The future of the Northern Powerhouse could be at risk due to failing schools in Manchester and Liverpool, according to England’s chief education inspector.
Speaking at the Institute for Public Policy Research, Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw warned the Northern Powerhouse would “splutter and die” if politicians do not take action to improve education standards in the region.
Sir Michael urged politicians to put education at the heart of the vision for the North of England to become an economic powerhouse.
“Manchester and Liverpool are at the core of our ambitions for a Northern Powerhouse. They are the engines that could transform the prospects of the entire region,” he said.
“At some point, politicians in Manchester and Liverpool will have to accept that the Northern Powerhouse will splutter and die if their youngsters lack the skills to sustain it.”
According to Ofsted’s Annual Report published in December, nearly one in three secondary schools in the North and Midlands requires improvement or is inadequate compared to one in four elsewhere.
“I am calling on local politicians, be they mayors, council leaders or cabinet members, to stand up and be counted, to shoulder responsibility for their local schools,” said Sir Michael.
“Unless they do, I fear Manchester and Liverpool will never become the economic powerhouses we want them to be.”
Richard Threlfall, who is chair of the ICE Northern Powerhouse Steering Group and head of infrastructure at KMPG, said: “The growth opportunity for the North of England is huge, but there is much to be done to realise the vision.
“The productivity of the North of England is 11% lower than the UK average, and recent analysis has pinpointed lower skills attainment, as well as a history of underinvestment in infrastructure, as key reasons for that deficiency.
“Securing a pipeline of talent that can drive innovation and economic productivity in the North will be vital, along with significant improvements in transport connectivity and sustained investment. The Government’s strategy for the Northern Powerhouse must bring all these crucial pieces of the puzzle together and set out the changes needed to ensure the North prospers in the long term.”