IPPR North warns on regional early years divide

27 Oct 15

Children born into the poorest families in the North lag behind those in London in terms of their development, IPPR North has said.

Children born into the poorest families in the North lag behind those in London in terms of their development, IPPR North has said.

Photo: Alamy


Highlighting an early years North-South divide in its annual State of the North report, the think-tank said less than half of deprived Northern children have progressed as well as they should by the time they are five years old.

Just 47% of them have reached a good stage of development in their early years, according to the research. The picture is much better in London where 59% of the poorest young children have attained early-years benchmarks.

The report found the most deprived income groups from the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North West all had a lower proportion of children being judged by teachers to have reached a good level of development in their foundation stage than both the South East of England and London.

Children’s performance at the early years stage affects them at every subsequent stage of their schooling, the report highlighted, so these regions also under performed in GCSE attainment too.

IPPR North director Ed Cox said: “If the Northern Powerhouse is to drive national prosperity, these figures show the challenges it must overcome to become a reality.

“We will never become a powerhouse economy when our children and young people have such a poor start in life.”

Early-years attainment is one of 11 benchmarks against which the progress of the Northern Powerhouse should be measured, IPPR North said.

Others include the percentage of schoolchildren achieving five or more good GCSEs, labour productivity and remuneration levels, and the proportion of well-qualified and skilled workers. All are areas where the North tends to lag behind London and the South East and other European metropolitan areas.

For instance, at £26.73 per hour, the North’ productivity trails the national average by 10.6%. The think-tank said productivity in the North needed to rise by £8.50 to £35.20 over the long term.

“If the Northern Powerhouse is to be successful, economic powers must be devolved to all corners of the North to allow businesses and policymakers to develop an economy that supports more productive, resilient and sustainable growth: jobs that pay well, prosperity that is shared, and opportunities for all.” Cox added.


  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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