3rd February 2017

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England’s response to Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s first report

Responding to the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s first report, Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England said:

“I’m pleased the Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s first report puts children’s education centre stage.

Where we are raised and where we go to school influences so much of our life. The people, the communities, the environment and opportunities around us in childhood shape the adult lives we lead.

That is why it is so important that we make sure every child has the best opportunity possible to for a bright future and a happy, healthy and prosperous life, wherever they live. This starts by tackling the North/South divide.

Some parts of Northern England have the best primary schools in the country, but the lowest adult employment rate. Others have higher numbers of children going to universities than anywhere else but local household disposable incomes are lower than anywhere south of the M4.

We need to understand how and why these disparities emerge, which is why my Growing Up North project is taking a close look at how communities across the North are shaping local children’s futures, both in the classroom and beyond.

I’m holding regional summits with educators, employers and policymakers in order to learn from some of the practices in North and to suggest practical steps to improve schooling and the local environment for children.

I am pleased to see this ambition is shared by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, the research group headed by George Osborne, which has this week called on politicians to overcome the North/South divide through better education.

We need to raise attainment among schools in the North and equip pupils to grow and build on the opportunities for development, cultural growth and high skill jobs which devolution can bring.

With the imminent introduction of elected mayors in many Northern cities and the energy around the Northern Powerhouse debate, we have a great opportunity to improve the prospects of the 3.6m children in the North. We owe it to them to keep that momentum going.

As a proud Northerner who has also lived in the South, I want all children in the North of England to have the same opportunities as those in Southern England.

If we can start to understand why children do better in some parts of the country than others and what it is about the place they grow up in that supports them to succeed, we can begin to bridge the North-South divide.

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