“Children from deprived backgrounds face the worst prospects in some of the richest parts of the country, according to a damning new study that lays bare deep geographical divisions across Britain.
An annual report by the government’s own social mobility watchdog warns that while London and its suburbs are pulling away, rural, coastal and former industrial areas are being left behind.
The State of the Nation report finds that some of the wealthiest areas in England – including west Berkshire, the Cotswolds and Crawley, deliver worse outcomes for their disadvantaged children than places that are much poorer, such as Sunderland and Tower Hamlets. …
… Other findings include that:
51% of children on free school meals in London achieve A* to C grades in English and maths GCSE compared with a 36% average in all other regions.
There is a gulf between the highest figures of 63% in Westminster and the lowest, 27% on the Isle of the Wight
Meanwhile in Kensington and Chelsea, 50% of disadvantaged youngsters make it to university compared with just 10% in Hastings, Barnsley and Eastbourne
Some of the worst performing areas, such as Weymouth and Portland, and Allerdale, are rural not urban
In fact, in 71, largely rural areas, more than 30% of the people earn below the voluntary living wage – with average wages in west Somerset just £312 a week, less than half of the best performing areas
In Bolsover just 17% of residents are in jobs that are professional and managerial positions compared with 51% in Oxford
The study says that a critical factor in the best performing councils is the quality of teachers available, with secondary teachers 70% more likely to leave the profession in deprived areas.
Although richer parts of Britain do tend to outperform more deprived areas overall in the social mobility index designed by researchers, that isn’t always true. Some of the most affluent areas do worse for the poor kids than some of the least well off.
Coastal areas are a focus of the report, with warnings about schools being isolated. Recommendations include more collaboration between schools and subsidised travel for disadvantaged young people in isolated areas. The commission also calls for central government to fund a push for schools in rural and coastal areas to work together.
They also say that the government should rebalance the national transport budget to help tackle regional disparities. …
…. The report calls for the Department for Education’s £72m funding for opportunity areas to be matched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in order to link up schooling and workplace opportunities.”