YP Letters: Sense of local pride is key to education achievement

From: Chris Whitwood, Deputy Leader, Yorkshire Party, St Sepulchre Gate, Doncaster.

A school exam hall - can more be done to tackle education inequality?

TO remove educational inequality, we must also give our children a sense of belonging. The dramatic disparity between the attainment of white, working-class boys and children from other backgrounds is, as the Prime Minister rightly acknowledged in her maiden speech, one of the most serious problems facing our education, indeed our nation, today.

While this is a complex issue, funding is, of course, a key aspect – particularly among those faced with the ‘double disadvantage’ of low income and place poverty.

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However, disparity in education funding is not only evident between working-class and more affluent areas. The amount of state funding a school receives varies dramatically depending on which part of the country it is in.

For example, according to Department for Education statistics, schools in London received £8,587 per pupil in the academic year 2015/16. By contrast, schools in York received a mere £4,202. The result of this funding gap is evident.

Back in 2003, the two regions of England with the lowest GCSE attainment were London and Yorkshire. The capital, which has the benefit of the devolved Greater London Assembly, instigated the London Challenge – an initiative that offered increased funding, specialised training for teachers and the sharing of best practice. As a result, in both 2014 and 2015 the region with the highest GCSE results was London. Yorkshire and the North East performed the poorest.

Is it any wonder then that the growing number of regionalist political parties – such as the Yorkshire Party and the North East Party – are calling for an end to such funding inequality and the implementation of similar educational ‘challenges’?

There is a second issue that is far more significant. Underfunding, typically, affects towns which have suffered industrial decline and whose heritage is all but forgotten. In many of these communities, the local school is the last remnant of a once close-knit society.

Industrial decline, the disappearance of work and with it aspiration, has dogged many towns for the past generation. If white, working class boys are to succeed, then the financial inequality must be addressed and the wider community must work together to create a positive sense of local identity.

Cycle trail success story

From: Richard Kunz, Ashfield Terrace, Bradford Road, Bingley.

IN response to recent letters, I, too, have been involved in planning a cycleway, called the Great Northern Trail, around the Bradford district. Fifteen years ago, we were also accused of creating a ‘white elephant‘ and wasting public money. Interestingly enough, many of those critics now use and love the trail.

I also think we should ‘put to bed’ the economic argument. All cyclists I know also pay road tax and therefore pay towards road improvements.

A very low percentage of the transport budget is spent on cycleways. Do we feel that building more and more roads will help solve traffic queues and help with pollution? It certainly hasn’t worked so far.

The biggest reason people don’t want to cycle to work is the safety factor and the whole purpose of a cycle super highway is to promote a safer alternative.

I hope future cycleways will be built away from the roads and not as an adjoining carriageway.

Ofsted chief’s contradiction

From: Robert Bottamley, Thorn Road, Hedon.

FORMER Ofsted chairman David Hoare has resigned after describing the Isle of Wight as a poor white “ghetto”.

The mere fact of his departure ought not to preclude an important question.

Ofsted (directed by successive governments) always has taken the unequivocal position that poor performance cannot be attributed to social problems.

In which case, why did its chairman suddenly seek to blame the failure of some schools on a background of social deprivation? Teachers will have noted that Ofsted did not contradict Mr Hoare.

Disorder in the court

From: Aled Jones, Bridlington.

THE lady judge who chose to reciprocate foul language in court made a wrong decision. There is no doubt in my mind that Patricia Lynch QC has sunk to the level of the vilest criminal.

A judge has no right to use ugly expletives in court. By doing so against a vile-mouthed thug, she is guilty of direct retaliation and therefore in serious breach of the majesty of the court.

She should have opted for the dignity in silence approach.

Who deserves medal more?

From: Donald Webb, Rothwell.

SOME £350m spent on our athletes over four years to produce 27 gold medals – quite an expense at just about £13m per gold medal at Rio.

Meanwhile people are denied life-saving drugs, due to cost. The disabled are denied suitable equipment.

If I were giving out gold medals, they would go to the likes of the local lady who looks after her child with cerebral palsy 24/7.