How we develop
(How we develop)
Within Suffolk there are over 100,000 pupils in state-funded primary and secondary schools. In addition, there are more than 1,200 pupils under special school provision and 200 in pupil referral units. (3.1 Schools)
Both locally and nationally, over 7 in 10 children achieved a good level of development at the end of reception year in 2017/18, with girls consistently performing better than boys. (3.3.1 School readiness)
In 2018, the average Progress 8 score indicated that pupils in Suffolk were making more progress than similar pupils across England, with Suffolk ranked 42nd out of 151 local authorities. (3.4.1 Progress between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4)
Young people aged 16-17 who are not in education, employment or training are sometimes referred to as being NEET. In late 2017, around 1 in 13 (7.4%) 16-17-year olds in Suffolk were classified as NEET, compared to 1 in 17 (6%) nationally. (3.8 Young people not in education, employment or training)
Almost 1 in 4 people in Suffolk hold an undergraduate degree, whereas in England this figure is nearly 1 in 3. (3.6 Highest qualification held)
Development is an ongoing process throughout life. The human brain develops throughout pregnancy and by the 1,000th day, or the baby’s second birthday, the brain has reached 80% of its adult size. The quality of relationships and experiences during this critical 1,000-day period establishes either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all the learning, health and behaviour that follow.
Development can take many forms including academic education, work experience, 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), and social mobility.
Education has a positive impact on both general health and wider health behaviours such as smoking and drinking alcohol.,  Education is consistently identified as the key mechanism that can overcome the perpetuating cycle of disadvantage and poverty from generation to generation. The negative impact of disadvantage during childhood is felt early in life, with educational shortfalls emerging before school and widening during school-age years.
The link between education and health is a two-way process (Figure 1). Health and wellbeing impacts 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 secondary school.
Based on pre-2016 measures of attainment, primary school pupils with no absence were around 1.5 times more likely to achieve the expected level (level 4 or above), and 4.5 times more likely to achieve above the expected level (level 5 or above), than pupils that missed 15 to 20% of key stage 2. Figures indicate that pupils absent from school for 14 days in Year 6 were 25% less likely to achieve level 5 or above in KS2 reading, writing & maths tests, compared to those with no absence.
Research indicates that the triggers for young people to be classified as not in education, employment or training (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 becoming NEET overlap with the factors that make being NEET more likely. For example, those who are NEET are over-represented in substance misuse, criminal and anti-social behaviour statistics; they also show a heightened risk of later-life homelessness.
Participation in education and training provides the opportunity to gain qualifications which make a difference to life chances. Young people with few or no qualifications are three-to-four times more likely to be NEET than those with higher-level qualifications, and, in the longer term, are more likely to hold less skilled jobs and earn a lower wage than their more highly skilled peers.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) encompass harmful behaviours 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.
Source: Center on Society and Health. Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes (2015).
Within Suffolk there are over 100,000 pupils in state-funded primary and secondary schools. In addition, there are more than 1,200 pupils under special school provision and two hundred at pupil referral units, across Suffolk.
In January 2019, there were 324 schools across Suffolk, of which 256 (79%) were primary schools, 45 (14%) were secondary schools, 13 (4%) were Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and 10 (3%) were special schools. Further education for 16-18-year olds was available at four 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, 46% (118 schools) of primary schools are voluntary-aided or local authority maintained and 54% (137 schools) have academy status. Of these academies, two are free schools. Excluding special schools and PRUs, five (12%) secondary schools are voluntary-aided or local authority maintained and 39 (88%) have academy status. Of these academies, five are free schools.
As of January 2019, 80% of Suffolk schools were judged as either good or outstanding by Ofsted, which is 5% below the figure for England (85%).
Some pupil groups may require additional support with their learning, such as children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). In 2018, there were 6,587 primary school pupils and 4,744 secondary school pupils with SEND.
Overall, Suffolk has a relatively low level of pupils (9.7% in primary and 6.8% in secondary) who speak English as an additional language (EAL). The level of EAL in Suffolk is around half that found in England: 21.2% in primary and 16.6% in secondary schools. There are variations in the number of pupils with EAL in districts/boroughs of Suffolk, with a particularly high concentration 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. In 2017/18, this included 1 in 5 (20.8%) primary school children and almost 1 in 4 (23.6%) secondary school children, which is lower than England (23.9% and 28.9%, respectively). PPG is also paid to support previously looked after pupils who have left authority care through adoption, and pupils who are the children of military personnel.
Children are considered ready for school if, by the end of primary school reception year, they achieve expected levels of learning in personal, social and emotional development, physical development, communication and language, mathematics and literacy.
In 2012/13, just below half (49.0%) of Suffolk pupils were considered school ready at the end of reception year, compared to 51.7% in England (Table 1).,  Since then the proportion of school ready children has increased both locally and nationally; in 2017/18 over 7 in 10 (71.5%) children were school ready in both Suffolk and England. The gender gap in school readiness is notable both nationally and in Suffolk, with girls consistently performing better than boys. In Suffolk, around 2 in 3 (64.9%) boys were considered school ready compared to nearer 4 in 5 (78.2%) girls (Table 1).
Table 1: Proportion of pupils achieving a good level of development by the end of reception year by gender and year, Suffolk, England, 2012/13 to 2017/18,
Note: Red/Amber/Green colour denotes whether difference is statistically significantly worse/comparable/better compared to England.
Sources: Public Health England. Child and Maternal Health Profile. Child & Maternal Health Profile (2018). Dept of Education. Early years foundation stage profile results: 2017 to 2018 - GOV.UK. National Statistics (2018).
The gap in school readiness between groups who may require additional support and those with lower need is pronounced. Among children with SEN support, one in four (24%) achieved the expected standard compared to three in four (75%) children with no identified SEN. This difference of 51 percentage points compares to 49 nationally. Among pupils whose first language is other than English, 59% achieved the expected standard compared to 72% of children whose first language was English. This difference of 13 percentage points compares to 8 nationally. In 2018, 56% of disadvantaged children achieved a good level of development by the end of primary school reception year compared to 72% of less disadvantaged children. This difference of 16 percentage points compares to 17 nationally.
Progress measures aim to capture the progress that pupils make from the end of key stage 1 to the end of primary school. 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 indicates better progress.
Progress scores for pupils from KS1 to KS2 in Suffolk remain below the average for England. In 2018, progress scores were -0.6 for reading, -0.5 writing and -1.0 for maths. Compared to 151 local authorities in England, Suffolk was ranked 126th in reading, 116th in writing and 138th in mathematics.
Key Stage 2 covers the four years of schooling in maintained schools 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 significantly below the national rate (Figure 2).,  Nevertheless, year on year improvement has been seen for Suffolk in RWM and the gap with national levels has narrowed. In recent years, Suffolk has more than halved the proportion of schools where less than 65% of pupils achieve the expected standards in RWM and progress is below the national measures set, which is known as the ‘floor standard’. Between 2012 and 2018 the proportion of Suffolk schools below the floor standard decreased from 14% to 4%. The equivalent national figure stood at 3% in 2018.
Source: Department of Education. Key stage 2 and multi-academy trust performance, 2018 (revised). (2019).
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 2018, the average Progress 8 score in Suffolk was +0.08, which indicates that pupils in Suffolk are making more progress than similar pupils across England. This ranks Suffolk 42nd out of 151 local authorities.
Key Stage 4 covers the two years of school education which incorporate GCSEs in maintained schools 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.
Key Stage 4 attainment scores in Suffolk remain below the England average for both the ‘good pass’ and Attainment 8 measures (Table 2). However, Suffolk is comparable to England for the ‘standard pass’ measure.
Source: Department of Education. Statistics: GCSEs (key stage 4). (2019).
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.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of 16/17 year olds in education or training, from around 90% to around 92% (regionally and nationally). However, this trend has not been seen in Suffolk, where the proportion has remained stable at around 90%.
In March 2018, 9 in 10 (89.5%) 16-17 year olds in Suffolk were in education or training, which is lower than the England average (92.0%). Among 16-17 year olds in Suffolk, 8 in 10 (79.3%) were in full-time education, 8.2% were on an apprenticeship and 2.0% 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). Nationally, there has been an increase in the average point score among Key Stage 5 students studying A-levels, from 31.8 to 33.1 points between 2016 and 2018. This trend has not been seen in Suffolk: the average score has decreased from 30.4 to 29.9 points over the same time period. In recent years, performance by Suffolk key stage 5 students studying technical (vocational) qualifications has been comparable to England (28.35 Suffolk, 28.33 England in 2018).
More details about average point scores can be found on the Suffolk Observatory. (www.suffolkobservatory.info/children-and-young-people/ )
Within Suffolk, the highest qualification held by residents is A-levels (25.8%), an undergraduate degree or higher (23.8%), and GCSEs (23.4%). The remaining quarter of people hold either a higher education qualification below degree level (8.6%), other qualifications (10.9%) or no qualifications (7.5%).
Fewer Suffolk residents (23.8%) hold the highest levels of qualifications compared to East of England (27.8%) or England (31.1%) (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Highest level of qualification held by working age adults (16-64 years), Suffolk, East of England, England, 2017
Source: Office for National Statistics. Annual Population Survey. NOMIS - Official Labour Market Statistics (2017).
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.
Source: Lugalia-Hollen, M. Everything Matters: The Power of Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). (2015).
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.
Source: Public Health Wales. Adverse Childhood Experiences and their impact on health-harming behaviours in the Welsh adult population. (2015). Office for National Statistics. Subnational population projections for England: 2016-based (report). (2018).
‘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 are 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.
There are a range of agencies in Suffolk that provide support for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
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 enroll onto educational/training courses, the proportion of NEETs is defined as a 3-month average of December, January and February. The following figures cover the period December 2017 to February 2018.
At the end of 2017, around 1 in 26 (3.9%) 16-17-year olds in Suffolk were NEET compared to 1 in 37 (2.7%) nationally. A further 1 in 29 (3.5%) 16-17-year olds in Suffolk and 1 in 30 (3.3%) England had an unknown activity status. Combining these groups together gives a total proportion of 16-17-year-old NEETs in Suffolk of 7.4% compared to 6.0% in England, which places Suffolk in the worst 20% of local authorities.
During academic year 12, the rate of NEETs and unknown in Suffolk (4.2%) was comparable to England (3.8%). However, during academic year 13 the rate of NEETs and unknown was significantly higher in Suffolk compared to England (10.3% v 8.1%, respectively). The higher than average dropout rate in year 13 contributes to the higher overall NEET and unknown rate in Suffolk. The highest proportion of 16-17-year old NEETs were found in the towns of Ipswich, Lowestoft and Haverhill.
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.
Note: “cold spots” are ranked in the worst 20% of local authorities for social mobility
Source: Social Mobility Commission. Social mobility index: 2017 data. (2017).
Raising the Bar is Suffolk’s programme to improve levels of educational attainment across the county. The Raising the Bar 2018-20 strategy sets out the key ambition is that every child, including those who are vulnerable or need extra help, has a good start in life and the best opportunities to thrive, develop and achieve. By working together with education providers, families, communities and businesses, Raising the Bar aims to: ensure that every child can achieve their full potential; build a strong reputation for Suffolk education; deliver wider benefits for the County and its economy. Achievements from the Raising the Bar 2015-2017 programme are summarised below (Figure 5).
The Families First Quality Award for Schools started as part of the Council’s Raising the Bar programme of school improvement and was developed at the request of Suffolk schools. It is now a national quality improvement tool, which includes quality standards for children’s centres and local authority Family Information Services. Families First helps schools demonstrate how they value parents/carers by engaging them in their children’s learning. It also focuses on partnership work and providing quality information, advice and assistance to families. So far, several Suffolk schools have achieved accreditation.
Suffolk's strategy for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is outlined in the SEND Strategy 2017-2020. The strategy addresses the issues that arose from an Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) joint inspection in December 2016 and the wider improvements that parents, carers and professionals have raised as being important to ensure better outcomes for children and young people.
Suffolk’s Apprenticeship Strategy aims to ensure all young people have access to high quality information about apprenticeship opportunities, know how to apply for vacancies and fully consider an apprenticeship as a suitable and high-quality option for post 16 learning.
Source: Suffolk County Council. Raising the Bar 2015-17 Achievements. (2018).
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: www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-authority-interactive-tool-lait
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: reports.ofsted.gov.uk/
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. www.gov.uk/government/organisations/social-mobility-commission
Raising the Bar is Suffolk’s programme to improve levels of educational attainment and ensure that every child in Suffolk can achieve their full potential: www.suffolk.gov.uk/children-families-and-learning/raising-the-bar
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