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Labour condemns widening regional attainment gap for students – Sector Reaction

Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister

Labour condemns widening regional attainment gap as students across the North and Midlands held back by Conservatives’ “managed decline of education standards”

Labour condemns widening regional attainment gap as students across the North and Midlands held back by Conservatives’ “managed decline of education standards”

Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan accused the Conservatives of “overseeing the managed decline of education across the North of England and Midlands” after new research from Labour showed attainment gaps widened.

Students across London and the South East were almost 40% more likely to get top A or A* grades compared to students in the North East.

Meanwhile, A and A* grades have been rising since 2019 in London and the South whilst falling in the North East and Yorkshire and Humber.

This unequal results day picture follows the Conservatives’ failure to take action to support students’ learning post-pandemic, with only one in seven secondary school students receiving any support from government-funded tutoring this year.

Labour today has warned that the attainment gap threatens to hold young people back across the English regions, but particularly in the North East, in getting on in life, while weakening towns and local economies.  

Labour has pledged to drive high and rising standards in state schools as part of its mission to break down barriers to opportunity by recruiting thousands more teachers and investing to retain world class educators in our classrooms by ending private schools’ tax breaks.

Stephen Morgan MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, said:

“Students receiving their results have worked incredibly hard despite enormous challenges, yet these results show that the Tories have failed to level the playing field.

“Students in the North East are no less capable but after 13 years of Conservative governments they’re seeing their results go backwards compared to their peers across the South of England.

“After Rishi Sunak said the Conservatives had ‘maxed out’ on support for young people, it’s hard not to conclude that the Conservatives are happy to see the managed decline of educational standards across the parts of our country.

“Labour will shatter the class ceiling, so background is no barrier, putting thousands more teachers in our schools and giving all young people pathways with good prospects.
According to figure supplied by Labour: Young people in London and the South East were 1.36 and 1.38 times as likely to get top A/A* grades than students in the North East – almost 40% more likely. The source of the data can be found attached.

 % at Grade A / A*
Region20192023Change% change
North East2322-1-4%
North West23.524.10.63%
Yorks and Humber23.223-0.2-1%
West Mids2222.90.94%
East Mids2122.31.36%
South West25.826.30.52%
South East28.330.327%
Difference between highest/lowest region7.38.3114%
  • Just one in seven secondary school pupils has received any government funding tutoring this year
 2021 – 222022-23
State-funded secondary3,567,3783,630,171
Received tutoring914,342534,352
One in X pupils3.96.8

Sector Reaction Comments:

Commenting on Labour’s press release about the widening regional attainment gap in top A-level grades in England, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“The A-level statistics tell a grim story – the gap in top grades between the wealthiest and least wealthy regions of England has widened since 2019.
“We repeatedly warned the government that disadvantaged young people were worst affected by the pandemic and the government’s own education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins resigned in protest at the government’s underinvestment in supporting these young people.
“The damage done by the pandemic has been exacerbated by soaring inflation which has put more pressure on disadvantaged families.
“The government must address this situation by ensuring that schools and colleges serving disadvantaged communities have the teachers and funding they need, and that there is more support available to assist families and children who are struggling with the cost of living.
“Educational outcomes are closely tied to levels of disadvantage and there has long been an attainment gap between rich and poor which now appears to be widening. We have to break out of this spiral of inequity.”

Notes from Labour:

Pupil numbers:

Tutoring 2021/22:

Tutoring 2022/23:

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