MUCH progress is being made when it comes to school standards – and improving the qualifications achieved by students of all academic abilities.
This has been done in spite of the North being denied the level of funding that was made available to London when the capital’s schools were rooted at the bottom of national league tables.
However much more needs to be done if school-leavers are to acquire the skills that will enable them to excel in a 21st century economy – five or more GCSE grades at the national benchmark will, in many instances, no longer suffice and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, for one, deserves credit for its ongoing work raising the profile, and importance, of the skills agenda.
And, in this regard, two new reports pointing to a correlation between deprivation and attainment are a further reminder that every child deserves the best possible start in life. The Youth Opportunity Index published by the Learning and Work Institute highlights the wide disparities that still exist in parts of Yorkshire.
This comes after the Equality in Education report by the OCED – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – confirmed that disadvantaged children in deprived areas invariably slip two and a half years behind students from middle-class backgrounds when it comes to measuring academic progress.
Though no one will be surprised by these conclusions, they do serve as a reminder that education and economic regeneration are inextricably linked, and that skills and training are key to Yorkshire’s future. On the day that the landmark Boeing Sheffield development opens on the site of the former Orgreave colliery, the need for a closer collaboration between schools and employers has never been more important. After all, the technological revolution underway won’t stop for anyone – or Brexit.