CHILDREN from a poorer background in Weymouth and Portland are said to have one of the worst chances of succeeding in England- but local success stories have spoken out to encourage youngsters to reach for their dreams.

The government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has put together the first Social Mobility Index, which compares the chances of a child from a disadvantaged background doing well at school and getting a good job.

Of the 324 authorities Weymouth and Portland came 287th- in the worst 20 per cent- deemed a social mobility 'coldspot'.

The report analysed criteria across four ‘life stages’ to assess the chance young people have of succeeding – early years, school, youth and adulthood.

Of these, Weymouth and Portland ranked in the bottom 10 per cent for school indicators and adulthood indicators, being put as the 32nd worst and 22nd worst respectively.

Figures show that less than half (47.5 percent) of children eligible for free school meals in Weymouth and Portland attend a primary school rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, making it the fourth worst in the country and that less than 20 percent (19.7 percent) of people living in the borough are in managerial and professional occupations, which places it in the bottom 20 boroughs nationally.

Just three percent of young people eligible for free school meals at the age of 15 go on to attend a selective university and less than a third (28.9 percent) of 15 year olds eligible for free school meals achieve five good GCSEs including English and maths.

But successful youngsters from the borough have shared their stories in a bid to show this is not always the case.

Libby Reynolds, 18, is a budding entrepreneur and runs her own independent Avon Leadership business and travels all around the country to recruit sellers.

She was inspired by her parents and said that background and where you are from are not the main factors in success.

When asked if these were the most important factors, she said: “My parents didn’t have a lot of money when they first started.

“We’re all Avon representatives and they didn’t have a lot of money when they started. We used to shop in charity shops and that sort of thing.

“[Being from the borough]definitely doesn’t have an effect at all. I disagree.”

Libby said attitude, dedication and hard work can help you achieve great things.

Dorset County Council said it recognises issues faced in Weymouth and Portland and that it is committed to making improvements.

A spokesperson said: “We have always recognised the particular issues faced by residents in certain localities within the Weymouth and Portland area.

“We are committed to improving the social mobility of people in Dorset so that they can benefit from the rewards of better-paid and higher-skilled.”

Nigel Reed, Weymouth BID manager recently held talks with staff at Weymouth College to see how the two can help each other.

He said: “The BID just had a meeting with the principal and the business representative just to go through what we can work together to do.

“The BID area has a lot of businesses in it – hotels, restaurants, holiday parks, leisure facilities.

“There are bodies out there who are trying to help where they can.”

Dorset County Councillor for Portland Tophill, often one of the areas most connected with deprivation, Cllr Paul Kimber said he wants to work to address issues.

He said: “I am keen to work with county and borough councillors and officers, churches, the voluntary sector and schools and colleges to address the issues of social mobility in particular relation to Portland.”

Neighbouring West Dorset faired far better, ranking 124th overall and raking 57th for school outcomes.

OVER the years, plenty of people from various backgrounds across Weymouth and Portland have gone on to be successful.

Mervyn Sharp, was a member of Weymouth Swimming Club and swam the English Channel seven times between 1967 and 1974 and is in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Actor Chris Stanton, originally from Weymouth, was a member of the WOW youth theatre group and has appeared on the big screen as well as in high profile musicals around the country and on the West End including in Anything Goes alongside Angela Rippon.

The area also has its share of famous faces, with Little Mix star Perrie Edwards spending her early childhood in Weymouth and attending Radipole Primary School.

Weymouth and Portland also boasts success in business with care home provider Agincare owned and founded by Derek Luckhurst, who is from the area and is also based on Portland.

The company operates 14 care homes as well as providing other care services.

Commercial property provider DJ property, which owns Link Park is based in Weymouth and its chief executive is Weymouth man Mickey Jones, who took over the business over from his father.