Young people in Norfolk have some of the worst education and employment outcomes in England
Children in Norfolk have some of the worst opportunities and educational outcomes of any area in England, according to a new report.
The county was ranked 131st out of 150 local education authorities in an index comparing data such as GCSE and A-level attainment, take-up of apprenticeships and the employment rate among young people.
Norfolk also scored poorly compared with its East of England neighbours, below Suffolk (96th) and Essex (82nd).
But education leaders in the county have moved to defend its progress on young people's outcomes.
The youth opportunity index, produced by the Learning and Work Institute, shows the headline outcomes for England's six million 16 to 24-year-olds.
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It hopes to raise awareness of the 'basic unfairness' of geography's effects on young people's life chances.
In the index, Norfolk is ranked in the bottom 25 authorities for attainment of level three (A-level or equivalent) qualifications, take-up of higher education and youth employment rate.
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But it scored better in take-up of apprenticeships, where it was ranked 69th.
Corrienne Peasgood is principal of City College Norwich, where a quarter of all 16 to 19-year-olds in Norfolk study.
She said schools and colleges across the county were 'very focused' on improving outcomes at key stage four and level three and were building closer links to employers to increase apprenticeship and job opportunities.
'The findings of this report are disappointing but we recognise the challenges that have been faced and are proud to be working in partnership with a number of local organisations to address each of the youth opportunity index variables and data sources that continue to be the main focus for us as a college, Norfolk as a county and Norwich as an Opportunity Area,' she said
Leader of Norfolk County Council Andrew Proctor said the authority 'works with many partners to improve life chances for young people'.
'We recognise that significant challenges remain in ensuring that everyone benefits from this work but we are already seeing improvements in outcomes for young people – including a higher than average take-up of apprenticeships at 16 and 17 and lower than average figures for young people not in education and employment,' he said.
The report said there was 'some correlation' between the Department for Education's Opportunity Areas – 12 areas, including Norwich and Ipswich, which are receiving support to raise children's educational attainment levels and improve social mobility.
Stephen Evans, chief executive at the Learning and Work Institute said: 'Our new youth opportunity index shows that young people's life chances are directly affected by where they live. This is a basic unfairness and this new report shows where efforts need to be focused.
'We hope that it will help local authorities and others to prioritise their focus and target their policy efforts.'