Pupils in the North of England are ‘being left behind’, study warns

Northern girls face a double disadvantage on pay and jobs, the Children's Commissioner for England has warned.
Northern girls face a double disadvantage on pay and jobs, the Children's Commissioner for England has warned.
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Young people in northern communities are being left behind by their southern counterparts as they face a “double whammy of entrenched deprivation and poor schools”, the Children’s Commissioner for England has warned.

The study published by Anne Longfield also warns of a growing divide between genders - especially between girls in the north and south of the country.

She claims a girl in a place like Redcar is “doubly disadvantaged” compared to a girl in Camden, as both will earn less than boys despite outperforming them at school - but the girl in the North will earn considerably less than her London counterpart.

Girls are also more likely in deprived northern communities which have an “established culture” to go into “gendered” jobs such as nursing which are “really important” but are not high paid, Ms Longfield’s report warns.

After a year of research Ms Longfield said girls were more pessimistic about 
regeneration plans meaning anything to them and also more likely “to go into the kind of careers that pay less - the caring professions, the nursing professions and the like”.

“Those are good jobs, those are really important and good jobs, but we know they aren’t the high paid jobs,” she told The Yorkshire Post.

“Not wanting to dissuade anyone from going into those, but having choices is really important.”

She added: “We know that girls outperform boys at school, we know that also there’s a gender pay gap which obviously is getting a lot of attention at the moment in many areas of the country.

“What you also get is a regional pay gap in areas like Redcar, so what that means for girls is that ‘double whammy’ - not only are they getting lower regional salaries but actually they are getting a gender pay gap as well on those salaries, which just gives a double disadvantage if they are going to get on.”

The report warns of “huge gaps” between the poorest northern boys and girls and the poorest in London. But Otley-born Ms Longfield describes the study as “optimistic” as the Northern Powerhouse project and devolution of powers present a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to close the gap.

She said: “Children growing up in the North love and are proud of the place they live. They want a future where they live near their family and community and they want jobs and opportunities to rival anywhere else in the country.

“While many children in the North are thriving, there are huge gaps between the poorest Northern kids and those in the South.

“Too many children in the North are facing the double-whammy of entrenched deprivation and poor schools. They are being left behind. We need to ask why a child from low income family in London is three times more likely to go to university than a child who grows up in Hartlepool.”