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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

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 neighbors. 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.

Teenage Conception

Nationally, teenage conception rates among under 18’s have been falling year on year for the last decade. The data for York is keeping pace with this national trend and is similar to or less than the national trend each year. 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.


Nationally, children’s weight is measured in reception year (4-5 year olds) and in Year 6 (10-11 year olds), Nationally, the proportion of 4-5 year olds at healthy weight is stable, but the proportion of 10-11 year olds at healthy weight is still falling slightly, and as a result the proportion of children with excess weight is rising slightly. In York, the data for both age groups has been similar to or slightly better than the national average, and York is in the middle of the statistical neighbour group for this indicator.

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.


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 (however this has only been measured once in 2014/15). 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 pages of this site.


Areas of inequality in York 

GCSE Attainment

The examination process at the end of secondary education has recently transitioned from ‘GCSE’ to ‘Attainment 8’. In York overall, the average attainment 8 score achieved by young people was higher than the national average. This reflects the GCSE attainment scores from the previous year. York has a higher GCSE attainment rate for children in care compared with the average for England and it’s statistical neighbours.

Childhood obesity

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

Teenage pregnancy

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

Smoking in pregnancy

Women living in the most deprived wards are more than twice as likely to smoke during pregnancy compared with the York average.

School attainment in key stage two

By the end of key stage two, disadvantaged pupils are 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.


The percentage of women who are totally or partially breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks varies significantly between the wards in York with a range of 40% to 72% between the most and least deprived wards.



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 neighbors. 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. The rates of breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks are higher in York compared with the national average. 


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, particularly 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 15 January 2020
This page will be reviewed by 15 January 2021