Norwich comes second bottom in a national league on ‘life chances’ for children
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant
Parts of East Anglia are suffering from a 'new geography of disadvantage' with a poor child's life chances heavily dependent on where they live, according to a major new report.
While London and the surrounding areas are doing well in giving youngsters a decent education and the opportunity of a good job, other parts of the country, including Norwich, Fenland, Waveney and Breckland, are fast becoming entrenched social mobility 'cold spots'.
Many better-off towns and major cities are also falling well short in creating opportunities for disadvantaged children to succeed, the new Social Mobility Index found.
The Index, published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, ranks each of England's 324 local authority areas on the chances of a poor child doing well at school and getting a good job, based on a series of measures including exam results and the local job and housing market.
Norwich came second bottom, while Fenland was 319th out of 324, Waveney was 318th and Breckland was 306th.
Commission chairman Alan Milburn said the findings 'lay bare the local lottery in social mobility' adding that it was 'shocking' that some of the richest parts of the country are among those that are failing poor children.
London performs highly with 23 out of 32 of the capital's boroughs ranked in the top 10% of areas for social mobility, the Index concludes. This 'London effect' extends out into the commuter belt, with most of Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire doing well, along with many areas of Kent and western Essex.
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The best performing area overall was Westminster in central London.
Among the very worst performers - those in the bottom 10% for social mobility - over half (58%) are in the East Midlands and the East of England.
In a foreword to the report, Mr Milburn said that the 'opportunity map' of England is complex and changing.
'The Social Mobility Index suggests that very similar areas that are only a few miles apart do very differently on social mobility despite having similar challenges and opportunities.'
Commenting on the findings, he said: 'The Social Mobility Index uncovers a new geography of disadvantage in England. It lays bare the local lottery in social mobility. It gets beneath the surface of a crude North/South divide and calls into question some of the conventional wisdom about where disadvantage is now located. It is shocking that many of the richest areas of the country are the ones failing their poorest children the most.
'This report is a wake-up call for educators and employers as well as policy-makers, both local and national. If social mobility is to take off, much more will need to be done if there is to be a level playing field of opportunity in our country. The gulf between the ambition of a One Nation Britain and today's reality of a Divided Britain is far too wide.'
The findings come amid continuing concerns about the life chances of poor children.
Last month, Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said that the extent to which under-performing secondary schools are concentrated in particular parts of the country is deeply troubling, and is leading to 'nothing short of a divided nation'.
He said a lack of political will is contributing to the 'growing divide' which means that of the 173 failing secondary schools in the country, 130 are in the North and Midlands, with just 43 in the South.