Revealed: The Most Intelligent Regions in England

It has been revealed that Greater Manchester is officially the most intelligent area in England.

The research was conducted by international education providers Oxford Royale Academy. Data by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations showed which areas in England had the highest average results for core GCSE subjects in 2021.

A spokesperson for Oxford Royale commented on the findings: 

“Manchester has some of the finest education on offer in the UK, with secondary schools in Greater Manchester frequently dominating top slots in the Sunday Times Schools Guide for the North West, and the county’s academic prowess is clear in the stellar exam results of its students.

“Similarly, the outstanding results in Tyne and Wear show that the area is leagues ahead of the rest of the UK when it comes to academic success, and it will be interesting to see if this region is doing anything differently when it comes to preparing students for their exams. ”

Let’s look in closer detail at the top 10 and why these 2 Northern English areas are thriving.  

Top 10 most intelligent regions in England

RankRegionOverall Average
1Greater Manchester17.7
2Tyne and Wear  17.3
3Cambridgeshire  17.2
4Buckinghamshire  16.9
5Isle of Wight  16.3
7West Midlands  15.5
8Essex  14.8
9Greater London 14.1
10Cumbria 14.4

Manchester: The most intelligent region

The data showed that Manchester students are the most likely to get top grades (9) for core GCSE subjects:

  • Maths
  • English Language and Literature
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics

On average Manchester students are 48% more likely to achieve a grade 9 in these subjects. They are also 200% more likely to attain a grade 9 in all subjects in comparison to Kent which placed bottom.

Manchester pupils were especially impressive in chemistry. 28.4% of students achieve a grade 9 in this subject, which is higher than any other school in England.

In 2008 the Greater Manchester Challenge was launched. This £50 million government investment trained 1000 teachers to learn and develop their teaching practices. The result was that:

  • The most disadvantaged schools made three times more improvement than other schools in England
  • Faster improvement on Key Stage 4 exams than other schools in England
  • The number of schools rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ increased

It is obvious that this investment and improvement in teaching have continued to make great strides today. Manchester is now the most intelligent region in England.

Tyne and Wear: Second most intelligent region

In a strong showing for North England, Tyne and Wear follow Manchester as the second most intelligent region in England. An impressive 45% of students achieve the top GCSE grade of 9 in core subjects on average. Kent was also trounced by Tyne and Wear. They were 214% more likely to achieve top GCSE grades in core subjects.

The area did exceptionally well in English Literature. 8.7% achieved top GCSE grades in the subject. They scored high in all the key GCSE subjects especially the scientific subjects of Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. Overall they had a combined score of 17.3.

In 2018 the Newcastle Promise Board was established, that among other things, aimed to raise standards and maximise learning. Perhaps these learning initiatives are why Greater Manchester and Tyne are dominating academically.

Region & Rank% Grade 9 English% Grade 9 Maths% Grade 9 Chemistry% Grade 9 Physics% Grade 9 Biology
1 Greater Manchester78.824.824.123.9
2 Tyne and Wear8.78.623.222.623.3
3 Cambridge shire  7.310.421.922.923.3
4 Buckinghamshire  6.68.623.422.223.5
5 Isle of Wight  7.38.22021.624.4
6 Cheshire6.08.324.220.621.8
7 West Midlands 5.17.521.518.924,5
8 Essex  5.66.819.820.121.8
9 Greater London 6.76.818.818.919.5
10 Cumbria5.15.819.62021.5


Cambridgeshire takes bronze as the third most intelligent region behind Greater Manchester and Tyne. Only dropping 1% behind number two, Cambridgeshire students were 44% more likely to achieve a grade 9 in core GCSE’s.

The area did excel in maths, however, achieving a score of 10.4%. This meant they were a whole 1.6% more likely to achieve a grade 6 than the overall leader Greater Manchester. They were also only one point behind second place overall.


Buckinghamshire is the fourth most intelligent area with students achieving top marks 42% more times than average in England. Chemistry (23.4%) and Biology (23.5%) were their highest-scoring subjects.

Isle of Wight

Not to be outdone by mainland England. the Isle of Wight takes the number five spot to complete the top five. The island’s best score was for biology achieving 24.4%. This was only 0.1% behind the West Midlands who dominated that subject.

Shropshire & Kent

Shropshire did not make it to the top 15, even though they had the best score for English literature and language. They scored a 9.1. which meant Shoprshire students were 70% more likely to achieve a grade 9 for English literature and language than average. However low marks in other specific subjects like maths, and chemistry, brought the average score down which ranked them at number 20.

Kent had an abysmal performance in the Oxford Summer School investigation. This new research showed that they had fewer grade 9s than any other school in maths, science, or English. The new research showed students of Kent were particularly bad at maths. Only 2.4% of pupils earned a grade 9 in the subject.

This study gave compelling insight into educational faults and successes. Education is a lively and valuable part of the local community. Collective intelligence can help improve local businesses and local services. It is therefore imperative for schools and the government to offer as much support as possible, to struggling pupils and their schools.

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