Mike Parker, Director of SCHOOLS NorthEast, said:
“These results have to be seen in the context of a significant overhaul in GCSEs this year. Experts predicted this would be the case and it has seen more schools across the country go below the floor standard.
“That said, we have to be more ambitious for educational outcomes here in the North East.
“The results highlight the disparity of our region compared to others in the country and there are three main areas that have to be urgently addressed.
“Firstly, secondary schools in the region have to be given a level playing field. The Department for Education has neglected the North East. Too many of its initiatives and major funding allocations which are too often focused in and around Opportunity Areas. The North East remains the sole region outside of London not to be included in this flagship policy area.
“North East schools are operating with a fraction of the money that London schools enjoy; they face a recruitment crisis; and, they face some of the most challenging conditions in a sparsely-populated region with widespread poverty which is proven to be the major drag on education attainment.
“That said, leaders in the region cannot, and must not, accept this as a fait accompli. They have to ruthlessly pursue measures to bring about a step change in education in this region. A relentless focus on evidence-based practice has to be at the core of all that schools do now and in future.
“Finally, the communities around schools have to become more actively engaged and supportive of education in the region. Employers – private, public and third sector – have to understand and embrace their role in improving the basic skills of their workforces. They also need to positively promote the importance of education and back schools so that the parents and grandparents they employ fully understand the role they play in supporting their children through secondary education.”