The percentage of children achieving a good level of development at the end of reception in Norfolk in 2019 was 72.5%, this is close to England which is at 71.8% and steadily increasing in both Norfolk and England. In 2019 the percentage of pupils achieving grades 5 or above in English and Mathematics GCSEs in Norfolk was 39.7% compared with England at 43.2%.
In 2018 the number of conceptions of young women aged under 18 in the Norfolk area was 17.1 per 1000, higher than England at 16.7 per 1000. The rate of young women under the age of 18 giving birth has dropped by 55% between 2013 and 2019 in Norfolk following the trend of England in general. The number of teenage births fell from 119 in 2013 to 55 six years later (2019).
Hospital admissions caused by unintentional and deliberate injuries in children (aged 0-14 years) has decreased in Norfolk over the last 5 years and in 2019/20 stood at 92.0 per 10,000, slightly higher than the average in England at 90.6 in the same time period. Under 18’s admitted due to alcohol specific conditions was 28.3 per 100,000 in the Norfolk area in 2019/20, this was lower than England in the same time period at 30.7 admissions per 100,000.
Good mental health allows children and young people to develop resilience and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults. Children’s social and emotional wellbeing is important in its own right but also because it affects their physical health (both as a child and as an adult) and can determine how well they do at school. Good social, emotional and psychological health helps protect children against emotional and behavioural problems, violence and crime, teenage pregnancy and the misuse of drugs and alcohol. The rate of pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs in Norfolk schools is 3.27% which is about 3,796 children. This is higher than the rate in England at 2.7%, but the rate for Norfolk and England have both been steadily increasing over the past 5 years.
When children are not healthy it affects their ability to learn, thrive and develop. Most ill-health will be short-lived and episodic, children are particularly susceptible to respiratory and digestive conditions, and they are more likely than older age groups to injure themselves through accidents. The most common long-term conditions in childhood are asthma, epilepsy and diabetes.
Tooth decay is the most common oral disease affecting children in England, but even so it is largely preventable. Poor oral health can impact upon a child’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, play and socialise with other children; causes pain, infections and is a leading cause of hospital admissions in children. Oral health is therefore a fundamental part of overall health and wellbeing and when children are not healthy, this affects their ability to learn, thrive and develop. In Norfolk in 2018/19 17.3% of five-year olds show signs of dental decay compared to England which has an average of 23.4% in the same time period and the East of England at 19.0%.
Exercise & activity
High quality sport and physical activity for children is proven to help maintain a healthy bodyweight, reduce obesity, improve emotional wellbeing, promote positive social behaviours, improve cognitive functioning, promote optimal growth and development of essential motor skills. The Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines recommend children and young people get 60+ minutes of activity every day. In the year 2019/20 44.9% of English children and young people met that recommendation but 31.3% did on average less the 30 minutes. Boys are more likely to be active than girls and those from affluent households are also more likely to be active.
The early childhood and family service (ECFS) in Norfolk offers support to 0-5-year-olds and their families. They cannot offer face-to-face groups at the current time (April 2021), but they run free virtual group activity sessions, provide home learning packs and resources and offer informal support over the phone or online. They also run a range of free virtual learning courses for parents of 0-5-year-olds on topics such as improving your mental health and keeping children safe.
As of August 2020, there were 404 schools in Norfolk, 82% of these were rated as Good or Outstanding. This compares to England in general where 85% of schools were rated Good or Outstanding. Both statistics have remained relatively stable since 2018. Raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils is a high priority to reduce inequality and encourage social mobility.
Sexual health is an important part of physical and mental health as well as emotional and social wellbeing. This topic encompasses sexually transmitted infections, contraception, planning a pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy and abortion. In comparison to England, Norfolk has higher rates of chlamydia screening for those aged 15 to 24, worse rates of late diagnosis of HIV and a lower percentage of repeat abortions in the under 25s.
Drugs & alcohol
In 2018, among a wide survey of English pupils aged 11 to 15 years old 76% reported that they had never taken drugs. The survey also found that the likelihood of having taken drugs increased with age and the most prevalently used drug was Cannabis. The overall usage of drugs had remained the same since the last time the survey was taken two years ago. In England in 2018 the percentage of pupils who said they had never had an alcoholic drink was 56%, this is the same as 2016. It was found that a pupil was far more likely to drink if they lived with other people who drank or lived in an affluent household. However, drug or alcohol misuse can have a major impact on young people’s education, their health, their families and their long-term chances in life.
Special educational need & disabilities
The Government’s vision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is the same as for all children and young people – that they achieve well in their early years, at school and in college and make a good transition to adulthood, to lead contented and fulfilled lives. In 2014 the Children and Families act required local authorities to set out a clear ‘local offer’ of services across education, health and social care and for these services to be jointly commissioned. The act also introduced Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans for children with disabilities, with the option of a Personal Budget for families and young people who want one. In 2019 13% of pupils in Norfolk schools had SEN support and 3.2% had an EHC plan. This compares to England with 12% and 3.3% respectively.
For most young carers, caring is perceived to be a very rewarding role and is accompanied by a range of positive emotional and psychological benefits regardless of age or length of time caring. But unfortunately, it also causes several issues such as an increase in anxiety, stress and tiredness. It also has an impact on the child’s social development and education. A survey in 2018, carried out by Nottingham University and the BBC news suggests that there could be around 800,000 pupils in England between the ages of 11 to 16 “carrying out some level of care”.
Criminal justice system
In 2018/19 the number of children aged between 10-17 cautioned or sentenced in Norfolk was 303, this is down from 2013/14 where the number was 830 cautioned or sentenced in Norfolk. For 10-17 year olds This equates to 4.0 10-17 year olds cautioned or sentenced per 1000 children in that age group in the year 2018/19. This is higher than England’s rate at 3.5 per 1000.[23,24] The most common type of offence is violence followed by criminal damage and public order. Most youth crimes are committed by boys.
Domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 years or over, who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse and also includes honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Crime & sexual exploitation
Children and young people are vulnerable to being victims of crime – in 2019/20 in the East of England 6.5% of 10-15 year olds were the victims of crime, the majority of this being theft and violence. This is in line with England which has a rate of 6.6% for the same demographic and time period. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. Children in exploitative relationships receive such as gifts, money or affection as a result of performing sexual activities. They may be tricked into believing they’re in a loving, consensual relationship, they may be groomed through parties, being given drugs and alcohol, or groomed online. The Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board has created a multi-agency CSE sub-group to develop the response in Norfolk. A 2016 crime survey showed that 7.7% of adults aged 16 to 59 in the East of England had experienced sexual abuse during childhood compared to 6.6% in England.
Norfolk is committed to promoting the welfare of all children, keeping them safe from harm and supporting them to thrive and fulfil their potential. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and for services to be effective each professional and organisation must play their full part. Norfolk Safeguarding Children’s Board is a multi-agency group which ensure that arrangements for safeguarding children are co-ordinated and that these arrangements are monitored to evidence impact and effectiveness. Norfolk has a similar rate of children who are looked after in care (fostered, children’s homes or placed for adoption) to England. In 2020 this was 64 per 10,000 in Norfolk compared to England at 67 per 10,000. In 2020 there were 1106 children in care in Norfolk, with 56% of them being male, 74% in foster care and 41% between the ages of 10-14 years old.