Government research finds children in coastal schools are falling behind their inland peers

Children in coastal schools achieve on average two and half grades lower at GCSE than their inland peers according to new research by the Department of Education (DofE).

Speaking this week at an event hosted by public service think tank Reform, Education Secretary Damian Hinds warned traditional ideas of the north-south divide were "too simplistic."

Children in coastal schools are being left behind compared to their peers. PIC: File photo.

Children in coastal schools are being left behind compared to their peers. PIC: File photo.

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He said: "There’s another type of location, which we’ve had more focus on of late, and we now understand in greater detail: coastal areas, where people have long had a sort of suspicion that there is something endemic, which means that performance is lower on average. And the new research that we've got demonstrated that that is indeed true."

The research, published by the DofE last week looked at how various areas associated with disadvantage including ethnicity, language, part of the country and the home environment affect children's school performance.

It found attainment 8 scores for all pupils were, on average, 2.4 points lower in schools located in coastal areas equivalent to achieving around two and a half grades lower at GCSE.

Damian Hinds in Scarborough. PIC: Paul Atkinson

Damian Hinds in Scarborough. PIC: Paul Atkinson

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The gap becomes wider still when looking solely at disadvantaged children, who on average achieve the equivalent of three grades lower in coastal areas than the rest of the country.

It was also found that children in London are 1.5 times more likely to go to a selective university than elsewhere in the country.

Mr Hinds continued: "The performance of disadvantaged children in our biggest cities overall exceeds that in other types of areas."

He attributed the success of children in the capital to a high tutoring rate and higher density of schools but also pointed out a similar effect could be seen in cities across the country.

In 2016 Scarborough was included in the DofE's £72 million Opportunity Area programme which provides extra support to children with the intention of reducing the divide.

Mr Hinds added: "It’s no coincidence that our Opportunity Areas Programme includes many coastal towns, like Blackpool and Hastings and Scarborough and the north coast."