Alex calls on Government to take action to narrow the North-South educational divide

Take action to close the North-South educational divide, or risk the gap widening further as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has told Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP.

At a meeting with local head teachers Alex heard how self-isolation rules have resulted in 8,000 individual* school days being lost at one Stockton North secondary school since September 2020. A primary school reported how they have been forced to spend £4,000 from their reserves on cleaning and PPE, while another secondary school has paid out £12,000 in supply cover between September and December.

Writing to the Education Secretary, Alex expressed concern that the Government’s position that the schools will receive their “core grant”  funding is failing to grasp the “reality of the situation”. Alex has called for the Government to provide further financial support to schools to help cover this extra expenditure.

Alex has also voiced his concern that the loss of so many school days will impact the educational attainment of young people in his constituency – and further widen the North-South educational divide. He has asked the Education Secretary how he will take this into account when it comes to the 2021 assessment period.

Alex said:

“I am very proud how our schools, teachers and support staff have responded to this difficult situation. However from talking to head teachers it is clear that they need more support from Central Government.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is widening the North-South educational divide. Like the head teachers I met with, I am concerned that the number of school days being lost will have a significant impact on young people in Stockton North.

“No child should be left behind as a result of this pandemic. The Government needs to do more to ensure that the gap is narrowed. This means financial intervention and also by making sure there is a proper plan in place to take into account the pandemic into the 2021 assessment process.”

*8000 individual school days calculated as 1 pupil off for one day self-isolating.