Hartlepool MP Mike Hill ‘not holding his breath’ over £24m scheme for North East youngsters

Mike Hill MP.
Mike Hill MP.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill says he is not holding his breath that a new £24million government programme will improve the chances of young people in the North East.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds launched the Opportunity North East initiative this week, which aims to boost social mobility and raise aspirations for children.

Mr Hill said he welcomed the investment but accused the government of failing the region’s young people ‘time and time again’.

The Department for Education says that while the North East has some of the best-performing primary schools in the country, secondary school performance is significantly below other regions, and fewer 18-year-olds attend the country’s top universities than those from any other part of the country.

Read more: £24million fund launched to improve opportunities for young people in North East

Mr Hill said: “Not only did Margaret Thatcher decimate our communities by destroying our mining communities, but the Tories also presided over the death of the Redcar blast furnace in 2016 when it could have easily been prevented.

“For a party whose Education Secretary in 2014, Michael Gove, attacked East Durham Schools and in particular Easington Academy as ‘lacking ambition’ it truly is a bit late in the day for the Tories to start to pretend that they care about the aspirations and ambitions of the people of Hartlepool and the North East.

“I sincerely hope that this initiative works, but to be honest I for one won’t be holding my breath.”

The Opportunity North East initiative will include investing £12million to drive up standards, particularly at secondary level, and improve outcomes for students after leaving school plus another £12million to boost early career training for new teachers and help improve the quality of teaching.

Related content: Hartlepool boys less likely to pass Year 1 reading test than girls

Launching the initiative, Mr Hinds said: “Talent and potential are evenly spread, but opportunities sometimes aren’t.

“With Opportunity North East, I am going to work with schools, colleges, businesses and universities – including those beyond the area – to redress the balance.”