Survey on children from poor homes shows school chances dependon where they live

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A poor child’s chances of doing well in life still depend heavily on where they live, according to new analysis which shows youngsters in North East Cambridgeshire under performing.

Disadvantaged youngsters living in some parts of London or the South are much more likely to be reaching a good stage of development at age five, get decent GCSE results and to go on to university than those from areas such as the Midlands or the North.

The Social Mobility Index, drawn up by the Sutton Trust charity, ranks all 533 parliamentary constituencies in England based on five key education measures - early years, achievement at the end of primary school, GCSE results, admission to university and chances of gaining a job in a professional occupation.

The findings show wide discrepancies across the country.

Overall, across all five measures, the top 10 constituencies, those considered to be doing the most to improve prospects for their poorest youngsters, are all in London or the South.

Performing best overall is Westminster North - the fourth most deprived area of England, followed by Chipping Barnet, Leyton and Wanstead, Hexham and Chelsea and Fulham.

At the other end of the scale, the worst performing was South Derbyshire, followed by Barnsley Central and then Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, which is currently held by senior Labour politician Yvette Cooper.

The results also show that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s constituency, Loughborough, fares badly in the Index at fourth from bottom. Fifth from bottom was Ashfield.

Among the main party leaders, Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency is the most socially mobile, at 15.

But David Cameron’s Witney constituency is ranked at 475th, with Doncaster North, Ed Miliband’s constituency sixth from bottom at 528.

Sutton Trust chief executive Dr Lee Elliot Major said: “Today’s new social mobility index tells us that your chances of getting good GCSEs, attending a good university and accessing a professional job aren’t just a matter of ability, but are linked to where you live. We know talented children are born in every area of the country, yet these findings reveal stark differences in their educational and life prospects.

“The fact that schools in some parts of the country do much better for their disadvantaged students than those in other parts of the country shows how important it is that the next Government redoubles the national drive to improve social mobility and reduce educational inequalities.

“Whoever is in Government after May has a major task ahead if they want to ensure young people can succeed regardless of their background and where they grow up. They need to make sure that all pupils have access to great teaching as well as the chance to go to the best schools and universities.”

A breakdown of the results shows that on some of the measures, youngsters from low-income households in parts of England are performing three or four times better than their poor peers living in other areas.

While 72% of disadvantaged pre-schoolers in Lewisham, Deptford a reaching a good level of development at age five, only 19% are doing so in Kenilworth and Southam.

At the end of primary school, 26% of poor children in Chelsea and Fulham are reaching Level 5 - one above the expected standard for 11-year-olds - in reading, writing and maths, compared to just 2% in South West Norfolk and North East Cambridgeshire.

Birmingham, Ladywood was top on the GCSE measure, with 55% of teenagers gaining at least five C grades and an average capped points score of 278, while in Derby South, 20% of poor teenagers achieved five or more A*-C grades and the average capped points score was 164.

The constituencies of Stretford and Urmston and Altrincham and Sale West have the highest proportions of sixth-formers going on to university, with 78% taking up a place, and 44% going on to a “top third” institution.

In comparison, in three constituencies - Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Wakefield and Hemsworth, 29% of disadvantaged students go on to higher education, and none go to a “top third” university.

On the last measure, 44% of non-privileged graduates in Harrogate and Knaresborough report being in a professional occupation, compared to 19% in Stoke-on-Trent North.