Today, (26 Mar), the Children’s Commissioner released a report called ‘Growing up North’, the culmination of a year-long review of the experiences of children growing up in the north of England.
The report notes that while many children in the north are thriving, there is still some entrenched underperformance with too many children lagging behind their southern peers.
The report also sets out recommendations to improve social mobility in the most deprived northern areas.
The government is making a significant investment across infrastructure and education provision in the North to build on progress made across the country.
This includes our £72 million Opportunity Area programme, which targets 12 disadvantaged areas of the country – including five in the North.
These areas will benefit from a share of £22 million through the Essential Life Skills programme, to help young people in these areas develop life skills in resilience, wellbeing and employability.
Commenting on this report, Cllr Stephen Lambert Newcastle City Council,said:
This report is timely. Deeply entrenched deprivation and poverty in inner-city neighbourhoods, the outer council estates of the North and in urban coastal communities is holding thousands back in terms of attainment and job potential. We can and must do better.
That’s why the innovative proposal to set up a North of Tyne Learning Challenge based on the successful inner London model is to be welcomed to help close the class-based achievement gap and access to meaningful vocational opportunities post-16.
Reforming and improving secondary and further education is one thing, but there needs to be a systematic assault on inequalities in the home and wider community as well.
A Government spokesperson said:
We want to create a country where everyone gets the best start in life, no matter what their background is or where they live. That’s why we are investing in projects to raise pupils’ outcomes from an early age, train strong school leaders and support schools in the north, as well as improving outcomes for children in regions that have faced long-term challenges through our 12 Opportunity Areas – five of which are in the north.
This builds on our progress since 2010, with 1.9 million more children in England now in good or outstanding schools, record numbers of young people in education or training - including one million apprenticeships in the north - and more disadvantaged pupils now going to university.
As the Children’s Commissioner notes, many children in the north are now thriving, but there is more to do. Our Northern Powerhouse programme includes £3.4billion investment in projects to boost the local economy, £12million to spread good teaching practice in English and improve early literacy, and schemes that help families to support their child’s education at home.