New research performed by the children’s commissioner for England suggests that parents in the north of England need to do more to push their children in terms of education in order to help them earn higher grades.
Upon completion of a year-long investigation into the matter, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield concluded that students in London and the south-east are 57% more likely to attend higher education institutions that are ranked in the top third than their peers who live in the north. When asked about the low performance of secondary students in the north, Longfield stated the issue was a “huge concern,” adding that low-income students were more likely to perform at an even lower level on their GCSE results.
It was found that only 34% of disadvantaged children in the north of England earn five GCSEs A*-C, which includes English and maths. Meanwhile, the same is true for 48% of their peers living in London.
She went on to say that the goal of the investigation was to attain a better understanding of why the best primary schools in the country existed in the north, as well as the lower rate of employment for adults at 71.1% in comparison to 78% in the south-east, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics last fall.
“We see that children start well but a gap emerges while they are at secondary school. That, coupled with the paucity of job prospects in some areas, seem to combine to really open up a gap that many children can’t get beyond,” said Longfield.
She went on to say that she would be considering an idea that had companies located in high-income areas offering work experience placements to students from low-income areas. The idea came as a a result of complaints from students from Bradford that the work placement plan had been taken away in their area due to cutting costs, reports Helen Pidd for The Guardian.
Prior research performed by Longfield and her team found the education system in the north of England is not poor across the board. Data released as part of the Institute of Education’s Millennium Cohort Study shows children living in the north-west earning higher scores in verbal comprehension than their peers in London by age 11. In addition, it was found that children in the north-west are less likely to have mental illnesses than anywhere else in the country.
This is not the first time the educational gap between the north and south of England has been discussed. Last year, outgoing chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw stated that poor teaching was to blame for the “troubling gap between the performance of secondary schools in the north and Midlands and secondary schools in the rest of the country,” reports Dean Kirby for iNews.
Sir Nick Weller, in charge of an academy chain with schools in the north, suggested just last month that a “teach north” program should be introduced by the government in an effort to attract and retain high-quality teachers to be placed in disadvantaged schools.
Weller stated that, on average, schools in the north receive less funding per-pupil than schools in London, despite showing lower attainment in addition to having higher percentages of disadvantaged students. He went on to say that “monocultural disadvantage” was “a particular problem in the north, whether this is white working-class children in former mining towns or Pakistani students in former mill towns, for example”.
At the same time, Dame Louise Casey reviewed segregation in Britain earlier in the week, concluding that massive change was needed in order to address monocultural schools. To further illustrate her point, she gave an example of a survey taken by students attending non-faith secondary schools that had high Asian populations. When asked to estimate the percentage of the Asian population in Britain, students gave a range of 50% to 90%, although the actual figure is 7%. Casey suggests this is due to a lack of knowledge of the country as a whole.