Damian Hinds non-committal on North East Opportunity Area at first Education Select Committee

The Secretary of State remained non-committal on the question of expanding Opportunity Areas to the North East in his first appearance before the Education Select Committee this week.

Asked by Gateshead MP Ian Mearns “How many times will we have to raise the fact” that there are no Opportunity Areas in the region before Ministers would “do something about it”, Mr Hinds suggested the North East could learn from what is happening in the current Opportunity Areas.

He said: “Directly funding programmes is only one part of the intended purpose of Opportunity Areas, the other is learning from evidence-based practice so it can be applied elsewhere.”

When pressed to say whether there are any plans to expand the programme to the North East, Mr Hinds did not directly respond.

The Secretary of State went on to say the North East is very strong in early years and primary phase but needed to see more improvement at secondary level. He admitted Opportunity Areas were one way of driving improvement but suggested there are many other programmes available to the North East.

SCHOOLS NorthEast has repeatedly highlighted how the North East has missed out on the £72 million scheme to boost opportunities for young people in areas with social mobility problems, despite our challenging social and economic circumstances.

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