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Teenagers in Great Yarmouth and Waveney some of the least likely to apply for university

Graduation caps thrown in the air. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Graduation caps thrown in the air. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Teenagers in the region are some of the least likely in the country to apply for a place at university.

Data from UCAS, the body which operates the application process for British universities, has revealed the top and bottom 10pc of application rates in 2017.

Of the 59 constituencies in the bottom 10pc - and with number one having the lowest percentage - Great Yarmouth ranked fourth, with just 18.9pc of 18-year-olds applying for a place by the January 15 deadline.

MORE: How a new initiative could improve life chances for Norwich’s deprived children

Cambridgeshire North East placed 23rd, with 23.5pc, and Waveney was ranked 57th, with 26.3pc.

Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth.

Picture: James Bass

Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Nowhere in Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire made it into the top 10pc, with many of the highest percentages found in and around London.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders - a role which will be taken over by Bury St Edmunds headteacher Geoff Barton in April - said the figures reinforced links between deprivation and attainment.

“These figures suggest that university applications are higher in more affluent constituencies and lower in those with more disadvantage, and therefore reflect the well-known link between socio-economic inequality and educational attainment,” he said.

“Schools and colleges in challenging areas are working incredibly hard to close that attainment gap and support pupils who do not have the same advantages in life as their wealthier peers.”

Secretary of State for education, Justine Greening visits City College, Norwich.

PHOTO: Nick ButcherSecretary of State for education, Justine Greening visits City College, Norwich. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

MORE: Could Norwich and Fenland get the first of Theresa May’s new grammar schools?

But he said the education system could not “solve the impact of significant socio-economic inequality on its own”, and that provision of well-paid jobs and affordable housing was vital.

The low percentages in local constituencies are unlikely to come as a surprise - East Cambridgeshire and Fenland is one of education secretary Justine Greening’s 12 opportunity areas, a scheme to address the gap between poorer children and their better-off classmates..

Meanwhile, a Norfolk Community Foundation report from October found that Great Yarmouth was the second worst place in the UK for limiting youth ambition.

Nationally, the highest application rate in the country was in the Conservative-held seat of Wimbledon, south-west London, where 70.3pc applied.

Analysis: Why are pockets of the region left behind?

University is, rightly, not the goal for every pupil.

But with our traditionally underachieving areas in the bottom 10pc - and with plenty of affluence in Norfolk and Suffolk - why are pockets of the region left behind?

In recent years, geography - rather than poverty - has somewhat defined underachievement.

Generalisations about ‘inner-city schools’ in the capital have been replaced by coastal and rural towns, with Waveney, Great Yarmouth and east Cambridgeshire identified as challenges.

Experts say better-off-areas, such as Norfolk, are often worse are creating opportunities for disadvantaged children than more deprived communities.

Their relative isolation makes recruiting teachers and strong leaders particularly difficult, while the lack of surrounding school support can leave them cut off.

Figures also show that, with exceptions, coastal schools generally have a more deprived intake.

Areas which have relied on tourism, shipping and manufacturing have struggled in the move to a services-based society, with high-tech hubs clustering around built-up towns and cities.

• Do you have an education story we should be writing about? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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