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Children’s Commissioner aims to bridge north-south divide in life chances

The Children’s Commissioner for England has launched a new year-long project to find out why children in the north of England are falling behind their southern counterparts.

The project, ‘Growing Up North’, calls for regeneration heads, such as those involved in devolution deals, to use the opportunities presented by new city-regions and the Northern Powerhouse to improve the life outcomes of children in the region.

The project will explore how growing up in certain areas can impact on what happens to a child between childhood and adulthood. For example, while the north east consistently has among the best primary school results in the country, the region also has the lowest average adult incomes.

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “The economic disadvantage of the north is well established but as a place for children to grow up the reality is far more complex. Whilst there are parts of the north where children fall behind there are places where they excel.

“The regeneration underway provides a unique opportunity to reshape prospects for children in the north. I want every child, wherever they are born, to get the same opportunities and support to prosper. To do this, we need to understand why children do better in some parts of the country than others and what it is about the place they grow up in that supports them to succeed.”

The project will look to build on existing research undertaken by academics and public bodies while commissioning its own data analysis and cohort studies to understand regional differences. Longfield will also visit regional policy-makers and practitioners.

The advisory group for Growing Up North sees representation from academics and politicians at all levels, from the Conservative Greater Manchester mayoral candidate and leader of Trafford council Cllr Sean Anstee to Luciana Berger MP.

Once the project is complete Longfield will eventually make clear recommendations to local, regional and national government advising how they can improve the life chances of children in the region.

(Image c. Creatas)

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