Scarborough schools target of new standards drive

Education Secretary Justine Greening
Education Secretary Justine Greening

SCARBOROUGH will be one of the first targets of a new £60m drive to help disadvantaged children.

Education Secretary Justine Greening today announced the town will be one of the first ‘New Opportunity Areas’ launched by the Government.

These areas will receive extra money from the Government to improve school standards along with a raft of other measures including better careers advice and more apprenticeship opportunities.

Scarborough was one of six areas identified today with a further four set to the share the funding.

The areas chosen were identified as having poor levels of social mobility in a report from a commission led by former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Ms Greening said: “This Conservative Government is determined to build a country that works for everyone, and education is at the heart of that ambition. Opportunity Areas will help local children get the best start in life, no matter what their background.

“Ensuring all children can access high-quality education at every stage is critical. This is about giving children in these areas the right knowledge and skills, advice at the right time, and great experiences.

“My department will work with local authorities, education and skills providers, businesses, and the wider community, not just to focus on what we can do to help inside schools, but also create the opportunities outside school that will raise sights and broaden horizons for young people.”

The initiative follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s declaration that she wants all young people to be able to achieve their potential.

It will also be seen as an attempt to demonstrate that the Government’s approach to raise standards is not focused purely on plans to open new grammar schools.

Ms Greening used her conference speech to defend the Conservatives plans to bring back selection in schools.

“We talk about postcode lotteries. But unless you can afford to move to the right area, education has been the ultimate postcode lottery,” she said.

Grammar schools have a track record of closing the attainment gap between children on free school meals and their better off classmates.

“That’s because in grammars, those children on free school meals progress twice as fast as the other children, so the gap disappears.

“And 99 per cent of grammars schools are rated good or outstanding.

“But in spite of this, Labour’s approach to grammars is: close these schools down.”

Ms Greening announced Scarborough will be one of the first areas targeted by a new £60m drive to help disadvantaged children.

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “Any new investment into disadvantaged communities is welcome, but the truth is that grammar schools fail the vast majority of children.

“The Tories cannot provide any evidence that new grammar schools will aid social mobility for children from the most disadvantaged communities.”

Helen Barnard, head of analysis at the York-baed Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Improving life in these ten ‘social mobility hotspots’ is an important goal, but poverty affects every region in the country and costs the UK £78 billion every year.”

Ms Barnard call for the ‘new opportunity areas’ to become “trailblazers” for a new approach to tackling poverty.