Government backs North East education with £24 million fund

The North East of England received welcome news on Monday as the government announced a major investment into education and skills training to increase employability.

On a visit to the North East, Education Secretary Damian Hinds MP committed £24 million to boost social mobility and raise aspirations for young people through the Opportunity North East scheme.

On the day of the announcement, Damian opened the new Darras Hall Primary School and met with students and teachers to discuss the investment plans. The minister also met Cllr Wayne Daley and Anne Marie Trevelyan MP to discuss how the council and government can meet the challenges faced in Northumberland including small schools, transport and a focus on special educational needs.

The Opportunity North East announcement is a result of the work of Northumberland’s two Conservative MPs and the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Cllr Daley, over the last year who have been lobbying together to achieve the increased support.

The North East has some of the best performing primary schools in the country but secondary school performance is significantly lower than other regions. Fewer 18-year-olds attend the country’s top universities than those from any other part of the country, which is a result of the poor secondary education. The North East also has one of the highest proportions of young people not in education, employment or training after year 11.

Opportunity North East will aim to tackle these issues by:

• Investing £12 million in targeted approaches to improve the transition from primary to secondary school, drive up standards – particularly at secondary level – and improve outcomes for pupils post 16;

• Working with secondary schools and colleges to encourage young people to consider university, degree apprenticeships and other high quality technical education options;

• Partnering with local businesses to improve job prospects for young people across the region; and

• Investing a further £12 million to boost early career training for new teachers and help improve the quality of teaching and raise standards in the region’s schools, ahead of roll-out in other regions.

Cllr Daley said: “I have been extremely impressed at the way Damian Hinds took on board the issues we raised and the quick, effective solutions his department have delivered. The Opportunity North East fund and the £24 million grant it comes with will go a long way to bringing us up to the standards elsewhere in the country.

“I made it very clear to him that we will work together with all partners to deliver excellence in education and I want Northumberland to be a beacon council which pioneers innovation and delivers the best possible starts for all of our young people, no matter what type of education they’re pursuing."