State of Children in Suffolk

What is it?  

The State of Children in Suffolk report aims to provide an overview of the children and young people in Suffolk. The report includes data and information on the following topics: 

  • Population and families
  • Education, skills and training
  • Children and young people who may need extra support
  • The impact of COVID-19
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Feeling safe
  • Community

How recent is the data?  

We are publishing the reports in sections during the first few months of 2022.  The data included comes from a range of sources, and is the latest data available at the time of publication.  All sections of the report are due to be published by the end of March 2022. 

Published reports

The sections below summarise the key points from each topic within the report: 

My Health our Future

My Health, Our Future (MHoF) is Healthwatch Suffolk's programme of work exploring more than 38,000 responses from children and young people about their mental health and emotional wellbeing in Suffolk.

More than 4,500 students responded to the latest ‘My Health, Our Future’  survey in 2021. One of the key findings from the 2021 survey included: 

Young people are now less resilient and more likely to have poorer wellbeing compared to 2019, revealing the negative impact of the pandemic on their mental health.


Find out more about the report by visiting the dedicated pages on the Healthwatch Suffolk  website.


1.   In 2020, 761,246 people were estimated to be living in Suffolk.  Of this total, 202,688 (26.6%) were children and young people aged 0-24 years of age, which is lower than the England average of 29.7%.

2.   Over the past decade, the number of children and young people aged 0-24 in Suffolk has fallen by nearly 5,400, a fall of 2.6% compared with a 3.0% increase nationally.  A similar fall is projected to happen over the next 20 years within Suffolk, compared with a slight increase of 0.1% nationally.

3.   Just under 20% of local primary school pupils were from a minority ethnic group, compared with around 16% of secondary school pupils.  These proportions have increased over the past five years.

4.   There were 6,811 live births in Suffolk in 2020, a fall of 5.9% from 2019.  The number of live births to local mothers aged under 25 years continues to fall, and has fallen from nearly 1,700 in 2015 to around 1,250 in 2020.

5.   Nearly 26,000 children and young people in Suffolk live in areas classified as being among the 20% most deprived in England, which is 12.7% of the population of 0-24 year olds.

6.   The proportion of children aged under 16 living in poverty has increased in Suffolk from 13.0% in 2014/15 to 16.5% in 2019/20.  This means that approximately 22,750 local children under 16 are living in poverty.

7.   There were around 18,500 lone parent households with dependent children in Suffolk in 2020, which is approximately 7.5% of all local households.

View the full population and families report

1.            There are nearly 102,000 pupils in state-funded primary and secondary schools in Suffolk in 2020/21.  In addition, there are 1,300 pupils under special school provision, and approximately 170 in pupil referral units.

2.            In 2018/19, 70.7% of pupils in Suffolk achieved a good level of development by the end of Reception Year (first year of primary school), which is significantly lower (statistically) than the national average of 71.8%.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more recent data may not be comparable.

3.            At the end of Key Stage 2 (last year of primary school), 62% of pupils in Suffolk met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths in 2018/19, which is significantly lower (statistically) than the national average of 65%.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more recent data may not be comparable.

4.            In 2018/19, 39% of pupils in Suffolk achieved a good pass in English and maths in their GCSEs, whilst 61.9% achieved a standard pass.  Both of these are significantly lower (statistically) than the England averages of 43.4% for a good pass and 64.9% for a standard pass.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more recent data may not be comparable.

5.            76.5% of students in Suffolk achieved at least 2 A-levels in 2018/19 compared with 80% nationally; 8.7% achieved 3 A*-A grades or better (10.8% in England); 16% achieved AAB grades or better (18.4% in England).  81% of students in Suffolk achieved at least 2 substantial Level 3 qualifications (84.7% nationally).  All four measures are significantly lower (statistically) in Suffolk compared with England.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more recent data may not be comparable.

6.            In 2020/21, 4% of 16-18 year olds in Suffolk were not in education, employment or training (NEET).  Locally, this means there were 886 children and young people that were NEET in 2020/21.

7.            Almost 1 in 4 people in Suffolk (24.8%) had an undergraduate degree or higher compared with 1 in 3 (33.1%) nationally in 2019.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more recent data may not be comparable.

8.            In 2020/21, around 2 in 3 16-24 year olds (67.6%) were economically active in Suffolk (59.8% in England), whilst 1 in 3 (32.4%) were economically inactive (40.2% in England).  Just over half (53.7%) of 16-24 year olds were in employment in Suffolk in 2020/21, slightly higher than the England average of 51%.

9.            Across Suffolk, the greatest levels of deprivation on the Children and Young People sub-domain are around Mildenhall, Newmarket, Haverhill, Glemsford, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds, Stanton, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Felixstowe, Leiston, Reydon, Bungay, and Lowestoft.  Additional hotspots of deprivation on the Adult Skills sub-domain include areas around Hundon, which is close to Haverhill.

10.          In 2017, Ipswich, Forest Heath (West Suffolk), Babergh, and Waveney (East Suffolk) were ranked in the worst 20% of local authorities for social mobility, which indicates that people from disadvantaged backgrounds in these areas were least likely to make social progress.  This data has not been updated since 2017.

View the full education, skills and training report.

  1. Suffolk has a statistically significantly lower proportion of babies who have a first feed of breast milk than England, and a statistically significantly higher rate of hospital admissions for babies aged under 14 days (this is often linked to problems with feeding). However, breastfeeding prevalence at 6-8 weeks is statistically significantly higher (better) than England.
     
  2. Childhood immunisation data indicates Suffolk achieves the lower threshold of 90% coverage for all key immunisations for children aged five and under. Population vaccination coverage is significantly higher (better) than England for all childhood vaccines and immunisations. However, more needs to be done to meet the World Health Organisation target of 95% coverage which provides protection to wider society and can lead to disease elimination.
     
  3. Asthma is the most common long term condition among children and young people, with around 12,400 children aged 0-15 in Suffolk estimated to have the condition in 2020. Emergency hospital admissions for asthma in children aged 0-9 are statistically significantly higher (worse) than England.
     
  4. Emergency hospital admissions for diabetes in children and young people (under 19) for Suffolk are significantly higher (worse) than England.
     
  5. Despite performing better than England, more than one in five (21.6%) Reception Year children and nearly one in three (31.7%) Year 6 students in Suffolk are above the recommended healthy weight (overweight or obese).
     
  6. Childhood obesity rates are around twice as high in the most deprived areas of Suffolk compared to the least deprived areas (Reception Year, children aged 4-5 and Year 6, children aged 10-11).
     
  7. NHS dental services and hospital admissions have been affected by the pandemic, so the prevalence of tooth decay is probably underestimated in children in Suffolk. Unmet or unidentified demand would show as increased (worsening) prevalence of tooth decay (dental caries) in the data in future years.
     
  8. Whilst A&E attendances for children and young people under one and 0-4 are statistically significantly lower (better) compared to England, emergency hospital admissions for babies under one year and children aged 0-4 years are significantly higher, as are rates of admission for unintentional and deliberate injures in 0-4 and 0-14 year olds.

View the full physical health report