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Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy

Volume 643: debated on Monday 25 June 2018

9. What steps he has taken to implement the recommendations set out in “Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy: An independent review” by Sir Nick Weller, published in November 2016. (906008)

As recommended by Sir Nick Weller, we have implemented a range of measures in the north to improve teaching and leadership capacity, recruit and retain teachers, and close the disadvantage gap. In 2017, nearly 400,000 more children were in good or outstanding schools in the north than in 2010.

When the strategy was announced, £80 million of funding was attached to it, but just months later that was rowed back to £70 million. Now, according to the vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, nothing at all has been spent. Can the Minister tell me how much has been spent so far, and how much of that has been spent on recruiting teachers in Bradford in particular?

We continue to spend on a range of programmes in the north, and some of the results are reflected in the figures I have just given. Bradford is of course one of the opportunity areas to which I referred, and £1.5 million has been provided to fund school improvements there. We are seeking to support the work of Bradford for Teaching, and Academy Ambassadors is working to further strengthen multi-academy trusts across the north. Altogether, more than £767 million of additional pupil premium funding was allocated to schools in the north, which over-indexed on pupil premium funding in comparison with the rest of the country.

The Government did indeed commit themselves to spending £70 million on improving educational attainment in the north. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that they have in fact spent considerably more than that?

I am happy to confirm that we remain committed to all areas of the country. In English education there is nothing as simple as a north-south divide. There are areas of educational under-achievement in the north, the south and the middle. We need to seek them out wherever they are, and provide the support and accountability that are needed to ensure that those children too can thrive.