up a dialogue between colleges, in and out of the town, to improve Warrington's offer.

After the meeting, he said: "What is clear from the report, is the best and brightest of Warrington are heading elsewhere for their college education.

"In doing so, they could lose their connection to the town, making it harder to entice them back to work or set up a business here and raise a family.

"Worryingly, there seems to be no plan to rectify this – it's become the norm, officers seem complacent.

"This is unacceptable.

"There needs to be a plan to support improvement and development of our offer, so that no young Warringtonian feels they have to leave the town to get the college education they want and deserve."

Mr Peddie confirmed he will bring further details around the overall plan to a future meeting.

He has also been asked to present figures showing how many pupils are going outside the town for college education, in comparison to other areas.