How we develop 2022
(How we develop)
- Within Suffolk (2020/21) there are nearly 102,000 pupils in state-funded primary and secondary schools. In addition, there are 1,300 pupils under special school provision and approximately 170 in pupil referral units. (Schools)
- Despite year on year improvement, Suffolk pupils achieving the expected standards in reading, writing and mathematics (RWM) at the end of Key Stage 2 are statistically significantly worse than the national average, with 62% of Suffolk pupils reaching the expected standard in RWM in comparison to 65% of pupils nationally in 2019 (this is the latest available data). (Attainment at end of Key Stage 2)
- In March 2021, 92.3% of 16-17 year olds in Suffolk were in education or training, which is lower than the England average of 93.2%. Data covering the period from December 2020 to February 2021 indicates that 3.7% of Suffolk 16-17 year olds were NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) in comparison to 2.8% in England. (Young people not in education, employment or training)
- In 2020, more than 1 in 4 people (25.6%) in Suffolk hold an undergraduate degree, whereas in England this figure is 1 in 3 (35.8%). (Highest qualification held)
- It is important to recognise the impact of COVID-19 on children and young peoples’ development in Suffolk. Whilst within this topic paper the influence of COVID-19 is noted only where performance figures may be affected or recent data releases have been cancelled, the State of Children in Suffolk report will consider this impact in greater detail and is due for publication in 2022.
Development is an ongoing process throughout life. The human brain develops throughout pregnancy and by age 3 the brain has reached 80% of its adult size, laying the fundamental foundations of a child’s cognitive, emotional, and physical development. The quality of relationships and experiences during these critical early years establishes either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all the learning, health and behaviour that follows.
Development can take many forms including academic education, work experience, learning through play, and social interactions. This section focuses primarily on education. It goes on to consider issues that may negatively impact development, such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and spending time not in education, employment, or training (NEET), as well as limited opportunities for social mobility.
Education has a positive impact on both general health and wider health behaviours such as smoking and drinking alcohol. Although the exact relationship between health and education is complex, research has shown that a good education provides a strong foundation for the opportunity to develop life-long healthy habits. For example, a 30 year old with less than an upper secondary education will on average live 5.2 years fewer than a peer with a university degree or equivalent.
The link between education and health is also a two-way process, (Figure 1), with health and wellbeing impacting on educational attainment in a variety of different ways. Long term health conditions can impact upon school attainment, and emotional wellbeing has a significant role to play in children’s engagement as they enter school.
Figure 1: The two-way link between education and health
The impact of disadvantage during childhood is felt early in life, with educational shortfalls emerging pre-school and widening during school-age years. High attendance at school is consistently identified as a key determinant in a child’s academic success at both primary and secondary school. The significance of early years on future outcomes is evidenced by the fact that 32% of the variation in GCSE performance can be predicted by indicators witnessed at age 5. Additionally, as the Local Government Association (LGA) highlights, ‘94% of children who achieve a good level of development at age five go on to achieve expected levels for reading at age seven – the end of Key Stage 1’. The impact continues throughout education, with 55% of children nationally who are at the bottom of attainment measures at age seven remaining there when they take their GCSEs in Key Stage 4.
Evidence from a report published in 2015 by the Department for Education suggests that this is also significant in the longer term, with students who achieve 5 A*-C grades at GCSE earning on average £80,000 more over their lifetime. Participation in education and training is therefore identified as the key mechanism for overcoming the perpetuating cycle of disadvantage and poverty from generation to generation.
Additionally, research has suggested that school experiences influence the likelihood of an individual becoming NEET ; those classed as NEET typically have lower levels of academic attainment and exam results. Alongside educational factors, studies indicate that the triggers for young people to be classified as NEET are complex and include:
- low socio-economic status
- bullying at school
- exclusion and absenteeism
- low attainment
- special educational needs
- disabilities or poor mental health
- low level or lack of parental support
- being in care
- being a young carer
- involvement in crime or deviant behaviour
- teenage pregnancy.
The consequences of an individual becoming NEET overlap with the factors that make being NEET more likely; those who are NEET are over-represented in substance misuse, criminal and anti-social behaviour statistics and also have a heightened risk of later-life homelessness.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) encompass harmful behaviours often experienced by children that can lead to poor health and social outcomes in adulthood. ACEs appear to be linked to important outcomes in areas such as health and social care, criminal justice, and policing. In addition, studies are also beginning to identify associations between multiple ACEs and harms to life prospects, such as education, employment and poverty, although further research is required.
Within Suffolk (2020/21) there are nearly 102,000 pupils in state-funded primary and secondary schools. In addition, there are 1,300 pupils under special school provision and approximately 170 in pupil referral units.
In January 2021 there were 326 schools across Suffolk:
• 254 primary schools (78%)
• 48 secondary schools (15%)
• 13 Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) (4%)
• 11 special schools (3%)
Further education for young people aged 16 years and over was available at five Further Education colleges, four of the five local authority maintained secondary schools, and one dedicated sixth form academy (Suffolk One in Ipswich).
In recent years, the number of schools with academy status has risen. Excluding special schools and PRUs, 41% (103 schools) of primary schools are voluntary-aided or local authority maintained and 59% (151 schools) have academy status. Of these academies, two are free schools. Excluding special schools and PRUs, four (8%) secondary schools are voluntary-aided or local authority maintained and 44 (92%) have academy status. Of these academies, six are free schools.
As of January 2021, 81% of Suffolk schools were judged as either good or outstanding by Ofsted, which is 5% less than the figure for England (86%).
Some pupil groups may require additional support with their learning, such as children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). In the academic year 2020-2021 there were 12,670 pupils (11.4%) receiving special educational needs (SEND) support in schools across Suffolk. There were also 3,989 pupils (3.6%) across all schools (including those aged over 19 years of age) with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan/Statement of SEND in Suffolk in the 2020-2021 academic year; this percentage is similar to regional and national figures in the same year (3.5% and 3.7% respectively). In Suffolk, the East of England region, and England the percentage of pupils with an EHC plan has increased each year since the 2016/17 academic year.
As of 2021, Suffolk has a relatively low level of pupils (10.2% in primary and 7.5% in secondary) who speak English as an additional language (EAL). The level of EAL in Suffolk is less than half that found in England: 20.9% in primary and 17.2% in secondary schools. In 2017 the Department for Education (DfE) highlighted that there are variations in the number of pupils with EAL in districts/boroughs of Suffolk, with a particularly high proportion in Ipswich.
The pupil premium grant (PPG) is a payment made to schools and local authorities with the intention of raising attainment among disadvantaged pupils and supporting children and young people with parents in the regular armed forces.
One group of children supported by PPG are those who are, or have been, registered for free school meals (FSM) at any point in the previous six years. The number of eligible children for FSM in Suffolk has steadily increased since June 2019. Over 21,000 children in Suffolk were eligible for FSM at the end of the 2020/21 school year, a 31% increase since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 (Public Health Analysis).
PPG is also paid to support previously looked after pupils who have left local authority care through adoption, and pupils who are the children of military personnel. In the 2021/22 financial year 24,423 Suffolk pupils were eligible for the Pupil Premium. This includes more than 1 in 5 (21%) primary school children and almost 1 in 4 (24%) secondary school children, both of which are lower than the England averages (23.2% and 27.2% respectively).
Children are considered ready for school if, by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), they have achieved a good level of development. Children are defined as having reached a ‘good level of development’ if they achieve at least the expected standard in personal, social and emotional development, physical development, communication and language, mathematics and literacy early learning goals.
Recent data releases have been cancelled due to Coronavirus. The State of Children in Suffolk report (2022) considers the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people in Suffolk in greater detail; within this topic paper the impact of COVID-19 is noted only where performance figures may be affected by the impact of the pandemic in order to provide context and meaningful interpretation.
In 2018/19 70.7% of children in Suffolk, and 71.8% of children in England, were considered school ready at the end of reception year. As table 1 demonstrates, the proportion of pupils considered school ready at the end of reception year in Suffolk is therefore statistically significantly worse compared to England. A gender gap in school readiness is notable both nationally and in Suffolk, with girls consistently performing better than boys. In Suffolk, from 2018 to 2019, around 3 in 5 (62.7%) boys were considered school ready compared to almost 4 in 5 (79.2%) girls. This trend can be consistently observed in both Suffolk and England since 2012/2013.
Table 1: Proportion of pupils achieving a good level of development by the end of reception year by year, Suffolk, England, 2012/13 to 2018/19
|Year||Suffolk||Comparison to England||England|
|2012/13||49.0%||Worse than England||51.7%|
|2013/14||58.9%||Worse than England||60.4%|
|2014/15||67.6%||Better than England||66.3%|
|2015/16||70.2%||Similar to England||69.3%|
|2016/17||71.1%||Similar to England||70.7%|
|2017/18||71.5%||Similar to England||71.5%|
|2018/19||70.7%||Worse than England||71.8%|
Sources: Public Health England. Child and Maternal Health Profile. Child & Maternal Health Profile (accessed 2021). Dept of Education. Early years foundation stage profile results: 2018 to 2019 - GOV.UK. National Statistics (2019).
The gap in school readiness between groups who may require additional support and those with lower need is pronounced. Among children with SEND support, one in four (22%) achieved the expected standard in 2018-19 compared to three in four (74%) children with no identified SEND. This difference of 52 percentage points compares to 49 nationally, suggesting that while there is a school readiness gap across the country, it is greater in Suffolk than nationally.
Among pupils whose first language is other than English, 53% achieved the expected standard compared to 72% of children whose first language was English. The difference of 19 percentage points compares to 8 nationally. Whilst the Suffolk figure for pupils with English as a first language is similar to the national average, the figure for pupils whose first language is not English is statistically significantly lower than the England average (64%).
In 2018-19, 53% of disadvantaged children achieved the expected level of development compared to 71% of less disadvantaged children. This difference of 18 percentage points is the same as nationally. However the figures for Suffolk in each of these groups are not statistically significantly different to the national averages.
Progress measures aim to capture the progress that pupils make from the end of Key Stage 1 (KS1) to the end of primary school. They are a type of value-added measure, comparing the results of pupils within a local authority to those nationally. Measures are used as a school-level accountability measure, with progress for individual pupils used to calculate the school’s overall progress scores. A score below zero indicates worse progress than England and higher than zero indicates better progress.
Progress scores for pupils from the end of KS1 (age 7) to the end of Key Stage 2 (KS2) (age 11) in Suffolk remain below the average for England. In 2019, progress scores were -0.7 for reading, -0.6 writing and -0.9 for maths. In comparison to 151 local authorities in England, with 1st place indicating the greatest amount of progress, Suffolk was ranked 133rd in reading, 125th in writing and 140th in mathematics.
Key Stage 2 covers the four years of schooling when pupils are aged 7-11 years. Pupils take national curriculum assessments in year 6 at the end of KS2, when most pupils will have reached age 11 by the end of the school year. Pupils take tests (commonly referred to as SATs) in reading, maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling, and receive a teacher assessment in reading, writing, maths and science.
Results in Suffolk for pupils achieving expected standards in reading, writing and mathematics (RWM) continue to remain statistically significantly worse than the national average (Figure 2). Nevertheless, year on year improvement has been seen for Suffolk in RWM. In 2019 62% of Suffolk pupils reached the expected standard in RWM in comparison to 65% of pupils nationally.
Figure 2: Key Stage 2 attainment outcomes in reading, writing and maths, state funded schools only, Suffolk, England, 2019
Local data for 2019 shows the difference between local authority maintained schools and academies in relation to the combined reading, writing and maths measure (Children and Young People’s Services analysis). The percentage of Key Stage 2 pupils in Suffolk working at or above expected levels for this measure by school type are shown below:
- 65% LA maintained schools
- 57% Academy (sponsored)
- 63% Academy (converted)
Converter academies are schools that are performing well and have chosen to convert to academy status. Sponsored academies are schools that have transformed to an academy and run by approved sponsors as part of an improvement strategy. All academies and free schools are state-funded schools.
Progress 8 gives a measure of how well a student has progressed between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 across eight key subjects. It shows whether students have performed to expectation, based on a measure using Key Stage 2 English and maths as a baseline.
The greater the Progress 8 score, the greater the progress made by the pupil compared to the average of pupils with similar prior attainment. A school’s Progress 8 score is calculated as the average of its pupils’ Progress 8 scores. It gives an indication of whether, as a group, pupils in the school made above or below average progress compared to similar pupils in other schools. A score above/below zero means pupils made more/less progress, on average, than pupils across England who got similar results at the end of Key Stage 2.
In 2019, the average Progress 8 score in Suffolk was -0.02, which indicates that pupils in Suffolk are making more progress than similar pupils across England (national figure is -0.03). In comparison to 151 local authorities in England, with 1st place indicating the greatest amount of progress, Suffolk ranks 67th out of 151 local authorities. As indicated by the Department for Education’s Local authority interactive tool (LAIT), in 2019 Suffolk’s statistical neighbours scored between -0.15 (Somerset) and 0.06 (Worcestershire). In 2018, Suffolk’s progress figure was 0.08 and the county has been in the top 50% of all LAs since the new progress measures were introduced in 2016 (CYP analysis).
Key Stage 4 covers the two years of school education which incorporate GCSEs in England, when pupils are aged 14-16.
Before 2016 the national measure for attainment was the percentage of pupils achieving at least 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics. From 2016 numerical grades replaced letter grades for most GCSEs and the national attainment measures are the percentage of pupils achieving a grade 5+ in English and mathematics, known as a ‘good pass’. Other attainment measures include the percentage of pupils achieving grade 4+ in English and mathematics, known as a ‘standard pass’, and a summary measure of attainment across a range of subjects known as Attainment 8.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, summer GCSE exams for the 2020/21 academic year were cancelled. Instead, pupils were only assessed on the content they had been taught for each course. GCSE grades were determined by teachers based on the range of evidence available (referred to as teacher-assessed grades, or TAGs). This was also a different process to that used in the 2019/20 academic year when summer exams were also cancelled due to the pandemic.
Consequently, the changes to the way GCSE grades have been awarded over the last two years mean that the 2020/21 pupil attainment data shown below should not be directly compared to pupil attainment data from previous years for the purposes of measuring year on year changes in pupil performance.
Key Stage 4 attainment measures for Suffolk state-funded schools in 2020/21 shown in Table 2, are statistically significantly lower than the national averages.
Table 2: Attainment measures for Key Stage 4 attainment, Suffolk, England, 2020/21
|Average Attainment 8 score of all pupils||44.9||46.8|
|Percentage of pupils achieving grades 4 or above in English and Mathematics GCSEs||61.9%||64.9%|
|Percentage of pupils achieving grades 5 or above in English and Mathematics GCSEs||39.0%||43.4%|
As with Key Stage 2, local data for 2019 shows the difference between local authority maintained schools and academies in Key Stage 4 achievement (Children and Young People’s Services analysis). The percentage of Key Stage 4 pupils in Suffolk achieving grades 4 or above at GCSE in English and Maths by type of school are as shown below:Source: Department for Education. National Statistics, Key Stage 4 performance 2020/21 (2021)
- 66% LA maintained schools
- 50% Academy (sponsored)
- 67% Academy (converted)
- 56% Free Schools
Key Stage 5 describes the two years of education for students aged 16-18, which is also referred to as sixth form. Key Stage 5 is the last stage of secondary education, after which students may apply for university. Up to the age of 18, young people in England must either stay in full-time education, start an apprenticeship or traineeship, or spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training.
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
In March 2021, 92.3% of 16 to 17 year olds in Suffolk were in education or training, which is lower than the England average of 93.2%. Among 16-17 year olds in Suffolk, 84.1% were in full time education or training, 5.6% were on an apprenticeship and 2.5% were in other education or training.
The average points score is a measure of attainment per qualification, with points assigned on a 0-60 scale for A-levels (with an A* worth 60) and a 0-50 scale for technical qualifications (a Distinction grade is worth 50).
Prior to COVID 19, there had been an increase nationally in the average point score (APS) among Key Stage 5 students studying A-levels, from 31.8 to 33.1 points between 2016 and 2018. This trend however was not seen in Suffolk: the average score decreased from 30.4 to 29.9 points over the same time period. When considering more recent data, it is important to recognise the impact of COVID 19 on this measure of attainment. Pupil level attainment statistics have increased more than would be expected in a typical year reflecting the differences in how grades were awarded during the pandemic. The data recorded is therefore ‘provisional’ in nature. For the 2020 A Level Cohort, the APS per entry was 36.8 in Suffolk in comparison to 39.5 in England.
More details about average point scores can be found on the Suffolk Observatory.
Data covering the period from January 2020 to December 2020 demonstrates that within Suffolk the highest qualifications held by residents are:
- An undergraduate degree or equivalent (25.6%)
- Higher education qualification below degree level (9.1%)
- A-Levels (25.6%)
- GCSEs (25.4%)
- Other qualifications (8%)
- No qualifications (6.2%)
Fewer Suffolk residents (25.6%) hold the highest levels of qualifications compared to East of England (31.8%) or England (35.8%) (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Qualifications held by working age adults in Suffolk (16 - 64 years), Suffolk, East of England, England. 12 months to Dec 2020
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are harmful behaviours or events experienced by children that can lead to health-damaging behaviours as well as poor health and social outcomes in adulthood (Figure 4). It is generally agreed that as the number of ACEs experienced by a child increases, so does the risk of poor outcomes, although the strength of association between ACEs and specific outcomes varies.
Figure 4: Examples of Adverse Childhood Experiences
Several studies about ACEs have attempted to estimate the number of children and young people living through specific adverse experiences. By considering the prevalence estimates from these studies it is possible to estimate the number of children and young people in Suffolk likely to be experiencing them. Table 3 applies the lowest and highest prevalence estimates of children and young people experiencing a particular ACE to Suffolk’s 0-18 year-old population, giving an estimated range that may be living with or through that experience in the county.
Table 3: Estimated number of children in Suffolk experiencing specific ACEs, mid-2020
|Specific Adverse Childhood Experience||Estimated range||Lowest||Highest|
|Parental separation or divorce||18%-25%||28,880||40,110|
|Emotional, psychological or verbal abuse||17%-23%||27,280||36,910|
|Childhood physical abuse||14%-17%||22,460||27,280|
|Exposure to domestic violence||12%-17%||19,260||27,280|
|Household mental illness||11%-18%||17,650||28,880|
|Household alcohol abuse||9%-14%||14,440||22,460|
|Household drug abuse||4%-6%||6,420||9,630|
|Childhood sexual abuse||3%-10%||4,810||16,050|
|Household member incarcerated||3%-5%||4,810||8,020|
Source: Public Health Wales. Adverse Childhood Experiences and their impact on health-harming behaviours in the Welsh adult population. (2015). Office for National Statistics. Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: mid-2020. (2021).
‘Outcomes showing the strongest relations with multiple ACEs (violence, mental illness and problematic substance abuse) can represent ACEs for the next generation (exposure to parental domestic violence, mental illness and substance use) and thus are indicative of the intergenerational effects that can lock families into cycles of adversity, deprivation, and ill health’.
ACEs appear to be linked to important outcomes in areas such as health and social care, criminal justice, and policing. Children who experience stressful childhoods are more likely to adopt health-harming behaviours during their adolescence, which can lead to mental ill health and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes later in life. Studies are also beginning to find links between multiple ACEs and harm to life prospects, such as education, employment and poverty, although further research is required. Research has shown that ACEs are an indicator that young people may become involved in gangs and county lines (drug dealing): with family violence and abuse identified as specific risk factors.
Despite these links between ACEs and negative outcomes, not everyone exposed to ACEs will go on to experience negative consequences. Protective factors against ACEs include: having supportive parents who read and talk to their children; having healthy relationships with parents, family members and friends; learning good communication skills.
Young people aged 16-17 who are not in education, employment or training are classified as NEET. Because of fluctuations in NEET status throughout the year, particularly in autumn when students enrol onto educational/training courses, the proportion of NEETs is defined as a 3-month average across December, January and February in each year.
Data covering the period from December 2020 to February 2021 indicates that 3.7% of 16-17 year olds in Suffolk were known to be NEET compared to 2.8% nationally. A further 1.3% of 16-17 year olds in Suffolk and 2.7% in England had an unknown activity status.
Combining these groups together gives a total proportion of 16-17 year old NEET/ not known in Suffolk of 5% compared to 5.5% in England. When considering this at a Suffolk level, as of 2021 the highest proportion of 16-17 year olds classed as NEET (not including those whose status is unknown) are found in Ipswich .
Social mobility is important for children and young people in Suffolk. The section below provides information on the Social Mobility Index; however, it has not been possible to update the data since the previous version of this paper was published. As new data becomes available this section will be updated to reflect this.
The Social Mobility Index assesses the relative chances of a disadvantaged young person performing well in school and getting a good job, compared to other areas in England. The aim of the index is to look at the impact of where a disadvantaged young person grows up on their chances of doing well as an adult. A combination of lower educational attainment, lower skill levels and low job density all contribute to low social mobility in some areas of Suffolk.
In 2017, Babergh, Forest Heath, Ipswich and Waveney were all ranked in the worst 20% of local authorities for social mobility, which indicates that people from disadvantaged backgrounds in these areas are least likely to make social progress (Table 4). Waveney performs particularly poorly, ranked as the 11th worst Social Mobility Index score among local authorities in England (out of 324).
In addition to an overall Social Mobility Index ranking, individual rankings are given to life stages: early years, schools, youth and adulthood. The effect of geography on social mobility is most acute in the youth life stage. Rural isolation can have major consequences for youth social mobility, as it may limit access to further education, higher education and a range of inspirational and supportive activities from employers, universities and charities. Disadvantaged young people in remote rural and coastal areas are half as likely to enter university as those in England’s major cities.
Table 4: Social Mobility Index rankings by Suffolk district/borough, 2017 (1=best, 324=worst)]
|Local Authority||Overall||Early Years||Schools||Youth||Adulthood|
Note: “cold spots” - identified in bold above - are ranked in the worst 20% of local authorities for social mobility
The Children and Young People’s (CYP) Business Plan highlights key priorities for Suffolk and is in place until the end of 2021. The key programmes in place to deliver on SCC CYP’s priorities are:
- Implementing the SEND strategy
- Children and Young People's Alliance
- Be safe
- High cost demand: Children in care
- Raising the Bar
- Developing Suffolk talent
Figure 5: Suffolk County Council’s Priorities for Children and Young People
Many agencies and organisations have an impact on the way children and young people develop in Suffolk, and which extend beyond the remit of CYP services.
The Department of Education is responsible for children’s services and education, including early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England. They publish lots of guidance and information. The Local Authority interactive tool (LAIT) is useful for comparing data about children and young people across all local authorities in England.
Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Ofsted is responsible for inspecting and regulating services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. Inspection reports are published online.
The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) monitors progress towards improving social mobility in the UK and promotes social mobility in England. SMC is an advisory non-departmental public body and they publish social mobility index figures and reports.
The State of Children in Suffolk Education, Skills and Training Summary and Report provide further information on educational performance in Suffolk.