The City of Wolverhampton Council's Director of Education has announced he is standing down from the post on health grounds.
Dr James McElligott, who has overseen big improvements in educational standards in his time as Director of Education with the City of Wolverhampton Council, was taken ill in June and is stepping down following medical advice.
A trained teacher who has held a number of senior positions in education across the country, he joined the City of Wolverhampton Council in July 2013, taking charge of the education department initially as a consultant, before being made Director of Education.
During Dr McElligott's two years at Wolverhampton, the city has gone from having the lowest number of good or outstanding primary schools in the country to having one of the highest rates of improvement. As a result, 77% of primary schools are now rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, compared to 56% two years ago, while 75% of secondary schools are now good or outstanding, up from 57% in 2013.
Educational attainment among pupils has also increased, with 56% of Early Years pupils achieving a good level of development in 2014, compared to 44% in 2013, and 74% of phonics pupils reaching the expected standard in 2014, up from 66% the year before.
Wolverhampton's GCSE students recorded their best ever performance in 2013, while the average points score achieved by post-16 students last year was among the highest in the country.
Dr McElligott has also pioneered the use of Interim Executive Boards to turn around schools placed into Special Measures by Ofsted. These IEBs are driving through change to raise standards, while a number of other failing schools have also been given help and support they require to improve.
Dr McElligott said: "I am extremely disappointed to be leaving at this time, with more important work ahead of us to continue the rapid improvements we are making, but it's the right thing to do for me and my family.
"I have enjoyed my time with the City of Wolverhampton Council immensely, working closely with dedicated education professionals within the council and across our local school network on a wide ranging School Improvement Plan which has raised educational attainment levels over the last two years.
"There is of course still much to be done – and while we have seen a big increase in the number of local schools rated either good or outstanding by Ofsted, and particular improvements in attainment levels at Early Years and Key Stages 1 and 2, there is still much more to do over the coming years to ensure our children receive the best possible standards of education.”
Councillor Claire Darke, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education, said: “Dr McElligott leaves a strong legacy behind him and we are very sad to see him go.
“I would like to wish him all the very best for the future, and I look forward to hearing news of his recovery so that we can provide Dr McElligott with appropriate recognition of his achievements.”
Keith Ireland, Managing Director of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: "I would like to thank Dr McElligott for his sterling work to improve educational standards in the City of Wolverhampton over the last two years.
"He was a strong leader, well respected and valued by headteachers and not afraid to take difficult decisions where a school was not providing the standard of education required.”
Dr McElligott will be succeeded as Director of Education by Julien Kramer. Dr McElligott said: "I'm delighted that this important work is being left in the capable hands of Julien, who brings with him a wealth of experience and ability."