Access to high performing schools in England has become more ‘geographically unequal’ despite the Government’s emphasis on improving schools outside of London, report finds.
The Department for Education’s recently published Social Mobility Action Plan emphasises the importance of ‘place’ when it comes to access to quality education.
It states: ’where you live will affect where you get to in life – while in some areas opportunity can become self-perpetuating, in other communities, disadvantage can become entrenched.’
However, research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has revealed high levels of geographical inequality when it comes to the provision of education remain despite this emphasis.
It found ‘virtually’ all councils with consistently low densities of high performing school places are in the North, particularly the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.
In Blackpool and Hartlepool local authority areas there are no high performing secondary school places.
From 2010 to 2015, local authorities with consistently good access to high performing secondary schools saw the proportion of pupils with access to such schools rise from 49% in 2010 to 58% in 2015. However, many of these were in London.
In areas with consistently low densities of high performing school places, the proportion of pupils with access to such places fell from just 6% in 2010 to 5% in 2015. These include areas such as Blackpool, Hartlepool, Barnsley, Redcar and Cleveland, Knowsley, and Middlesborough.
Of the 20 local areas with the biggest increases in high performing school places, 16 of which were in London, the proportion of such places rose significantly from 36% to 60% from 2010-2015.
However, of the 20 areas with the largest fall in high performing places, none of which were in London, the proportion of high performing places fell from 31% in 2010 to 20% in 2015.