The Government should make sure that as many schoolchildren in the North go to good or outstanding schools as in London within four years, according to former Chancellor George Osborne.
Mr Osborne will today call for measures to address the North's relatively poor educational attainment as he appears before MPs for the first time since he left Parliament in 2016.
Speaking alongside former Treasury Minister Lord Jim O'Neill in front of the Education Select Committee, he will highlight the alarming gap in the quality of schools between London and the northern regions.
Currently, 94 per cent of London children in secondary schools attend a school rated ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’, compared to 85 per cent in Yorkshire and 74 per cent across the North.
According to Mr Osborne and Lord O'Neill, the founders of the Northern Powerhouse concept, bridging the gap would mean an extra 430,000 northern children would go to highly-rated schools by 2022.
Among the measures set out by the pair, who are chair and vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, would be establishing a 'Northern Board' to oversee large multi-academy trusts governing groups of schools.
Other proposals include:
- Businesses in the Northern Powerhouse sponsoring academies, addressing poor leadership and management in schools and directly mentoring young people to make them aware of the range of jobs available to them.
- Committing to significant reforms to support schools teaching children from disadvantaged homes.
- Establishing more 'opportunity areas', where education services and business work together to broaden children's horizons.
- Rolling out across the North the plan to ensure every child has the level of social and emotional development, knowledge and skills needed for good progress through school.
Their appearance comes four months after a report by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, which represents civic and business leaders, said improving schools in the North should be "at the top of the in-tray" for new Education Secretary Damian Hinds.
Mr Osborne said: “Education is key to the future of the Northern Powerhouse. 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.
“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.”
Lord O’Neill said: “Turning around Northern schools is a major challenge. But it was done in London, which had the worst schools in the country, and can be done in the Northern Powerhouse.
“I have been encouraged by the initial response to our Educating the North report, as work has already started to get underway in the first few months of this year.
"But much more can and must be done – by government, by Northern businesses and by local authority leaders across the North, as well as our Metro Mayors.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Across the country nine out of ten schools are now rated good or outstanding and 1.9 million more pupils are now in these schools than in 2010.
"But we know there are areas where standards fall short and want to create a country where everyone gets the best start in life, regardless of where they’re from.
“We are investing in projects to raise pupils’ outcomes from an early age, train effective school leaders and we are investing £70 million to boost school performance in the north as part of the Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy.
“We are also improving educational attainment for children in areas that have faced long-term challenges through our 12 Opportunity Areas – five of which are in the North.”