Area’s high rate of uneducated adults

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WEARSIDE has some of the highest numbers of uneducated adults in the country, according to a new report.

Research by the University and College Union (UCU) showed the North East faces “huge disparities” and a “postcode lottery” when it comes to educational achievement.

The UCU ranked the 632 parliamentary constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales according to the percentage of working- age people (16 to 64) who have no qualifications.

In Washington and Sunderland West – which includes Barmston, Castletown and Red House – up to 16.2 per cent of residents have no qualifications, making it 95th worst in the country.

In Houghton and Sunderland South – which includes Copt Hill, Hetton and Shiney Row – 13.5 per cent have no qualifications.

The figure for Sunderland Central – which includes Hendon, Pallion and Southwick – was 10.2 per cent.

UCU regional official Iain Owens said: “Our research shows that people living in parts of Sunderland are significantly more likely than the average to have no formal qualifications.

“It confirms the view that people from working-class areas are much less likely to progress educationally.”

Mr Owens said the axing of the Education Maintenance Allowances for teenagers, the tripling of tuition fees and that up to 300,000 adults on inactive benefits face annual study charges of £1,000 intensified the problem.

“It demonstrates the folly of ending the Educational Maintenance Allowance and the introduction of massive student fees,” he said.

“These policies will hit working class youngsters hardest and increase further the gap between rich and poor.”

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said the areas with low levels of qualifications were most likely to suffer from a “cocktail of coalition policies” that will restrict access to education.

The worse constituencies include Glasgow North East, where 35 per cent of adults have no qualifications, and Birmingham Hodge Hill.

“There is a real danger that children growing up in places where it is not unheard of to have no qualifications will have their ambition blunted and never realise their full potential,” said Ms Hunt.

“The Government needs to urgently revisit its education policies if we are to really offer improved life chances to all.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “The Government is committed to ensuring everyone gets the education and skills they need to find work and get on in life, and that young people who have left school without basic literacy and numeracy get free lessons.

“We are giving further education colleges and training providers greater flexibility, to meet the skills needs of their communities and fully funding training for young adults undertaking their first qualifications.

“We are building the biggest apprenticeship programme our country has ever seen, with funding in place for 360,000 apprentices this year alone.

“No one should be put off going to university as a result of student finance reforms.

“New students will not pay upfront costs. There is a very generous package of financial support and graduates will make lower loan repayments than they do under the current system.”

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