Justine Greening is right to focus on the problem but the government has a steep hill to climb in 2018by David Laws / January 3, 2018 / Leave a comment
Most people who are interested in education are aware that its quality varies quite a bit across the country. London, formerly a laggard, has been doing well over the last decade and more, while “the North” and some other areas have fallen behind. That much is common knowledge.
But when Education Policy Institute researchers looked at this issue in detail for a recent report, the scale of the problem became more apparent. Researchers identified the English secondary schools which consistently perform well—about 30 per cent of them—in “value added terms.” If these schools were spread evenly across the country, then each area might be expected to have around 30 per cent of secondary places in such high performing schools.
But the reality is not that geographic access is merely unequal—the scale of the inequality is huge and it has been growing since 2010, in spite of government promises to improve education outside London and the South East.
EPI research found that while parts of London have almost 70 per cent of local secondary school places available in high quality schools, the comparable figure in Blackpool and Hartlepool is zero. Indeed, researchers found that 20 per cent of all local areas in England did not have access (in terms of travel times) to a high performing school.
As the fact of this unequal access has been known for some time, you might have thought that over recent years governments would have made some progress in closing the gap.
“Of the 20…