A new £24million boost for education in the North East could help improve job prospects and opportunities for young people in Northumberland.
Education Minister Damian Hinds launched Opportunity North East following a visit to the county yesterday, and said it was vital to prevent pupils in the region, which had a lower percentage of young people going to top universities than any other area of the country in 2017, from 'missing out'.
Half of the fund is set to be invested in boosting early career training for new teachers in a bid to raise standards in schools. The remaining £12million will go towards driving up standards, improving outcomes for students aged 16 or over and improving pupil transition between schools in the county to ensure that progress is maintained.
The programme will also partner local businesses in order to create more opportunities for young people across the region.
Coun Wayne Daley, deputy leader and cabinet member for children's services at Northumberland County Council, said: "This is extremely good news, and a very welcome investment in education in our region.
"We've been lobbying government to get this funding and we are delighted that he came to Northumberland following my invitation.
“We look forward to seeing further detail around plans for the Challenge Fund, and to working with partner authorities and with our own schools to ensure that we gain maximum benefit for children and young people in Northumberland.
“Today we had positive and detailed discussions with the Secretary of State during his visit to the county as we continue to strive to improve standards and ambition in all our schools.”
Mr Hinds said: "There are today too many education measures on which the North East is listed ninth in the list of nine English regions. It doesn't have to be like that.
"In fact the North East has a lot of really outstanding education - especially so at primary level.
"The job now is to spread that through more of the secondary level and beyond."
"It's vital that we do this to make sure that no part of our country feels as though it has been left behind, and that every community feels like this is a country that works for everyone."
Projects funded by the programme will be in place in 2019, and an executive board of education, business and council leaders in the North East is to be formed with the goal of pushing Opportunity North East forward.
Mr Hinds was in Northumberland yesterday, where he unveiled a plaque to declare the new £5.8million Darras Hall Primary School officially open.