Former chancellor George Osborne calls for improvements in northern schools

George Osbourne
George Osbourne
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George Osborne has urged the Government to step up efforts to improve schools in northern England.

The former chancellor called for northern children to be given the same opportunities to attend good or outstanding schools as those in London.

Mr Osborne, who as chancellor helped drive the so-called Northern Powerhouse agenda, called for significant reforms to help schools teaching children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Currently, 94 per cent of London children in secondary schools attend a school rated outstanding or good, compared with 74 per cent across the north.

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Bridging the gap to London would mean an extra 430,000 northern children across the whole school system in 2022 would have the opportunity to attend an outstanding or good secondary school.

The former minister, now editor of the Evening Standard newsaper, will be making his first appearance before MPs since leaving the Treasury when he gives evidence to the Education Committee today.

Mr Osborne, chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) think tank, said: "At the moment, school performance in the North is not as strong as it is in other parts of the country. It doesn't have to be that way.

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"I'm calling on the Government to commit to this bold objective: let's make sure as many kids in the north attend good and outstanding schools as they do now in London.

"Working with teachers, businesses and government at every level, we can do it.

"Our Northern Powerhouse Partnership has set out the plan to achieve it. Let's get on with it."

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The NPP's plans involve encouraging businesses to play a greater role in sponsoring academies and mentoring youngsters in the North.

Other measures in the plan set out by the think tank include creating a Northern Board to oversee the large multi-academy trusts operating in the region.

A scheme to make every child school-ready should be rolled out across the north.

The scheme is currently led by Greater Manchester, where 12,000 children are estimated to start school without core skills such as speaking in full sentences, holding a book or knowing how to use the toilet.

Ministers should establish more opportunity areas - aimed at improving education and increasing social mobility - including at least one in the north-east.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said the Government was investing £70 million to "boost school performance in the north as part of the Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy".