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Issue:- 24 November  2011

Half of all young people in cities are not getting the grades in Maths and English GCSE to get them a job

AS youth unemployment reaches a record high, Centre for n Cities, on Thursday, 24 November 2011, has published research showing many young people are leaving school without the basic literacy and numeracy qualifications that employers require.

The report, sponsored by ICAEW, shows that between 2007 and 2010 an average of almost 50% of pupils in cities left the education system without A* to C grades in GCSE Maths and English. This, the Centre argues, not only has implications for young people’s futures but also directly impacts on the economies of the cities they live in because businesses do not have access to the pool of skills they need.

As policy makers seek to support growth and the UK’s global economic competitiveness, this report highlights the need to ensure we have the skills base necessary to meets these aspirations in the long-term.

Most notably, there is an obvious correlation at city level between GCSE Maths and English attainment and youth unemployment. The research shows cities perform at a similar level when you measure performance of GCSE A* to C grades across all subjects, but strikingly there are huge disparities between cities when looking at pupils’ performance in Maths and English.

The Centre argues that owing to a misalignment of incentives in the education system schools are currently encouraged to strive for their pupils to attain 5 A* to C grades, even if these grades are achieved in less academic subjects. This means that schools are responding to the demands of an accountability system which overlooks the importance of Maths and English.

Centre for Cities is urging the Government to go further in its current plans to reform school league tables to ensure that the education system is aligned with the needs of businesses. Much greater weight should be attached to Maths and English attainment when measuring school performance in order to incentivise schools to focus on these core subjects. The Centre is also calling for the Pupil Premium to be used by local education authorities in struggling cities to help teachers that have the difficult job of helping their pupils to attain qualifications in Maths and English, to do so.

Joanna Averley, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities said:- "Schools have been judged on qualification-driven league tables that do not differentiate in terms of subjects taken. This acts as a disincentive for schools get good grades in what might be perceived as the tougher subjects like Maths and English. This is more evident in cities with high youth unemployment, where a cycle is being reinforced because young people are not leaving education with the skills businesses need.  We know that schools in some areas have a really difficult task, but the system must incentivise schools to support pupils to get good qualifications in Maths and English. The government has taken steps to address this issue, but they could go further. This rebalancing is needed urgently to ensure schools are equipping young people with the basic numeracy and literacy skills they will need to get a job."

Mark Protherough, Executive Director, Learning & Professional Development for ICAEW, said:- "Now, perhaps more than ever before, high quality education serves as a vital pathway to economic competitiveness, both in the UK and around the world. If our country is not just to compete, but also to succeed in that global environment, we must reinvigorate our schools and students with the skills that drive the economy. Put simply, the nation’s future depends upon our willingness today to create a new educational partnership, one that raises academic expectations of all children and provides them with the skills, tools and resources needed to help them compete successfully."

The following table shows how youth unemployment in cities correlates to GCSE attainment. Those cities with high youth unemployment characteristically have significantly lower attainment in GCSE Maths and English.


Youth Unemployment 2007-2010

Average 5 A* to C GCSEs (all subjects)


Average 5 A* to C (including Maths and English)


















































































 Christmas Market has global appeal!

LIVERPOOL’S Christmas market has a true international flavour for 2011! It features more than 50 craft and food stalls from across five continents and is offering treats from as far away as China and South Africa. New this year is a traditional German Gluhwein bar in the shadow of the Christmas tree on Church Street and a new 7 metre high German ‘windmill’ chalet on Church Street. The Moroccan craft market, which proved so popular earlier this year makes a welcome return near to the Metquarter. The market, which is in Lord Street, Paradise, Street, Whitechapel and Church Street, runs from 24 November 2011 to 22 December 2011. Councillor Tim Moore, cabinet member for the environment and climate change said:- "We have got a new and improved market this year with the emphasis very much on quality. You can do your Christmas shopping from around the world in a few city centre streets!" The market, run by Geraud Markets Liverpool Limited, is open between:- 10am and 6pm with Sunday trading between:- 11 am and 5pm.

‘Business as usual’ at JLA despite Servisair industrial action

ON Wednesday, 23 November 2011, airline handling agent Servisair informed management at Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) that it is ‘business as usual’ despite being unable to resolve the industrial dispute with some of its staff based at the airport. A number of Servisair staff continued to work despite the plans for industrial action, to ensure all travelling passengers are not affected. Not all airlines operating from Liverpool John Lennon Airport had been handled by Servisair. Of the daily passenger throughput at the Airport, approximately half of all passengers travel with easyjet, who use an alternative handling agent who is not involved in this dispute. Paul Staples, Airport Director at Liverpool John Lennon Airport commented just before the strike:- "Naturally we are disappointed that this planned industrial action appears to be going ahead, however the reassurances we have been given by Servisair, means that we expect those passengers whose airline uses Servisair, to be able to fly to and from here during without disruption during this dispute." Let s know if this affected you and are you member of the Servisair staff? Let us know your views by emailing us at:-

Charity volunteer awarded scholarship

FOR more than a decade, Samantha Earnshaw has given up hours of her spare time as a volunteer with St John Ambulance. Her dedication to that charity, among others, has earned her the rank of Corporal, a trip to meet Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace, and now an Excellence in Volunteering Scholarship from Edge Hill.

Samantha, who is also actively involved with Oldham Young Carers, which provides respite for children who support disabled family members, says her interest in volunteering has its roots in her own childhood and her own remarkable resilience.

Samantha explains:- "I suffer from a genetic condition called Treacher Collins Syndrome which affects my hearing and also causes facial disfigurement. I didn’t get my first hearing aids until I was 18, I just sort of muddled along before then. I used to get bullied at school, but it made me think that rather than let it get me down I should try and help others less fortunate than me. That’s what made me volunteer in the beginning, and once I started I found I couldn’t stop!”

In fact, Samantha’s love of volunteering has followed her to Edge Hill. She started a BSc (Hons) in Learning Disabilities Nursing and Social Work in September 2011 and within days found herself agreeing to be course representative.

Samantha explained that:- "It has been quite a hectic time; very intensive and I my timetable means that, for a while, most of my volunteering will have to be done at weekends. I feel a real sense of pride when I help other people, especially when I’m working with young disabled people. Even if I only spend an hour or so with them, it is very rewarding to see what a difference it can make to their lives."

Samantha’s main aim after graduating is to work with disabled children in a community role. She said:- "I’m just
someone who always wants to help others and I have lots of ambitions, but I realise that some things might have to wait until I have finished my course. Right now I’ve got to plan my time carefully so I can fit everything in!"

Autumn Statement must deliver for SMEs, warns Forum of Private Business

A number of key issues affecting small business must be addressed by Government in the Autumn Statement, if the economy is to grow next year, a not-for-profit lobby group has said in a letter to ministers.

The Forum of Private Business has written to Business Secretary, Vince Cable; Small Business Minister, Mark Prisk; and Chancellor, George Osborne; who will deliver the statement outlining its main arguments for change.

In line with the Forum’s Get Britain Trading campaign, the Forum wants to see the Government take action in a number of crucial areas, including education and training, export, tax, finance, and bank lending.

If trading conditions for smaller businesses improve, the Forum believes the SME sector will be able to deliver growth in the wider UK economy and provide much-needed jobs to rein in spiralling unemployment.

Key points in the Forum’s letter ask for:-

► A focus is schools to improve employability – employees require work ready recruits.

► A greater business voice in how skills money is spent – employers are eager for either a voucher scheme for skills training or NI reductions for apprentices.

► Support from Government on raising awareness of mid-caps towards exporting for the first time.

► To ensure the Regional Growth Fund delivers funds on a much quicker basis by relaxing requirements on due diligence for low value bids, while continuing to support and clarify the role of LEPs.

► Help rural businesses access the support they need, including support for shared banking services where counter services are diminishing.

► Ensure retailers who treat suppliers unfairly are properly punished with fining powers available to the Groceries Code Adjudicator.

► Business Rates frozen in April 2012.

► Postpone all fuel duty increases scheduled for next year.

► Further tax breaks for private lenders, as well as equity investors, which would ease credit conditions for small

► Do more to increase confidence in alternative sources of finance for low turnover businesses, and introduce tax incentives for alternate lenders.

The Forum’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford said that:- "Following the announcement in the summer of the second stage of the Growth Review as part of the Autumn Statement, the Forum has consulted widely with our members and taken part in policy discussion across Government. The policy proposals outlined in the letter to ministers, which will support not just our members but the UK’s wider small business community, have been formed by these discussions and are largely aimed at helping SMEs trade profitably in the coming year. The Forum believes one of the key issues facing the UK economy is a business sector lacking sufficient confidence to invest. And while the effect of external market conditions is difficult to control, one action Government can take is to set out clear financial and regulatory domestic road map in the years ahead. Above all we recommend the Government shows consistency, clarity, and certainty. It’s our belief that the recommendations set out in this letter are capable of generating further growth in the private sector, and thereby support a jobs recovery in the UK. We hope the ministers will find our input useful."

Let us know your views on this topic by emailing us at:-


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