‘Tale of two boroughs’ as research into qualifications in Hackney reveals huge north-south divide

New research into adult education in Hackney has revealed a huge north-south divide, with part of the borough ranking among the worst performing constituencies in London.

One in five people of working age in Hackney South and Shoreditch have no qualifications, according to a report released by the University and College Union (UCU) last week.

This means the constituency has the third highest rate of residents with no qualifications in the capital at 18.9 per cent – following only Barking and Ilford South.

But neighbouring Hackney North and Stoke Newington has a lower than average number of constituents with no educational qualifications at just one in ten – exposing one of the greatest disparities within any London borough.

The UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said such a huge contrast was “shocking” and called on the coalition government to revise its education policies.

“Introducing fees for people on benefits who wish to study, for example, is incredibly counterproductive,” she said.

“We should be encouraging people to strive for qualifications, not pricing them out.”

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Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, said: “I am concerned about the number of people without qualifications and these figures shine a light on the situation. Many people do not believe there can be these issues so close to central London.”

She put the results down to the high turnover of residents in the area, the lack of training for employees and government cuts to adult education courses.

Ian Ashman, principal of Hackney Community College, in Falkirk Street, Shoreditch, said tackling educational inequalities was a priority.

“The fast-improving qualification rates of our young people mean that the situation is changing, however there are still many adults with low levels of qualifications.”