Yes. You can think of that in different ways. If you look at academic achievement, there’s a North South divide, but if you look at the distribution of income in the country, there’s a North South divide.
"One way of looking at it this is recognising that different parts of the country are culturally different, and there needs to be a provision to allow schools to reflect their local community."
Inequalities are distributed unevenly across the country, so if we want to tackle inequality, we need a strategy that tackles that in different parts of the country. Broadly speaking, you need to redistribute resources to the areas where there’s the most disadvantage, and I’m not sure that’s what’s happening at the moment. If you really wanted to tackle the inequality in schools, we would do much more to tackle the inequalities in society.
So what you have at the moment is a government that kicks schools when they don’t close the gap in achievement, whilst the government itself is increasing the gap in income and wealth. Closing the gaps in wealth and inequality would go a long way to helping close the achievement gaps in schools.
That’s one very obvious area where we need to look at the differences in different parts of country. But then another way of looking at it this is recognising that different parts of the country are culturally different, and there needs to be a provision to allow schools to reflect their local community. So that may mean things that they do in the curriculum that may be quite specific to their geographical area.
One example would be the extent to which a history curriculum might reflect local traditions and experiences. And of course in a society which is increasingly diverse, schools need the flexibility to be able to reflect and respond to the diversity and needs of their local community, as well as the student population.