New research has shown that children in the north of the country do not perform at school as well as their peers down south.
The study, conducted by the Growing Up North project, showed that northern children are falling behind their southern counterparts due to a stark educational divide.
Figures revealed, for example, that the 6.2% of boys reach a higher standard at Key Stage 2 in Thames Valley – almost three times greater than the number in 2.2% in Liverpool, and in London, the proportion of 11-year-olds meeting the expected standard in inner London was 10 percentage points higher than in the Leeds and Liverpool areas.
Liverpool in particular appeared to fare badly throughout the survey, with the statistics also highlighting that just 58% of children achieve English and Maths GCSEs in the city, while in London the figure is 66%.
However, Greater Manchester was also noted as an area to improve, as the proportion of five-year-olds achieving the expected level across all early learning goals was 62% – 10 percentage points lower than the south-east region.
Children’s commissioner Anne Longfield, who heads up Growing Up North, said that children in these regions were being unfairly disadvantaged from a young age.
Speaking at a Northern Powerhouse conference in Manchester earlier this week, she explained: ‘The education gaps that exist, not only between north and south, but within different parts of the north, need to be tackled urgently. There are 3.5 million children in the north and every one of them deserves the best opportunities to build happy, healthy and prosperous lives.’
‘The Northern Powerhouse and regional devolution are a once in a lifetime opportunity to bridge these divides, and unless children are put at the heart of this agenda, it will fail.’
The publication of the report is not the first time this year that the discrepancies between northern and southern education have been highlighted.
In February, MP George Osborne said that the split required ‘urgent attention’.
‘Our education system, right the way from the start of school to higher education, must provide the next generation with the skills, inspiration and training to fulfil their goals and build our economy,’ he declared.
‘There is now overwhelming evidence that attainment at 16 is too low in the north, leaving us lagging behind UK and international competitors. We also let go of far too many talented graduates.’