North Yorkshire’s young people opt for healthier lifestyles

18 June 2013

Woodfields SchoolAccording to a recent survey, children and young people in North Yorkshire are more positive about school and enjoy lessons more than they did two years ago; they are also less likely to have smoked cigarettes or cannabis or to have drunk alcohol.

These findings are part of a North Yorkshire County Council survey which the authority carries out in partnership with schools every two years.

The survey, which is wide ranging and takes in the views of 16,000 children and young people, covers topics such as attitudes towards learning, bullying, sexual health and sex education and online safety. It gives the local authority, the county’s schools and the Children’s Trust partnership – the public and voluntary sector organisations working together to meet the needs of children and families – a wealth of invaluable information to improve services for young people, particularly vulnerable groups

The survey is used to target resources to encourage young people to adopt healthier lifestyles. It has become a crucial tool since 2006 in the local authority’s strategic planning for the development of high quality children’s services across this large, sparsely populated rural county.

Findings from the latest 2012 survey show that schools, the local authority and its partners have made great strides over the last three years in reducing risky behaviours among teenagers; advising children and young people on how to stay safe online; tackling bullying; increasing the number of pupils living in care who intend to stay on in full time education; reducing alcohol consumption; increasing the number of children and young people who report they enjoy ‘most’ or ‘all’ of their lessons at school.

Compared to similar shire counties that have taken part in the survey, North Yorkshire has more children and young people who feel positive about school, more primary children that are physically active – they are more likely to have exercised five or more times a week, ride their bikes, play running games at playtime and enjoy physical activities – and more secondary school children who are less anxious and feel safe and are informed about sexual health services.


Key findings:

  • Year 6 and secondary school pupils are more likely to report that they enjoy “all” or “most” of their lessons in school in 2012 than in 2010
  • A greater proportion of year 6 pupils had a high self-esteem school in 2012 than in 2010
  • Year 6 and secondary school pupils are less likely to report having had an alcoholic drink in the last week in 2012 compared to 2010
  • Fewer year 10 pupils responded they had taken risks with sex (infection or pregnancy) after drinking alcohol or drug use
  • Secondary pupils more likely to report that their school deals with bullying “quite” or “very” well in 2012 than in 2010
  • Secondary pupils more likely to rate their safety at school as “good” or “very good” in 2012 than in 2010
  • Percentages of female year 10 pupils who had ever tried smoking declining steadily from 54 per cent in 2006 to 41 per cent in 2012


But the survey also reveals that there is still more work to do in raising self-esteem, recognising the broad range of young people’s achievements and reducing areas of risk taking, particularly in relation to the use of modern technologies. The outcomes from the survey informing these areas for development are not significantly different to those of other large shire counties participating in this survey.

County Councillor Arthur Barker, Executive Member for Schools said:

North Yorkshire gives the highest priority to children and young people’s health and well-being in order to help them achieve their best in educational attainment and to give them the best foundation for their future lives.

We believe our children and young people deserve the very highest standards of educational provision and the information gathered in this survey is a crucial tool in ensuring that we, along with our partners, continue to improve services in order to achieve those standards.

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