CHILDREN in some areas of the North fall, on average, one GCSE grade behind young people in the rest of the UK, according to a new report.

Educating The North, which was released today, calls for a £300m increase in government funding for disadvantaged areas across the North to help reduce the skills gap and boost the planned "Northern Powerhouse."

The report compiled by the George Osborne fronted Northern Powerhouse Partnership, sets out three major factors affecting the next generation; the importance of a child’s early years in their future development, how disadvantage drastically impairs performance and leaves them behind the rest of the UK when they leave school, and the need for businesses across the North to play a much bigger role in providing meaningful experience of work.

Among the suggestions made in the report are that the government reforms the pupil premium system, simplify the Northern Regional Schools Commissioners areas, which would make it easier to challenge poor performance in Multi Academy Trusts, and calling for every Northern business to mentor or "otherwise meaningfully reach out" on careers and enterprise skills to the same number of young people as they have employees.

Last year Bradford was named as an "opportunity area” that would get £11m funding to improve the life chances of the district's young people. Todays report calls for a longer-term government commitment to these opportunity areas, as well as the establishment of a new Northern Powerhouse Schools Improvement Board to tackle failing schools.

Bradford Council had helped contribute to the report.

Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “We welcome this timely report on the need for greater investment supporting schools and families in the North.

“The report is right to call for more investment in support for disadvantaged families. The funding cuts we are facing have meant that the council has had to take some difficult decisions about how we deliver services. We have repeatedly made the case to central Government of the need for more funding in this area.

“The report also looks at the way Northern Metro Mayors could lead on ensuring that we meet the skills gaps in our economy. This reinforces the importance of ensuring we can achieve a devolution agreement that works for our young people so that Bradford and Yorkshire can shape its own economic future.”

Referring to the call for businesses to get more involved in young people's education, Michael Jameson, Bradford Council’s Strategic Director for Children’s Services said: "In Bradford, through our Education Covenant, we recognise that education is everyone’s business and we support everyone from businesses, charities and the voluntary sector to work with schools to provide opportunities for our young people. We have fantastic relationships in place with our business community in Bradford who are working with our schools and we would welcome being able to build on this strength.”