In a speech to Parliament on Monday evening, Rotherham MP Sarah Champion fiercely criticised the education postcode lottery that is harming the prospects of children across Yorkshire and the Humber and pressed the Government to address it by tackling inequality rather than forced academisation. The debate on educational attainment in Yorkshire and the Humber was called after research by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) revealed significant disparity in educational attainment across the country. Yorkshire and the Humber, at 63 per cent, scored the lowest percentage of pupils achieving five or more A* to C grades at GCSE level, which is seven per cent lower than London.

In its report, the SMF found that regional differences have in fact become much greater and in Ofsted's latest annual report, the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, commented on a troubling North-South divide in secondary school performance.

Sarah Champion MP said:

I am deeply concerned that when it comes to education, Yorkshire and the Humber lags behind the other areas of the country. Sadly, it is becoming more and more clear that a child's prospects depend on not only their ability, but their economic circumstances and their postcode.

The North and the Midlands achieve persistently lower GCSE results than the south. In Yorkshire and the Humber, 19.9 per cent of children are classed as being in poverty; that is significantly higher than the UK average.

It cannot be acceptable for a child's postcode to limit their chances in life in Britain in the 21st century. The Government must urgently tackle the problem. Far from tackling inequality, they have instead overseen a crisis in education.

In the speech, Ms. Champion also pointed to the 34 per cent real terms fall in capital spending on education under the Tories as well as the crisis in teacher recruitment, with the Government missing its trainee teacher recruitment targets four years running and overseeing an 11 per cent rise in teachers leaving the profession.

Sarah Champion MP added:

I am sad to say, we see a Government that is utterly unable to tackle the crisis they have created, seemingly oblivious to the problems we face, and completely out of ideas to enable all our children to flourish.

You can read the Social Market Foundation (SMF) report here

You can also read a transcript of the debate here or watch the video here

NewsVanessa Johns