Coalfield communities being ignored again by the Government

Gloria De Piero MP
Gloria De Piero MP

Last week’s Government spending round revealed a supposed funding boost for schools, writes Gloria De Piero.

But, apparently, 93 per cent of constituencies in line to receive extra funding are Tory-held.

It means that many former coalfield communities are missing out yet again.

Despite the best efforts of schools and teachers, fewer children in Ashfield are achieving the grades they need to fulfil their potential.

In 2018 just 16.5 per cent of Ashfield’s 18-year-olds started university – the fourth lowest out of 650 Parliamentary constituencies.

For comparison,more than 43 per cent of 18-year-olds from Tory-held Rushcliffe started university in the same year.

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Last year, 80 per cent of Rushcliffe GCSE students who did not qualify for free school meals achieved five or more good GCSE grades.

That figure was just 62 per cent in Ashfield.

Of those young people in Ashfield who did receive free dinners, just 26.1 per cent got the five good GCSEs needed to go on to study for A-levels.

Yet 51 per cent of kids on free school meals down the road in Rushcliffe achieved this benchmark.

It is harder to get on in life if you come from areas like Ashfield, particularly compared to London.

One reason for that is the London Challenge, a programme of innovation and investment brought in by the last Labour Government.

SEE ALSO: Working class kids must be given the chance to progress.

What’s needed is a ‘coalfield challenge’ to emulate that transformation in former mining areas.

I visited local head teachers to discuss social mobility and they all told me that schools are doing everything they can but with ever-decreasing budgets is tough.

It’s not that coalfields areas are lacking in aspiration either.

Hall Park Academy’s head teacher told me that a parent had approached her to say that she needed a school that could help her kids achieve their potential – not write them off because they live in a deprived area.

However, without major intervention, even very straightforward dreams will be very difficult to realise.