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Starting and Growing Well   Download this section

Starting and Growing Well

This section covers key health indicators relating to pregnancy, birth, early years, childhood, education, and young adulthood in York.


Areas where York is doing well

Teenage Conception

The teenage conception rates in under 18s living in York are consistently lower than both regional and national averages. The teenage conception rate in York is also falling at a similar rate to the national trend. Teenage pregnancy is an important indicator of population health because younger mothers are more likely to experience unemployment, are more likely to live in poverty, and are more likely to experience mental ill health.

School Readiness

A good level of development measures how ready a child is to start school. It considers whether a child has developed the base skills necessary to engage and learn; for example, self care and taking turns. York has a large proportion of children achieving a good level of development by the end of the reception school year. This represents among the highest in the region and also among the highest among York's statistical neighbours. The proportion of children achieving school readiness in York is rising at a similar rate to the national trend. School readiness is an important measure of population health and inequalities, this is because children who achieve a 'good level of development' are more likely to do better in later education. A good education is also linked to better health outcomes in later life.


York has a lower proportion of 10-11 year olds who are obese compared with the national and regional figures; this has been a consistent trend over the last ten years. In children aged 4-5 years, the prevalence of obesity has been similar to or lower than national, regional, and statistical neighbour figures across the decade. This suggests that York has less of an issue with childhood obesity than other areas of England.

Despite this, it is important to recognise that the absolute numbers of obese children for both age groups in York are high. This means that whilst York is doing well in comparison to other areas of England, obesity is still impacting on the health of children in York.

GCSE Attainment

In York, the proportion of young people who achieve good GCSE grades is consistently higher than the national average, York students also tend to do very well in comparison to students elsewhere in Yorkshire and Humber. Despite this, a significant minority of students do not achieve at this level in York. Nationally, some groups of pupils are less likely to achive good GCSE grades. These include; children from deprived areas, children with learning disabilities, and children who are in care.


Areas where York needs to improve 

Smoking in pregnancy

The proportion of women who smoke at the time of their delivery is greater in York than any of York's statistical neighbours, and has recently risen above the national average for the first time in five years. This is an important indicator because smoking throughout pregnancy can harm the growth and development of infants and can affect their development in early life.

Alcohol Consumption

A greater proportion of 15 year olds in York report having ever consumed an alcoholic drink than the national average. Guidance from the Chief Medical Officer for England recommends that young people under 15 should not drink alcohol at all. This is an important indicator because drinking in early teenage years can be particularly harmful to health. Additionally, young people who start drinking alcohol at an earlier age tend to drink more frequently and more overall as they grow up than their peers who started drinking at an older age.


Information about the mental health of children in York can be found in the mental health chapter.


Areas of inequality in York 

Childhood obesity

Children living in the most deprived wards in York are three times more likely to be obese at reception age than those living in the least deprived ward. Similarly, black reception age children in York are significantly more likley to be obese than their peers.

Teenage pregnancy

The rate of teenage pregnancy in the most deprived ward is double the York average.

Smoking in pregnancy

Women living in the most deprived wards are five times more likely to smoke during pregnancy than women living in the least deprived wards.

School readinessA good level of development measures how ready a child is to start school. It considers whether a child has developed the base skills necessary to develop and learn. For example, self care and taking turns. At the end of the reception year, childrens' readiness for school is measured using the 'good level of development' framework. Children living in the more deprived wards in York are significantly less likely to attain this level than thier peers. 

School attainment in key stage two

By the end of key stage two, disadvantaged pupils are substantially less likely to be assessed as having a good level of reading, writing, and maths. This is also true for pupils with special educational needs.


Starting and Growing Well Inequality Report

Published in August 2018, this inequality report takes a deeper look into differences of experience for children and young people growing up in York. The report focuses on three interlinking themes, childhood obesity, self-harm in young people, and childhood poverty.


Other important health topics

Young people not in employment, education, and training (NEET)

Young people who are not in employment, education, or training after leaving secondary school are more likely to experience further unemployment and ill health later in their lives. York has a lower proportion of young people who are NEET than the national and regional averages. Both nationally and in York, the numbers of people who are NEET or who's activity is not known has fallen from the previous year. Despite this, some groups of young people continue to struggle to find employment, education, or training. This includes people from deprived areas or with few qualifications.  


There are a large number of vaccinations offered to children in the first few years of life, and throughout childhood. The data for York varies by vaccination type, but broadly York appears to be similar to or slightly above the national average for vaccination rates. However, this is almost always below the 95% coverage that is estimated to be necessary to protect the population. This remains an important opportunity to improve health protection for York and the region. 

Dental health

The picture of childhood dental health in York is mixed. York has a larger proportion of five year olds without any dental decay than both the regional and national averages. However, York has a very high proportion of children aged 0-4 admitted to hospital for dental decay among York's statistical neighbours. It is possible this a refection of York's local admissions practices, rather than a reflection of high levels of dental decay. 


Breastfeeding is known to be protective of children's health; for example by making young children less prone to infections and less likely to experience obesity in childhood. At this time there is insufficient data to be certain about breastfeeding rates in York, however the information available suggests York is similiar to the national average at 6-8 weeks after delivery.  


Students represent a significant proportion of residents in York. The student health needs assessment, published in June 2017, considered the health of students who attend the universities and colleges in York and the support and services available to them. It identified unmet health needs, particuarly around mental health. The full report is found in the topic specific needs assessment pages.


Smoking is a major cause of preventable early death and ill health, York has an ambition for all young people in York to be part of a 'smoke free generation'. The proportion of 15 year olds in York who report smoking either occasionally or regularly is similar to the national average. However, this has only been measured once in 2014/2015.

This page was last updated on 20 August 2018
This page will be reviewed by 20 August 2019