Osborne calls on government to turn around Northern schools

Education is key to the future of the Northern Powerhouse,” George Osborne will tell MPs today (Wednesday 2 May).

George Osborne and Lord Jim O’Neill will call on the government to commit to the same number of Northern schoolchildren attending good or outstanding schools as those in London by 2022.

Appearing before the Education Select Committee, former Chancellor George Osborne and Lord Jim O’Neill, chair and vice-chair respectively of The Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), will address why the North’s educational attainment lags behind the rest of the UK.

Bridging the gap

Currently, 94% of London children in secondary schools attend a school rated ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’, compared to 74% across the North.

Bridging the gap to London would mean an extra 430,000 Northern children in the whole school system in 2022 would have the opportunity to attend an outstanding or good secondary school.

Mr Osborne and Lord O’Neill will tell the Committee that there are five key steps to achieving that goal. These include:

  • Businesses in the Northern Powerhouse sponsoring academies, addressing poor leadership and management in schools and directly mentoring young people to make them aware of the range of jobs available to them.
  • Addressing disadvantage, the cause of so many of the issues affecting Northern schools, by committing to significant reforms to support schools teaching children from disadvantaged homes.
  • Further supporting those from disadvantaged backgrounds by establishing more Opportunity Areas; at least one of which must be in the North East which currently has none.
  • The Northern Powerhouse to take control of its schools’ management by establishing a Northern Board to oversee the large Multi Academy Trusts.
  • Replicating and rolling out across the Northern Powerhouse the plan to make every child school-ready, currently being led by Greater Manchester, where 12,000 children start school without core skills such as speaking in full sentences, holding a book or knowing how to use the toilet.

Bold objective

Mr Osborne said: “Education is key to the future of the Northern Powerhouse. At the moment, school performance in the North is not as strong as it is in other parts of the country. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“I’m calling on the government to commit to this bold objective: let’s make sure as many kids in the North attend good and outstanding schools as they do now in London.

“Working with teachers, businesses and government at every level, we can do it. Our Northern Powerhouse Partnership has set out the plan to achieve it. Let’s get on with it.”

Lord Jim O’Neill added: “Turning around Northern schools is a major challenge. But it was done in London, which had the worst schools in the country, and can be done in the Northern Powerhouse.

“I have been encouraged by the initial response to our Educating the North report, as work has already started to get underway in the first few months of this year. But much more can and must be done – by government, by Northern businesses and by local authority leaders across the North, as well as our Metro Mayors.”

Photo credit: Flickr

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