Doncaster is ‘social mobility blackspot’, warns report

The Mansion House, Doncaster
The Mansion House, Doncaster
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A “geography of disadvantage” for England’s children has been laid bare in a new report which labels Doncaster as social mobility blackspots.

While London and the surrounding areas are doing well in giving youngsters a decent education and the opportunity of a good job, other parts of the country, particularly coastal and industrial towns, including Scarborough, Doncaster and Barnsley, are fast becoming entrenched social mobility “coldspots”.

The Social Mobility Index ranks each of England’s 324 local authority areas on the chances of a poor child doing well at school and getting a good job, based on a series of measures including exam results and the local job and housing market, with the top 20 per cent classed as ‘hotspots’ and worst performing 20 per cent deemed to be “coldspots”.

In total, 33 per cent of Yorkshire authorities were classed as “coldspots”, with North-East Lincolnshire, Hambleton, Wakefield and Bradford also among the worst performing.

London and its commuter belt were the best performing, with the majority of local areas within the top 20 per cent “hotspots”.

Yorkshire was one of just three regions not to have a single area classed a social mobility hotspot.

Among the very worst performers - those in the bottom 10 per cent for social mobility - over half are in the East Midlands and the East of England.

Former Health Secretary and Darlington MP Alan Milburn, the chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which produced the report, said the findings “lay bare the local lottery in social mobility” adding that it was “shocking” that some of the richest parts of the country are among those that are failing poor children.

Both Oxford and Cambridge were among the places identified as social mobility “coldspots” - alongside West Somerset in first place, and Norwich in second place. Many of these places are in areas which have traditionally been regarded as relatively affluent parts of the country, the Commission said.

The coastal and industrial towns that performed badly, finding a place in the worst performing 20 per cent of authorities include Mansfield in eighth place, Blackpool in ninth, Scarborough 13th, Doncaster 24th and Barnsley at 25th.

Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said “This report shows why I have placed economic development, job creation and skills at the top of my agenda as Mayor of Doncaster, and why they are such important issues for our borough.

“We need more well paid jobs, and we need to ensure that local people are able to gain the skills they need to secure those jobs. The good news is that we are making significant progress. We’ve already created hundreds of new apprenticeships, secured new developments including the National College for High Speed Rail, and our major infrastructure projects like FARRRS are already bringing new jobs and investment to the borough.

“It is important that we stick to our plan, to help ensure that more people in Doncaster have the opportunity to achieve their goals and secure a bright future for themselves and their family.”

Mr Milburn said: “The Social Mobility Index uncovers a new geography of disadvantage in England. It lays bare the local lottery in social mobility. It gets beneath the surface of a crude North/South divide and calls into question some of the conventional wisdom about where disadvantage is now located. It is shocking that many of the richest areas of the country are the ones failing their poorest children the most.

“This report is a wake-up call for educators and employers as well as policy-makers, both local and national. If social mobility is to take off, much more will need to be done if there is to be a level playing field of opportunity in our country. The gulf between the ambition of a One Nation Britain and today’s reality of a Divided Britain is far too wide.”

Sir Peter Lampl, the chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said the index painted a “bleak picture” of social mobility in some parts of the UK.

He added: “Drilling into this data - and looking at what the best schools in the poorest areas are doing to improve results for their most challenging pupils, and applying what they do to other schools - is vital to ensuring that opportunities are raised in low social mobility areas.”