09:29AM, Friday 08 December 2017
Disadvantaged children face some of the best life prospects growing up in Slough compared to other parts of England, new research has suggested.
The Government’s Social Mobility Commission’s latest report into inequality in Britain ranked Slough in the top quarter of England’s 325 local authorities for social mobility.
Areas were ranked by assessing the life chances of youngsters from deprived backgrounds, which the commission defines as those on free school meals.
The watchdog analysed children from nursery through to university, and found a huge variation in prospects of youngsters from disadvantaged families depending on where they grow up.
The report found the worst performing areas for social mobility are no longer inner city areas, but remote rural and coastal areas, and former industrial areas.
Slough was ranked 45 in the social mobility table, with Westminster coming top.
According to the commission, 52 per cent of five-year-olds on free school meals from Slough achieve ‘a good level of development’ by the time they are ready to start primary school, compared with 30 per cent in West Somerset.
A total of 38 per cent go on to achieve the expected level in reading, writing and maths at the end of Key Stage 2 and 86 per cent go to a secondary school with a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating, compared to the English average of 73 per cent.
The report says 37 per cent of the borough’s disadvantaged children go to university while 46 per cent of those who finish education at 18 achieve two or more A-levels or equivalent qualifications.
Youngsters in Slough will still battle to get onto the property ladder, with house prices costing eight times the average wage.
Slough Youth Parliament (SYP) chairman Adam Bholah said: “This news is welcomed, however I do feel like more can be done to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to benefit from the top jobs, wages and opportunities available.”
He called for work experience hubs, which he said was a top issue raised at SYP’s Make Your Mark consultation this year, as well as apprenticeship hubs.
“More employer engagement with young people would be a step in the right direction,” he added, and called on large employers like SEGRO to be involved.
Slough Borough Council leader Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) said: “Slough is a working town where the opportunities mean nearly everyone can prosper.
“Our communities are ambitious, the education children receive is some of the best in the country and the range of jobs on offer is second to none.
“Our aim is to ensure this investment in our town benefits all our residents. Whatever someone’s start in life, however tight money may be, we want to make sure we give our residents the tools they need to succeed.”
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