Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North's Poor Pupils Trail Counterparts in London

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North's Poor Pupils Trail Counterparts in London

Article excerpt

Byline: Hannah Graham Reporter @HannahGraham21

CHILDREN growing up in poverty in the North lag a whole GCSE grade behind those from a similar background in London.

It's long been known that children classed as 'disadvantaged' tend to net lower scores than those from wealthy backgrounds, but this gap widens for Northern pupils, according to a national newspaper. A report by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership shows disadvantaged children in the North scored an average of 39.9 points across the main eight subjects at GCSE - 13 points below the national average.

By contrast, disadvantaged children in London performed 6.5 points ahead of deprived northerners. On the new 1-9 GCSE scoring system, this means the London pupils were scoring an average grade of nearly 6 (roughly equivalent to a high B) as opposed to just under a 5 (closer to an old-style C).

Even when wealthier pupils are taken into account, a North-South divide still exists, with pupils in the North a third of a grade below the national standard across all subjects, and almost half a grade lower in mathematics.

Mike Parker, director of Schools North East, said a grade difference of this size could affect students' university and job prospects, but also that it showed northern children were leaving school with less knowledge and experience.

And he claimed the region's schools would never be able to bridge the gap with London until they had comparable levels of support and funding. He said: "The monumental sums of money that were pumped into London schools, which lifted them from the worst to the best, are so at odds with the system here in the North, where schools are left struggling on a fraction of the money London schools have. Money can't fix education alone, but if you're a disadvantaged school in the North you don't have anywhere near the access to funding, expertise, you can't free teachers up to attend training - it's a vicious cycle for disadvantaged schools which they can't escape without additional support and money."

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah called on new Education Secretary Damian Hinds to focus on the North East "as a matter of urgency". …

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