Pupils in the playground of a Teach First partner school

North-south divide for poorer pupils on School Offers Day

North-south divide for poorer pupils on School Offers Day

Half a million children will find out their secondary school this Thursday.

Poorest children in London six times more likely to go to outstanding school than those in North.

Poorest children in North three to times more likely to go to a school rated less than good.

There is a stark regional divide in opportunity for children from low-income backgrounds. That's according to new analysis from education charity Teach First.


This Thursday is National Secondary School Offers Day, when half a million pupils find out where they will go to secondary school. Last year 84% of young people secured a place at their first preference school.1


In all regions of England, the poorest communities are less likely to be served by good or outstanding schools. But the latest research from Teach First also highlights how this gap varies dramatically between regions.


Previous research from Teach First has shown that the poorest communities are half as likely to be served by an outstanding secondary school compared to the wealthiest.2

The new analysis shows the picture varies greatly in different parts of the country. Teach First looked at the Ofsted ratings of schools in the 20% most deprived areas across England and found that3: 


  • In London, just one in seven (14%) schools in the poorest areas are 'less than good' (requires improvement or inadequate) 
  • In the North, around half of schools in the poorest areas are less than good, including: 
  • 49% in the North East 
  • 54% in the North West 
  • 54% in Yorkshire and the Humber 
  • In London, one in three (33%) schools in the poorest areas are outstanding  
  • In the North East and North West, just one in twenty (5%) schools in the poorest areas are outstanding  


But it isn't only a North-South divide, with poorer families in South also much less likely to gain a place at a good or outstanding school. The South East and East of England have among the best performing schools overall. However, this isn’t the case for schools serving the poorest communities within these region: 

  • In the East of England, just 14% of all schools are rated as less than good. But 28% of those schools serving the poorest communities are less than good.  
  • In the South East, just 15% of all schools are rated as less than good. But 44% of those schools serving the poorest communities are less than good. 


Russell Hobby, Chief Executive of Teach First, said: 


"All parents want their children to go to the best school possible. But it is clear that families in some communities have a lot less choice than others. Every young person deserves a world class education, no matter their background.  


“There is inequality across the country, with young people from low-income backgrounds less likely to get into a good or outstanding school no matter where they live. But this latest research shows opportunity isn’t evenly spread. Understanding the geography of disadvantage is vital if we're going to continue tackling educational inequality.  


"The good news is there are countless examples of outstanding schools serving the poorest communities, often in very challenging circumstances. So we know this is achievable. The biggest difference we can make is to ensure we get brilliant teachers working in the schools that need them the most."  


Teach First's recruits and trains talented graduates and career changers to teach in schools where the need is greatest. Applications for their Leadership Development Programme are open until May. 


The table attached sets out the share of secondary schools rated as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate in each region of England. The table includes a breakdown of the share of these schools in the wealthiest and poorest areas within each region. 


Ends – 

For interview requests, media enquiries or case study requests, contact the Teach First media team via press@teachfirst.org.uk or 0203 841 8483 (including outside office hours) 


Notes to editors 

1.    Secondary and primary school applications and offers: 2017 (Department for Education) 

2.    Impossible? Social mobility and the seemingly unbreakable class ceiling (Teach First) 

3.    Analysis is based on Ofsted’s ‘schools inspection and outcomes: management information’ published here. 

4.      'Wealthiest' and 'poorest' in this analysis means the top and bottom 20% of areas according to the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index 


About Teach First 


We are an education charity that believe that disadvantage should not determine destiny. Our vision is that no child's educational success should be limited by their socio-economic background. 


We work towards achieving this by: 

·         Finding and developing talented people to teach in schools where the need is greatest. 

·         Developing programmes for young people living in low-income communities to help them reach their full potential beyond school. 

·         Supporting schools to access innovations and partnerships that accelerate their pupils’ progress. 

·         Building a movement of teachers, school leaders, social entrepreneurs, policymakers and business people committed to ending education inequality across all areas of society. 


Since 2003, Teach First has recruited, trained and placed 11,000 teachers in schools serving low-income communities, reaching over one million young people. We currently partner with hundreds of schools across all regions of England and Wales 

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