MP wants answers on NE schools

Ronnie Campbell MP. Picture by Jane Coltman
Ronnie Campbell MP. Picture by Jane Coltman

Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell is pressing the Government to explain why the region’s schools are falling badly behind in national league tables.

He will quiz Education Secretary Justine Greening on new statistics from Whitehall departments which he says confirm that the region’s youngsters are being denied the opportunity to go on to further education, apprenticeships and decent jobs.

The figures show that the North East has the highest proportion of underperforming secondary schools, with 17.2 per cent of schools falling behind the minimum expected standard in 2016-17, compared to 9.3 per cent nationwide and 3.1 per cent for London.

Mr Campbell said: “Obviously, poverty and low-income amongst those in work are major factors – our region has the highest proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals in the UK, with an average of 16 per cent, while in local authorities such as Middlesbrough this is much higher, at 27.5 per cent.”

He slammed the proposed funding formula changes which he said will amount to a real-terms decrease.

He said: “That is because the new formula does not take deprivation into consideration. Every single secondary school in Hartlepool and North Tyneside and the vast majority in County Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Northumberland and Redcar and Cleveland will see their funding drop.”

Mr Campbell added that if per-pupil funding were matched between London and the North East, there would be an additional £360million available.

The figures also show that in 2016, 89 per cent of headteachers surveyed in the North East reported problems recruiting; despite regional improvement on the whole, Ofsted ratings for Northumberland schools have declined over the past five years; and the North East has the highest percentage of NEETs (not in education, employment or training) at 17.6 per cent.

Mr Campbell said: “The more you go into the official statistics, the worst the picture gets. In our region, the percentage of disadvantaged pupils going on to long-term employment is 17 per cent. For the South East, it is 29 per cent. Such figures speak for themselves.” 

In addition, one in three adults in the North East has the literacy levels of a nien to 11-year-old, and one in five has the numeracy levels of a five to nine-year-old.

And the North East has the lowest number of pupils who stay in education for at least two terms after Key Stage 4.