WORCESTERSHIRE has been named among the worst parts of the UK for social mobility, according to a shock official report.

Three parts of the county have come under criticism for contributing to a "local lottery" in helping poorer children realise their full potential.

Wychavon has been named the third worst area of the entire country for helping disadvantaged youngsters get on, with only West Somerset and Norwich faring worse.

And Worcester has also scored badly, coming in the bottom 20 per cent of areas nationwide at 35th worst - with the city criticised as a "social mobility coldspot".

The Wyre Forest also came out negatively, placed at 20th worst.

Worcester was deemed to be doing "relatively badly given its level of deprivation", which is very low overall - suggesting the small band of disadvantaged children stay that way.

The findings have been published as part of the national Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, set up by central Government to investigate Britain's inequalities.

It was led by ex-Labour MP Alan Milburn, one of former Prime Minister Tony Blair's former confidantes, who has called his findings "shocking" and a "wake-up call for educators and employers" across the country.

The research examined 324 local authority areas for the first time ever on a "geography of disadvantage" basis, studying 16 different indicators including the educational results of children getting free school meals at early years, school and then higher education.

The work also involved examining the labour market and people's chances of "turning good qualifications into a good job and good standard of living".

Mr Milburn said although Wychavon fared exceptionally poorly, "places like Worcester, Oxford and Cambridge" also came out of it "badly".

The verdict has stunned community leaders, some of whom have launched an urgent probe into the findings.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "A great deal of this is historic, particularly when you look at the old Elgar tech school which let down thousands of students.

"I do think children have a far better chance of going to a good school now, and we've got to continue that progress."

Jack Hegarty, the managing director of Wychavon District Council, said: "We’re surprised by the figures and are working to understand the data and the reason why Wychavon has been ranked as it has.

"Once we’ve carried out this analysis we’ll be sharing it with partners and discussing what action needs to be taken."

Nigel Huddleston, who is Wychavon's MP, added: "I find it hard to believe, I go around a lot of schools in this country and ours are very good.

"If there are problems around this then I'll work to solve it but believe me, our standards are very high."

Councillor Ken Pollock, the county council's cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: “This report covers a complex set of issues and more time is needed to evaluate it fully.

“However it does appear to shed new light on some of the conventional assumptions in terms of social mobility.

“Rather than a simple north south divide, this report points to a modern, dynamic economy providing greater social mobility for younger people.

“This report reinforces the need, as identified by the council and underpinning our priorities, for a growing and dynamic economy based on innovation in technology rich industries in Worcestershire such as advanced manufacturing, cyber technology and agri-tech.

“The commitment from the local authority, together with our partners in the public and private sectors will see more opportunities for young people in Worcestershire.”

He also pointed to the county aiming to create 16,000 new jobs across Worcester, Malvern, Kidderminster and Redditch by 2020 and the fact “nine out of 10” county schools are rated either good or outstanding by Ofsted, insisting progress is being made.

In his report Mr Milburn hit out "places close to each other with very different results", with other parts of Worcestershire not included among various tables assessing the worst areas.

The top 10 areas for social mobility were all in London, led by Westminster.

Mr Milburn said it "lays bare the local lottery in social mobility", hitting out at policy makers for “damaging the prospects” of disadvantaged children.

* Research lays bare England's new geography of disadvantage - see the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission findings for yourself HERE.