Report shows Northern children are falling further behind

The scale and impact of worsening child poverty in the North of England have been laid bare in an extensive new report.

According to the findings of the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), the 'child of the North' is poorer, unhealthier, less educated and lonelier than children in the rest of England.

In many different ways, the lives of Northern children have become harder since the start of the pandemic, and the North-South divide has grown wider.

The report's findings highlight the knock-on effects of poverty on children's health and wellbeing - unearthing regional differences in obesity, educational attainment and mental health issues.

Whilst the full impact of the pandemic is not yet known, the NHSA suggests the North has suffered disproportionately.

Without proper intervention, they argue, the consequences of COVID-19 for Northern children will be "bleak".

They express that in order to tackle the deprivation and inequality that exist in the North, a 'child first, place-based' recovery plan needs to be established to enable children in the North the ability to reach their full potential.

Child mental well-being

Data shows children in the North of England experienced more mental health difficulties compared to children in the rest of the country.

And the mental health conditions children in the North developed during the pandemic will cost an estimated £13 billion.

Pregnancy and Early Years

The report also reveals a massive drop-off in nursery and childcare services for eligible children.

According to the NHSA "pervasive" regional inequalities in infant and child health before the pandemic have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

"If we are serious about levelling up the life chances of all children and young people held back by inequality profound improvements need to be made to improve the health, wellbeing and life chances of children in the North."

School and education

The North-South "educational attainment" gap is well documented.

Last year, the percentage of A-level entries in 2021 awarded the top grades (A* or A) was far lower in the North than the South.

  • North-east England: 39.2% received top grades (worst performing region).

  • London: 47.9% (best performing region.

The NHSA say the COVID-19 pandemic will serve to further widen this damaging gap over the coming years.

Among other findings, their report showed children in the North missed out on more schooling over the course of the past two years than their southern counterparts.

Obesity and bad health

"Childhood obesity is more prevalent in the North of England and the children of the North are less likely to be physically active," say NHSA.

  • For further details, visit the full report here.

The NHSA have made the following 18 recommendations to 'level up' on child poverty and its ramifications:

Credit: NHSA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously promised to 'level up' educational inequalities, saying there is “absolutely no reason” why some children in the country “should lag behind”.

During this year's Conservative Party Conference, he promised offer a "levelling up premium of up to £3,000" to encourage talented maths and science teachers work in disadvantaged areas. 

Responding to the report, the Government has issued a statement saying: "Our ambitious recovery plan continues to roll out across the country, with £5 billion invested in high quality tutoring, world class training for teachers and early years practitioners, additional funding for schools, and extending time in colleges by 40 hours a year.