YORK is one of the worst performing areas in the country when it comes to a gap in achievement between children from the best and worst off homes.

A report to the city council's learning and culture overview and scrutiny committee shows that by the time children in York reach 19, the gap in attainment between disadvantaged youngsters and their peers is one of the biggest in the country.

The report, by assistant director of education and skills Maxine Squire, said: "The gap is evident in Early Years and widens throughout compulsory education, post-16 participation and beyond.

"By the ages of 16 and 19, our system delivers outstanding outcomes for the cohort as a while, but fails a significant proportion of young people, including those who are disadvantaged or have other vulnerabilities such as Special Educational Needs (SEN)."

The data puts York in the worst performing ten percent of council areas in the country, and now the committee is to launch a review and officials in the council's education department have begun an in depth study - called York 300 - to find out what causes the attainment gap, and discover ways of tackling it.

The York 300 project is so called because in most school year groups across York there are about 300 children who are eligible for Pupil Premium extra school funding.

It studies all Pupil Premium eligible students in Year 5 this academic year, in an effort to find out what stops them reaching their full potential.

Jon Stonehouse, the council's director of children's services, education and skills said: “In York - as is the case nationally - there is a strong link between poverty and underachievement.

"We are seeing this more acutely in schools where there are less disadvantaged pupils, but it is evident across the city. We want to make sure all York’s children and young people have the best start in life and that means supporting them to achieve their true potential.

"We’ll be actively learning from those schools from within the city and nationally that have managed to narrow the attainment gap for disadvantage pupils successfully, during the 2014-15 academic year.

"By learning from best practice and marrying this with our understanding of what is and isn’t working here in York we’re looking to tackle this issue effectively.”