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3.2 Children and Young People

South Gloucestershire has a very similar proportion of young people as the rest of England, with 0-15 year olds making up 17.4% of the overall population, only slightly lower than the England average of 17.8%. The number of babies born to a resident of South Gloucestershire rose from approximately 2,600 in 2003 to a peak of 3,400 in 2012 – an increase of over 30%. The baby boom has started to show signs of decline with the number of resident births falling between 2012 and 2014. In the period to 2037, there is projected to be a 6% increase in births.

Early Years

Rates of infant mortality have consistently fallen over the last decade. In 2011-13 there were 20 infant deaths in South Gloucestershire. The infant mortality rate was 2.1 per 1000, considerably lower than the England rate of 4.0 per 1,000 and amongst the lowest in the South West.

While most children in South Gloucestershire live healthy lifestyles, a considerable number are engaged in risky behaviours with immediate and long term consequences for their health. An online survey undertaken by around 6,000 children in South Gloucestershire schools in 2014/15 provides a rich picture of the health issues of our children alongside routine data sources.

Smoking

Nationally some 80% of people who smoke started as teenagers and it can be presumed that this will be the same for smokers who live in South Gloucestershire. The ‘What About YOUth’ (WAY) survey released in 2014/15 showed that 9% of 15 year olds in South Gloucestershire were current smokers, higher than the England average of 8.2%. The online schools survey indicates that rates of smoking in Year 10 are significantly higher in those who are entitled to Free School Meals; 1 in 10 pupils who do not receive free school meals were smokers compared to 3 in 10 pupils receiving free school meals.

Physical activity and obesity

Physical activity amongst children is an essential aspect of child development. Immediate health benefits include reducing risk factors for obesity, improving motor skill development and social and emotional health. Habits track from childhood to adulthood and long-term maintenance of physical activity levels into later life can also impact on health.

In children aged 2-15 years in England, 68% of boys and 76% of girls do not meet the Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity recommendations. In South Gloucestershire, the online pupil survey found that 66% had at least 4 hours of physical activity per week, the level of activity higher in secondary schools (74%) compared to primary schools (63%).

Obese children are more likely to be ill, be absent from school, and to require more medical care than non-obese children. They are also more likely to become obese adults, with a higher risk of disability, premature mortality and chronic ill health. 17.8% of reception age (4-5) children in South Gloucestershire were overweight or obese in 2014/15. This is lower than the South West and England averages. In year 6 children (age 10-11), 27.0% were overweight or obese. Again this figure is lower than the South West or England average but means that by the age of 11 more than 1 in 4 of our children weigh more than is healthy for them. Levels of childhood obesity have declined in recent years. Childhood obesity is higher in more deprived areas.

Poverty

There are more than 6,000 children living in poverty in South Gloucestershire, two thirds of whom live outside the priority neighbourhoods. South Gloucestershire has a lower percentage of children living in low income families (10.5%) than the South West (14.2%) or England (18.0%). Rates are highest in Patchway and Kings Chase with one in five children living in poverty.  There has been no change in the percentage of children aged under 20 living in poverty over the last eight years although the actual numbers have increased – 5,970 in 2006 and 6,265 in 2012.

Looked After Children

There were 178 looked after children in South Gloucestershire in 2014-15. Educational outcomes are poor, with no child gaining 5+ GCSEs A-C (including English and Maths) in either 2014 or 2015.

Too many leave care with poor educational attainment and end up long term unemployed. It is estimated that care leavers constitute 20% of young homeless, 24% of the adult prison population, and 70% of sex workers.

In South Gloucestershire there were 167 care leavers eligible for a service in September 2015. A high proportion of care leavers were housed in suitable accommodation. The proportion of care leavers not employed, in education or training was 48% in 2014/15.

Young Offenders

In 2014 there were 129 first entrants to the criminal justice system aged 10-17 in South Gloucestershire. The local rate of first time entrants to the criminal justice system has been consistently higher than the England average although rates have fallen over time.

Young Carers

The 2011 census identified 524 children in South Gloucestershire aged 0 to 15 who were carers. Family income and GCSE attainment is significantly lower than non-carers. Young carers in work at age 20 or 21 are more likely to be in lower skilled occupations

Mental Health

One in ten children aged 5-16 are estimated to have a diagnosable mental health problem in the UK. Around 4,800 children and young people aged 5-19 in South Gloucestershire have a mental disorder. The online pupil survey undertaken in 2014/15 found that 7.2% of secondary pupils were habitual self-harmers. Hospital admissions due to mental health conditions has increased over the last 5 years as have admissions for self-harm in those under 19. Local rates of hospital admissions relating to/as a result of self-harm are similar to the national average.

Disabled Children

Disabled children are more likely to have poor outcomes compared with their peers including lower educational attainment, poorer health outcomes, and poorer employment opportunities. Families with a disabled child are more likely to have parents out of work, and to suffer family break up.

An estimated 3.0 – 5.4% of children have disabilities, when applied to South Gloucestershire this equates to between 1,607 and 2,893 children with some level of disability.

Safeguarding

During the year 2014-15, 173 children and young people were subject of a Child Protection Plan.  50 children and young people became the subject of a Child Protection Plan for a second or subsequent time.  While the trend of children subject to child protection has fallen and showed a period of stability the number of children becoming subject to a second or subsequent Child Protection Plan has increased and is at its highest for 5 years.

Over the course of 2014/15 2,358 children and young people were the subject of a referral to social care, 22% of referrals to Social Care were a second or subsequent referral.

Young People’s Demographics at a glance:

We have applied South Gloucestershire’s statistical data to an average secondary school of 1050 children and this is what it shows:

  • 503 would be girls, 547 would be boys;
  • 943 would be white British and 107 would be from ethnic minorities, most probably White European and mixed white and black Caribbean.
  • 48 would speak English as an additional language;
  • Most would grow up in stable, loving homes; of these 119 would be living in poverty;
  • 38 would have been known to Children’s social care and 3 would be in care with 2 on the child protection register;
  • 140 would have a Special Educational Need, 21 would have a Statement or EHC plan, most probably with a primary need on the autistic spectrum.
  • Overall they would be healthier than their parents, but 318 would be classified as overweight or obese;
  • Most young people would make a positive contribution to their community. Only 8 would get into enough trouble to be dealt with by the Youth Offending Team.

595 would leave school with 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE, and the majority would go on to further education. However, 107 would have struggled to read fluently by the time they were 11.