Norwich pupils at sharp end of education divide

Children taking their GCSEs.

Children taking their GCSEs.

The divide between the haves and the have nots is today exposed, as figures show a yawning GCSE achievement gap between different – and sometimes neighbouring – areas of Norfolk.

Despite the public perception of relative prosperity in the county, there are places where well over half of all 16-year-olds leave school without the “gold standard” of five A*-C GCSEs including English and maths.

In Norwich, just 44.2pc made the grade – in contrast to two districts on the city’s fringe.

In Broadland, 63.7pc got five good GCSEs including English and maths, and in South Norfolk, the figure was 63.5pc.

The gold standard is increasingly the minimum requirement for teenagers to go on to further education, and is seen as the measure of success at the end of 12 years of compulsory schooling.

The achievement gap – revealed among an unprecedented number of GCSE attainment tables published yesterday by the Department for Education (DfE) – shows how an accident of birth or a change of location can affect a child’s prospects.

Fred Corbett, deputy director of children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said education chiefs were “well aware” of the disparity, which was clear at even more local levels than district council areas.

He said there was a “clear link” between social deprivation and poor educational performance.

He said: “We have certainly known about this issue for some time. That’s why, in the most socially deprived places, we’ve gone for academy developments to provide new school buildings and drive up results.”

The “first wave” academies, were designed to be in more challenging areas, including Gorleston, Costessey and two on the edge of estates in Norwich.

He added: “We look in greatest detail at the more deprived areas in terms of providing advisor support to schools and support to governors in terms of recruitment and retention.”

To see GCSE subject figures for every Norwich high school, visit

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