THE major divide between North and South in educational attainment was the subject of a new report by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership last week.

The report, Educating the North, sets out in stark detail how our pupils’ results lag behind the rest of the country.

On average, children in the North are one GCSE grade behind comparable pupils in the South.

Loading article content

It also revealed one quarter of secondary schools in the North are judged by Ofsted to be inadequate or in need of improvement.

The findings also make a clear case for extra funding for our schools and places a strong emphasis on early years education.

If we get this right, every pupil should be able to start school from a level playing field.

Schools in London currently receive more per-pupil funding than schools in the North-East, and disadvantaged pupils in London perform better than those in our region.

The report also calls for the Government to urgently address the lack of ‘opportunity areas' in the North-East.

These areas are chosen by the Government and given extra investment and support for their schools as they have been identified as having low levels of social mobility.

As the Schools North-East organisation has pointed out, the current formula for determining which 'opportunity Areas' will receive funding is skewed against the North-East due to our relatively high performing primary schools and lower house prices.

We agree with the report that the formula should be reviewed as this is holding us back in being able to deliver our potential.

There is a welcome emphasis on the importance of careers education and work experience, which echoes our members’ priorities as set out in our Stronger North-East campaign.

We are working with Esh Group to deliver thousands of hours of practical employability advice directly into schools, delivered by our members.

Devolution has an important part to play in this education debate.

The report calls for Metro Mayors to be given control over vocational education spending, which would allow a greater focus on local priorities.

The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority have recently set out an ambitious education and skills investment plan, and we are supporting the proposals for devolution in the north of the region.

This timely report is the result of collaboration between businesses and schools across the North, including the Chamber, and we must ensure our region continues to play a full part in the Northern Powerhouse.

James Ramsbotham is chief executive at the North East England Chamber of Commerce