Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Postcode Lottery of Education Revealed; in Poor Areas One in Five Lack Qualifications

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Postcode Lottery of Education Revealed; in Poor Areas One in Five Lack Qualifications

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicola Weatherall

NEARLY one in five adults in some parts of the North East have no qualifications, an analysis of official figures suggests.

A new study by the University and College Union (UCU) reveals wide differences in the educational achievements of adults across the country and between different parts of the region.

People living in Gateshead and Newcastle Central are roughly twice as likely to have no qualifications as people living in the neighbouring constituencies of Newcastle East and Newcastle North.

The UCU says the analysis reveals the full extent of the "postcode lottery" when it comes to educational underachievement in the North East today.

Nearly one in five people in Gateshead have no qualifications, compared to one in 10 in Newcastle North and Newcastle East. In Tynemouth, just 7.7% have no qualifications.

Over half of the Tyne and Wear constituencies - seven out of 12 - have a higher than average percentage of people with no qualifications, with three, Gateshead, Newcastle Central and Washington and Sunderland West, ranked in the bottom 100.

Iain Owens, regional spokesman for the UCU, said: "This confirms what we have always believed - that people living in working class areas are less likely to have formal qualifications and this is about to become worse by the rising university fees and the scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance."

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said schools can be the difference, but added they have a difficult job ahead of them. "The terrible truth is that the strongest predictor of educational achievement is still parental income," she said. "Newcastle has some of the highest rates of child poverty and unemployment in the country. We also have affluent neighbourhoods and much poorer ones.

"But schools can help even out inequalities - that was certainly my experience. …

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