Somerset Children and Young People Survey
In conjunction with teachers across the county, the Somerset Children and Young People Survey (SCYPS) was commissioned from the Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) by the Somerset Health and Wellbeing in Learning Programme as a way of collecting robust information about young people’s lifestyles.
The first was carried out in 2014, and the second in 2016. The results were collected from a sample of primary pupils aged 8 to 11, secondary pupils aged 12 to 15 and FE students aged 16+ in the spring and summer terms.
Teachers were informed on how to collect the most reliable data and then pupils completed a version of the questionnaire appropriate for their age group.
- Year 4 (Y4) and Year 6 (Y6) pupils (aged 8 to 11) completed the primary version of the questionnaire.
- Pupils in Years 8 and 10 (Y8 and Y10, aged 12-15) completed the secondary version of the questionnaire and
- Students in sixth forms and FE colleges were offered the FE version.
All surveys were undertaken anonymously. A total of 8635 pupils and students took part in 57 infant and primary and 26 secondary schools and FE settings in Somerset. Each survey was wide-ranging, covering themes appropriate to each group.
Detailed results are available, including appropriate comparisons with SHEU's reference sample of other survey areas in England, from the summary report below.
Key findings for Somerset
Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco:
- About 3 in 10 Y10 pupils have ever smoked cigarettes, the same proportion as those who had tried an e-cigarette.
- 1 in 5 secondary pupils (Y8 or Y10) had tried an e-cigarette, almost double the 2014 figure.
- Amongst Y10s, the group most likely to use e-cigarettes regularly are those who want to give up smoking cigarettes.
- Children of any age or sex who have a parent or carer who smokes at home are much more likely to have tried smoking.
- Primary and secondary pupils report lower levels of exposure to smoking in 2016 compared with 2014.
- 16% of secondary pupils responded that they had an alcoholic drink, and 4% had been drunk, in the previous week.
- 13% of Y6+ primary schoolchildren and 35% of secondary school pupils said they knew someone who used drugs (not medicines).
- 30% of FE students said they had taken cannabis and 8% had taken Novel Psychoactive Substances.
- Past or present smokers were six times more likely than those who'd never smoked to have tried drugs.
- The proportion eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables on the previous day decreases in age from 1 in 3 Y6 pupils to 1 in 5 Y10s.
- 1 in 3 Y10 girls reported having nothing to eat or drink for breakfast that day.
- The proportion of girls who want to lose weight rises from 34% at Year 6 to 66% of FE/6th form students.
- Primary pupils in 2016 were more likely to say they had drunk at least a litre of water the day before compared with 2014 (33% vs. 27%).
- Only 28% of Y10 girls did physical activity on at least 5 days in the week before the survey.
- Unsurprisingly, frequent physical activity is associated with enjoyment of physical activities. 79% of Y8 boys enjoyed them whereas for Y10 girls, the proportion is only 54%.
- Lack of time was given as the main barrier to exercise (31% of secondary school pupils)
- The proportion of secondary pupils saying they had exercised for an hour or more that made them feel out of breath or sweaty on at least five days in the last seven rose from 9% in 2014 to 14% in 2016.
Emotional health and wellbeing:
- Levels of high self-esteem rise with age amongst boys but fall slightly amongst girls
- Fewer Y6 and secondary pupils in Somerset recorded levels of high self-esteem compared with the wider sample
- If pupils worry at least ‘quite a lot’ about at least one topic, they are somewhat less likely to say that they are satisfied with life generally.
- Year 8 students in schools who received ‘Emotion Coaching’ are more likely in 2016 than in 2014 to enjoy lessons, say that their school cares whether they are happy or not and to be able to say ‘no’ to someone who is asking them to do something that they don’t want to do.
- Almost 1 in 3 Primary age boys reported they had been bullied at or near school in the last 12 months
- More than nine in ten school pupils in each age group had been told how to stay safe online.
- 1 in 5 secondary boys and almost 1 in 3 girls had received a hurtful, nasty or scary message online.
- Young carers and secondary pupils who are looked after are more likely to be bullied or feel unsafe than others of the same age.
School, Work and Aspirations
- 43% of secondary school pupils enjoy all or most school lessons
- 47% of pupils said that they worry about exams and tests ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a lot’.
- 55% of secondary boys and 69% of girls responded that they want to continue in full-time education at the end of Year 11.
- 38% of FE students said that they would like to stay on in full-time education after leaving 6th form/college.
- 65% of FE students said they had done some form of paid work this term. 24% of all students said they worked for at least 40 hours last month.
Relationships and Sexual health:
- About 2 in 5 secondary pupils know where to obtain free condoms
- 73% of secondary pupils said they had learned about sexually transmitted infections from school lessons.
- 20% of Y10 pupils are either in a sexual relationship or have had one in the past.
- Almost 1 in 3 FE students who had had sex said that on the last occasion they had sexual intercourse they did not use contraception or protection.
As part of the 2014/15 Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) focus on rurality, SHEU analysed the results of each of the 2014 Primary and Secondary school surveys to identify any effects that living in a rural area might have upon attitudes and behaviours. Postcodes for each pupil were classed as either Rural or Non-Rural, comprising 40% and 60% of the sample, respectively. The main findings were:-
- Generally, there were few significant differences between the two groups, especially for topics such as self-esteem, safety and relationships.
- Rural children were less likely than others to live with both parents together
- Aspirations for post-Year 11 education or skills training were lower amongst rural children (esp boys) and they were less likely to think school prepares them for when they leave.
- Secondary pupils in rural areas were less positive about lessons and school generally
- Primary and secondary pupils with rural postcodes were more likely to be young carers
- Rural pupils were more likely to say their parents/carers smoked and that they had themselves smoked, mainly Year 10 girls
- Rural secondary pupils were more likely to have been offered cannabis and knew someone who takes drugs to get high
- They were less likely than others to have missed school due to illness/injury and because of a trip to their GP or dentist
- Rural primary children were less likely to use the internet in or out of school
- Rural primary children were more likely to have experienced some form of teasing, pushing, name-calling and other bullying and to feel afraid of going to school because of bullying.
Further reports have been produced based on each of the five Districts in Somerset, each of the three broad respondent age groups and also for a selection of themes. These are available from the Somerset Children and Young People Health and Wellbeing website. Please note that currently these have limited public access; only people with Somerset educ.uk, gov.uk or nhs.uk email addresses are able to register for access.
Somerset Health and Wellbeing in Learning Programme
The programme uses results of the survey to:-
- Enable Somerset Public Health to identify issues affecting the wellbeing of Somerset children generally;
- Influence commissioning decisions targeting support in the areas where it is most needed, particularly for the most vulnerable children and families;
- Enable each participating school or college to monitor development of its own pupils/students;
- Identify training needs for staff as part of school/college development and planning;
- Provide evidence for Ofsted of pupil voice informing policy and practice leading to school improvement.
In 2015 the programme led to the Emotion Coaching Programme and the Mental Health LifeHacks project that supported young people's engagement in a mental health project.
- For more information about national and Somerset-specific data, resources and toolkits , please see the Somerset Children and Young People Health and Wellbeing website. This is hosted by Public Health Somerset's Children and Young People's team to support schools, colleges, getset services, childrens' centres and the wider children and young people's workforce to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the county.
- For more data and intelligence about children and young people in Somerset, please see our Children and Young People home page.