Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Snapshot of Region Shows Who We Are; ...and It Doesn't All Make Good Reading

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Snapshot of Region Shows Who We Are; ...and It Doesn't All Make Good Reading

Article excerpt

Theo Merz ? 0191 201 6446 ? WHITE, Christian, under-qualified and with worse health than average - this is a picture of the North East today.

Information revealed by the Census shows the North East has the lowest proportion of people with top-level qualifications - university degrees or equivalent - in the country.

The region also comes out bottom for foreign languages and has the lowest proportion of full home-owners apart from London, according to a fresh breakdown of responses to the 2011 Census.

MP for North Tyneside Mary Glindon said a "massive culture change" would be needed to address the educational and health issues raised by the survey.

Just 22.2% of people in the region have a top-level qualification to their name, while in London the figure is 37.7%.

We also have the highest percentage of people with no academic qualifications in England and Wales, with 26.5%, while we have the largest proportion of people whose most advanced qualification is an apprenticeship.

Labour MP Ms Glindon said some of the figures were a cause for concern.

"We have got to change the culture," she said.

"There is a lack of driving people towards aspiration.

Lots of young people don't go to university because they can't see the point."

Liz Todd, professor of education inclusion at Newcastle University, said deprived social backgrounds were the cause of the region's comparatively poor performance.

"We have made a massive improvement in schools all over the region," she said, but added that more investment would still be needed to close the gap in future censuses.

The region had the lowest proportion of people rating their health either as 'very good' or 'good' when the survey was carried out last year. Just over three-quarters of people in the North East put their health in these categories.

"There's a big attitude of 'work hard, play hard' in some parts of the region, and that does affect health," Ms Glindon said. "There are lots of issues we need to address."

Organisations in the North East have cited high levels of smoking and obesity as major factors contributing to comparatively poor health. …

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