Deprivation in Selby has led to poor educational outcomes for people schooled in the town, a study suggests.
Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows how people from small towns who sat their GCSEs in the 2012/13 academic year generally had better educational attainment than those from cities.
But Selby, a town of less than 90,000 people, scored minus -5.4 for educational attainment, worse than its neighbouring city Leeds (-3).
Scores were marked for each town or city by starting with an average of zero, while negative scores reflect poorer than average performance, and positive scores mean better than average attainment.
Overall, small towns had an average score of 0.4, medium towns had a score of negative 0.3 and large towns had a score of negative 0.9.
Henri Murison, chief executive of Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “The issues across the North of England, whether you live in a city or a town, is that if you are growing up in an economically disadvantaged household, you are less likely to make as much progress at secondary school in particular.
“This relationship is most pronounced if you are consistently on free school meals throughout your time at school.
“Comparing towns based on one year’s results, with relatively small numbers involved, makes it hard to be sure if this picture across North Yorkshire is a long-term difference or not.
“However, Selby is the most deprived town and had the lowest performance, suggesting that deprivation levels are the overriding reason for what we are seeing in these figures.”
York above average
York scored 0.5, just above the average, a significantly higher score than most large towns and cities.
Other small towns like Whitby (0.2), Tadcaster (1.6), Ripon (2.5) and Wetherby (5.3) all scored positively.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This analysis demonstrates how closely aligned educational outcomes are to levels of deprivation.
“Raising attainment is therefore dependent not only on ensuring that schools in areas of high deprivation are well supported and resourced, but also on wider efforts to tackle poverty and improve local economies.
“The government must stop penalising these schools through performance tables and Ofsted inspections which stigmatise them and make improvement harder to achieve.
“It must instead work with schools, colleges, local authorities, other agencies and businesses to revive these areas and give families better opportunities.”
Richard Prothero from the ONS said “there tends to be more deprivation in larger towns and cities than in small towns” hence the conclusion of the research.
The worst score recorded was in Thurnscoe, South Yorkshire, which had a score of -10, while Chorleywood in Hertfordshire had a score of 9.4.
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