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Education divide widens

PUBLISHED: 11:31 04 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:05 03 July 2010

A divide has opened up between the education haves and have-nots across East Anglia, new figures reveal.

Location is shown to be a key factor for children as they fight for a prosperous future, with youngsters in some areas trailing well behind those living just a few miles down the road.

A divide has opened up between the education haves and have-nots across East Anglia, new figures reveal.

Location is shown to be a key factor for children as they fight for a prosperous future, with youngsters in some areas trailing well behind those living just a few miles down the road.

District-by-district statistics detail how well 11-year-olds did in English, maths, science, reading and writing tests earlier this year.

They show that youngsters in Waveney are the worst of more than 350 council areas in England for their English results, with only 68pc getting the target level four.

Great Yarmouth is rock-bottom in the country for the percentage of 11-year-olds who got at least a level four in reading, writing and maths - at just 44pc, well under half of the children who sat the tests.

Meanwhile, more prosperous South Norfolk is 8th best for English results, with 88pc of children getting at least level four.

Other figures show:

Waveney and Yarmouth are joint second from bottom of the table for maths, with 66pc getting the target level four - with only Wansbeck in Northumberland faring worse, at 65pc;

Waveney is the worst in England for English and maths combined, with 57pc getting level four in both;

Waveney and Yarmouth are tied at the bottom of the table for the average points score for pupils in the tests, at 26.5.

It might be expected that many of the worst-performing councils are in inner cities.

But many of the areas near the bottom of the table are in deprived coastal areas, some of which have endured high unemployment and falling income per household as holiday habits have changed.

They include Wansbeck in Northumberland, Great Yarmouth, Waveney, Swale in Kent, Ipswich, Hastings in East Sussex, Adur in West Sussex and Thanet in Kent.

Chris Snudden, Norfolk County Council's head of primary school improvement, said: “We know that some areas of the county have significant levels of deprivation, including Great Yarmouth.

“Some of the performance there comes from communities that are increasingly taking families from other parts of the country and other parts of Europe. Therefore, the figures are not a surprise.”

Mrs Snudden added: “Our aim is that all children should do as well as they can. Our school support money is weighted according to the greatest need.”

She said along with the extra money, there was extra teaching in small groups for children with identified difficulties.

Mrs Snudden cited the work of Alderman Swindell Infant in Yarmouth, which had been named “outstanding” by Ofsted despite the challenges of deprivation and large numbers of overseas children.

“Our evidence is that if you get your strategies right, children can succeed. It's not a quick fix; it's a lot of hard work with children, parents and communities.”

Earlier this month, the EDP reported that Norfolk improved from 119th to 111th of the 150 local authorities in England in the 2009 primary school tests.

The county remains below the national average, despite a small improvement in the percentage of pupils getting the target level four in maths and science and small dip in English results.

The more detailed district-by-district figures show that Norfolk's long-term position in the bottom half of the table is down to piecemeal performance, with results particularly poor in Yarmouth and Norwich, below average in Breckland, average in King's Lynn and West Norfolk and North Norfolk, and well ahead of the mark in Broadland and South Norfolk.

cOMMENT - Page 14


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