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Norwich children 'almost two years behind' their peers

Disadvantaged children around 20.1 months behind at GCSE level compared to non-disadvantaged children. Photo: PA

Poor children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of England make almost two years less progress at school compared to richer youngsters across the country, research has found.

Even pupils who are not considered poor but live in one of the Government's "opportunity areas" - towns and cities considered to face the most challenges in improving children's life chances - are falling behind their peers nationally.

A £60 million scheme to promote social mobility was announced by Education Secretary Justine Greening, focusing on six "opportunity areas" including Norwich. The initiative is expected to be widened out to other parts of the country in the coming months.

Justine Greening, Education Secretary promoting social mobility.

A new study compared the performance of children in these areas with youngsters across England.

It found that in 2015, persistently disadvantaged youngsters in these six areas - children who are eligible for free school meals for 80% of the time between the ages of 11 and 16 - were around 20.1 months behind at GCSE level compared to non-disadvantaged children across England.

Wealthier pupils (those not on school meals) in these areas made around 4.7 months less progress compared to other youngsters nationally.

It also reveals that schools in these areas were most likely to see a fall in Ofsted's grading of their leadership and management.

There are areas of our region where children's aspirations to go to university or college are held back - like parts of Norwich, King's Lynn, Thetford, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft - all places with deep social mobility problems. But a new project is trying to change all that as ITV

Video report by ITV Anglia's Natalie Gray.