Top grade attainment gap widening between London and North East pupils

23rd August 2018

TODAY’s GCSE results have shown a growing divide in the attainment of top grades between the North East and London.

SCHOOLS NorthEast, a charity established by serving Heads which engages 3,000 school leaders, said today’s results show that students in the region are achieving excellent results despite the odds, although diminishing funding and opportunity for students in the North East can no longer be ignored.

Chris Zarraga, Director of Operations at SCHOOLS NorthEast, said: “With this tougher GCSE system now in place, we want to praise our students and schools for the hard work and dedication that they have put in this year, which has led to the increase in 1.1% of our region’s students receiving the 4 pass grade or above compared to 2017. 

“This is a huge achievement for our region as we are second only to the South West in this increase in pass rates this year, which shows that against the odds, our students are triumphing despite the disadvantage that they face compared to their southern peers.

“However, the results today also shine a glaring light on the disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged students and how it affects attainment levels.”

In 2014, the gap between the North East and London attainment at A and A* level was 7.4%. This year the gap between the two regions at the new top grades (7-9) stands at 8.5%, having gradually widened over the last 4 years.

The recent Education Policy Institute (EPI) report on the state of education in England showed that educational disadvantage has become entrenched across parts of the North East. The data suggests disadvantaged pupils in some areas of the region are as much as two years behind their peers by the end of secondary school.

In the North East LEP area, the disadvantage gap at the end of secondary school was 21.4 months and the Tees Valley stood at an even higher gap of 22.4 months, compared to 9.2 months in London, the lowest in the country. 

Chris Zarraga continued: “The gap between the top grades in the North East and London is widening, and we cannot ignore the fact that this will be heavily influenced by opportunity and funding – something our region has severely lacked for many, many years. Now is the time for the government to acknowledge the detrimental effect that the lack of funding has on our region’s students and schools and what this will mean for their futures.”

Source:  JCQ ( and EPI report (