A MULTI-MILLION pound investment to improve education and raise aspirations will stop the North-East being "left behind", the Education Secretary has claimed.

Damian Hinds was in Gateshead yesterday to launch Opportunity North-East, which aims to tackle issues that hold young people back and inspire them to access education, employment and training.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said the £24m scheme would go an "exceptionally long way" to help schools in the region.

But Labour MPs said the Government had "failed" youngsters and their policies had left them "worse off".

The scheme will see £12m invested in targeted approaches to improve the transition from primary to secondary school, whilst a further £12m will be used to boost early career training for new teachers, help improve the quality of teaching and raise standards in the region’s secondary schools.

Mr Hinds said: “There are today too many education measures on which the North-East is listed ninth in the list of nine English regions. It doesn’t have to be like that.

“It’s vital that we do this to make sure that no part of our country feels as though it has been left behind, and that every community feels like this is a country that works for everyone.”

Mr Houchen said: “This additional investment from government will go an exceptionally long way to help our schools tackle the challenges that they face – we have to do something now to prevent a lost generation of young kids on Teesside feeling shunned and left behind."

Mike Parker, director of Schools North-East, said: “This is a great first step to changing outcomes for children across the North-East – developing this as a regionwide initiative is an intelligent move.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill MP said: "Of course I welcome this initiative, but it is a bit late in the day for the Tories to start to pretend that they care about the aspirations and ambitions of the people of the North-East.

"The Government has failed our young people time and time again. I sincerely hope that this initiative works, but to be honest I for one won’t be holding my breath.’

Redcar MP Anna Turley said: “Whilst the government’s sudden interest in improving the life chances of our young people is welcome, they cannot disguise the fact that their decisions have left our young people worse off.

"They have pulled away the ladders and made it harder for the next generation get on and this new investment will not come close to the support they have already stripped away.”

Redcar Labour candidate Anna Turley. Redcar Labour candidate Anna Turley.

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland said: “This is great news and is something local heads asked for when I brought Damian to meet them in Guisborough in his first month in the job.”