North East schools at risk of worsening regional childhood inequalities due to funding imbalance

A striking report has found northern schools receive 9.7% less funding than those in London.

Students in London receive 9.7% more funding than those in the North, according to a recent study.

The striking regional imbalances between the North and South have been revealed by Child of the North All-Party Parliamentary Group in the hope of addressing educational inequalities.

Children are also more likely to be persistently absent in the North East, while students in London, on average, achieve a third of a grade higher than their northern counterparts.

Emma Lewell-Buck MP for South Shields and Co-Chair of the Child of the North APPG, said: “Policy decisions over the last decade to give schools in the north less funding than those in the south have led to deepening inequalities for our children.

“This report outlines the injustice experienced leading to poor educational, health and employment outcomes. We must act on the recommendations to avoid long-term costs to our health services, the economy, and most importantly the life chances of all the bright children in my area and the rest of the north.”

The report found northern schools are losing out on hundreds of pounds in funding per pupil compared to those in London. It also highlights children born into the poorest fifth of families in the UK are almost 13 times more likely to experience poor health and educational outcomes by the age of 17.

And so the findings have prompted rallying calls for immediate action to address these imbalances.

The Child of the North APPG members and report authors are calling for an overhaul of the current school funding formula, so it takes into consideration attainment inequalities and the health burden borne by schools, to prevent these disparities continuing to rise.

Professor David Taylor-Robinson, HEN Academic Director, Professor of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool, and co-author of the report, said: “We know that the North of England has some of the highest child poverty rates in the country and this report makes clear the impact that living in poverty can have on children while they’re at school.

“For the past decade the North has lagged behind the rest of the country in educational funding, whilst the inequalities faced by children in the region has continued to increase as a result of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

“If we are to give all children an equal start in life, no matter where they live, there needs to be action to address childhood inequalities early, as these can be incredibly difficult to address after young people leave education settings.”

The report also found removing socio-economic inequality in early childhood would reduce the number of children experiencing multiple adversities by more than 80%.

Professor Mark Mon-Williams from the University of Leeds who co-authored the report, said: “Schools in the North of England are serving disproportionate numbers of children growing up in disadvantaged circumstances, but with the right support these children can thrive in school. The current funding formula used by the Government doesn’t go far enough in recognising the wider challenges faced by schools and nurseries in disadvantaged areas, such as the physical and mental health of children and their families.

“As this report shows, there are many examples of local initiatives across the North that are working to address educational inequalities in their communities, but the responsibility for creating a fairer future for children across the country needs to be shared across the whole system. We hope that the government acts on the evidence and the recommendations set out in this report.”