Levelling up must start with our sinking schools

The Times

Will Tanner writes for The Times about the importance of education within the levelling up agenda:

”For more than 200,000 primary school pupils, how hard they work doesn’t matter. Nor does how talented they are. Nor even how ambitious their parents are. Their potential is held back because every school in their area is rated either “inadequate” or “requiring improvement” by Ofsted. In 306 such areas in England, there are simply no decent primary schools.

This is the problem in a nutshell behind the government’s levelling up agenda: opportunity bounded by geography. If you grow up in South Derbyshire, one in three primary pupils and every single secondary pupil are in an underperforming school. In the southwest, you are twice as likely to live in an area with no good or outstanding primary schools as in London. This is no accident of postcode lotteries or small catchment areas. It is entire communities without a good school.

The prime minister is fond of defining levelling up with the maxim “talent is everywhere but opportunity is not”. He is right. But to change that we need a much lower tolerance of stubborn underperformance, and a long-term plan to transform education opportunity where it is weakest. If not, there is quite simply a limit to how much levelling up can achieve.”

This article first appeared as a Times Thunderer on Thursday 24 June here.


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