Not only are house prices cheaper in the North, but pupils living in villages and the even more rural hamlets and homesteads across the North of England seem to achieve the highest results at key stage 2. Last year, 89 per cent achieved level 4 in English, some 3 per cent more than the national average. So, perhaps those arguing for small village schools know a thing or two.
By contrast, only 79 per cent of those educated in the urban areas of the Yorkshire and Humber region achieved level 4 in English. That means more than 4,000 pupils miss the target, who might have achieved it if their school had a similar outcome to their counterparts up the road.
Generally, urban children perform worse than their rural counterparts. That's partly down to the concentration of deprivation in urban areas. Children in the most deprived parts of the country achieve less well than those in the least deprived areas. Only 72 per cent of the 62,000 pupils living in the most deprived areas achieved level 4 in English compared with 89 per cent of the 52,000 living in the least deprived areas.
These figures are a good argument for looking at the way schools are funded in the future. They raise the question as to whether using different sized local authorities as a funding base is any longer tenable as a model. How much funding would it take to increase the percentage of boys in Hackney reaching level 4 from the present level of 69 per cent to the national average of 77 per cent? Since these same boys outperform the girls in maths, they must have the capabilities to do better.
John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.