Education secretary to invest £24m in the North East’s youth

Damian Hinds has unveiled his plans for the future of the youth of the North East, including a £12m investment into improving schools in the area

The education secretary, Damian Hinds, is pouring £24m into tackling the major issues faced by young people in the North East when it comes to education and future employment.

While the North East has some of the best-performing primary schools in the country, secondary school performance is significantly below other regions, and fewer 18-year-olds attend the country’s top universities than those from any other part of the country. The North East also has one of the highest proportions of young people not in education, employment or training after year 11.

The scheme, entitled Opportunity North East, will aim to tackle these issues by:

  • Investing £12m in targeted approaches to improve the transition from primary to secondary school, drive up standards – particularly at secondary level – and improve outcomes for pupils post-16;
  • Working with secondary schools and colleges to encourage young people to consider university, degree apprenticeships and other high quality technical education options;
  • Partnering with local businesses to improve job prospects for young people across the region; and
  • Investing a further £12m to boost early career training for new teachers and help improve the quality of teaching and raise standards in the region’s schools, ahead of roll-out in other regions.

Addressing a roundtable event at Cardinal Hume Secondary School in Gateshead, Hinds said:

“Talent and potential are evenly spread, but opportunities sometimes aren’t. With Opportunity North East I am going to work with schools, colleges, businesses and universities – including those beyond the area – to redress the balance.

“There are today too many education measures on which the North East is listed ninth in the list of nine English regions. It doesn’t have to be like that. In fact the North East has a lot of really outstanding education – especially so at primary level. The job now is to spread that through more of the secondary level and beyond.

“It’s absolutely right that we challenge ourselves to do things like increasing access to university for young people from black and minority ethnic communities but we must remember that disadvantage is not limited to a single group.

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“White British disadvantaged boys are the least likely of any large ethnic group to go to university. We need to ask ourselves why that is and challenge government, universities and the wider system to change that.

“It’s vital that we do this to make sure that no part of our country feels as though it has been left behind, and that every community feels like this is a country that works for everyone.”

This announcement is part of a government drive to improve education and boost productivity in the North of England, and follows on from investment in the Northern Powerhouse strategy.

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