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Government Must Tackle Regional Education Differences

January 12, 2016 12:23 PM

farron orationSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has said the government must do more to tackle regional inequalities, following the publication of a damning think tank report which highlights continuing regional inequalities in education.

Analysis of test results from between 1979-2000 suggest there has been "little progress in evening out regional inequalities over three decades", according to the Social Market Foundation. Indeed, the report even concludes that "the geographic area a child comes from has become a more powerful predictive factor [of educational achievement] for those born in 2000 compared to 1970".

The results point to a clear north-south divide. Whilst over 70% of pupils in London achieve five good GCSEs, this figure falls to just 63% in Yorkshire and Humber.

The report argues that "regional differences in attainment are already apparent by the end of primary school and they are observable even when you control for other factors such as ethnicity and income".

Commenting on the study, local MP Tim Farron said: "This report confirms what we already knew - for far too long the north of England has simply been neglected. The government needs to show that it is serious about tackling inequality across different regions of the country. If the northern powerhouse is to become a reality, it needs to be backed up by serious action.

"Whilst in government the Lib Dems made important steps forward by introducing the pupil premium, but more still needs to be done to ensure there is fair opportunity for all.

"The impressive improvements made by schools in London show that it is possible to transform schools and improve achievement levels. We now need to see that same resolve from the government in other areas of the country."

The Social Market Foundation is setting up a commission on inequalities in educational achievement, which will be chaired by Nick Clegg, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats.