THE chairman of Transport for the North has argued a similar body may be needed to close the North-South divide on school standards.
John Cridland, a former director-general of the CBI, highlighted the weakness of secondary school education as one of the major factors leading to lower standards of living in the North.
Transport for the North was set up to develop a pipeline of projects to improve journeys and freight transport across the North including the flagship Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Cridland said: "Currently northerners have a standard of living which is £5,000 a year per person lower than a southerner. There's no good reason for that.
"If we got together as a coalition of the willing to tackle the reasons, which are partly educational, partly transport, that would lead to income parity.
"Let's not get hooked up on power for power's sake, let's not get hooked up in a debate between centralism and localism. Let's think about the levers we need to be able to pull in order to close that gap."
He added: "We have significant responsibility for transport planning. If the other key thing which is a weakness in northern living standards is relatively weak state education, particularly at secondary school level, than is true in the south of england then I'd suggest we might need and Education for the North to sit alongside Transport for the North."
Outgoing Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw last year argued the "growing divide" in secondary school standards between North and South should be the focus of the Government's education policy.