Statistics about groups of children and young people with specific health and care needs are provided on these pages.

The information on this page provides the context and key messages for children and young people in Northumberland alongside detailed data tables and statistical profiles which can be accessed from the related pages below.

For each population group statistical tables are provided covering the characteristics of children and young people alongside a profile which pulls the data together in a user friendly format. Additional links are also provided to related statistics and you can also access a comparable profile of children and young people in Northumberland.

Further statistics which may be useful, can be found in the people section of Northumberland knowledge including profiles of children aged nought - 15 and young people aged 16 - 24. Other useful statistics can be found in the latest Ofsted briefing prepared in October 2014.

Information on key strategies, documents and performance relating to children and young people can be found on the targeting families at risk page.

Children and young people: narrowing the gap

Below you can find statistics relating to children and young people in more vulnerable groups, in order to narrow the gap in education and health

The different ways that children, young people and families experience their life journey in Northumberland can be masked by looking at the data at county level. The outcomes within the county demonstrate that those living in the more deprived south east areas, experience very different outcomes compared with those from the more affluent rural areas and market towns in the north and west.


Notable features, backed up by the latest county level and national trend data, are as follows:
  • Children and families assessments include an analysis of the prevalence factors that have been identified during the assessment. The data shows that concerns around domestic violence and mental health feature in a relatively high number of assessments, and alcohol and drug misuse are also noted frequently. Children subject to sexual exploitation feature in around 3% of assessments, similar to the previous year and the national average. The safeguarding board has also received data on the prevalence of domestic violence, mental health and drug and alcohol abuse, broken down by ward. It demonstrates the high volume of adults experiencing such difficulties in the more deprived wards of the south east of the county. It also shows hotspots in other parts of the county such as Hexham East and Berwick.
  • Significantly higher than national average rates of demand for children’s social care, particularly in the south east of the county where there is a higher rate of referrals and greater deprivation. The level of referrals is relatively high compared with the national average and the levels of child poverty in the county (see child poverty assessment) vary significantly.
  • Significant increases in the number of children and young people needing more intensive support to protect them from risk and harm, demonstrated through the rates subject to section 47 investigations, child protection conferences and child protection plans. Again, the numbers are far higher in the south east of the county.
  • Unsurprisingly given the aforementioned intelligence, there are above average rates of children in need of social work support.
  • Rates of increase in the number of care applications have been sharper up until 2013. Whilst numbers of LAC are relatively low compared with north east neighbours, demand has increased. In Northumberland, the proportion of children aged nought-4 needing to be in local authority care is higher than the regional average, as is the proportion aged 10-14. For those aged 5-9 and 15-17, proportions needing to be in local authority care are lower than the regional average.
  • Rates of external fostering placements are costly and high and Northumberland needs more of its own foster carers in the localities where most of the demand originates from (i.e. the south east, with a figure of 31% compared with 19% across the region).
  • In hand with this, more adoptive carers are needed to provide permanent homes for those unable to return to their birth families. Additionally, more adoptive carers would help reduce the length of time that children wait to be adopted. Improvements have recently been seen in this area following a successful recruitment event.
  • There is a large range of different educational outcomes depending on where a child goes to school, a key determinant of future life chances for children and young people. Those achieving five good GCSEs varying by around 40% between Blyth, Bedlington and Ashington and Morpeth, Ponteland and Hexham. At most key stages, education outcomes at a countywide level are either below average or equal to average. Too many children in need and those who are looked after attend schools that are not judged as being good, and that needs to change.
  • Educational achievement of children in need is also below average. Conversely, educational outcomes for the most vulnerable children i.e. looked after children, have improved significantly.
  • school attendance is good overall, but there is too much variation within the county which reflects the education outcomes
  • Absence from school is better than the regional average and in line with national levels. Although this still masks significant variation between areas, with high levels in the Ashington and Bedlington areas. It is relatively poor for those children defined as being in need, but better for those who are subject to a child protection plan.
  • Numbers of young people becoming involved in the youth offending system are relatively low and have reduced significantly, as are those who need to be in custody, but the proportion who re-offend has increased recently. Performance reports to the council's family and children's overview and scrutiny committee contain further details on this.
  • looked after children have good access to health checks and dental care, although it is becoming more challenging to keep them up to date
  • Overall levels of 16-18 year olds who are NEET are slightly poorer than the national average, but better than the regional average. The large range seen in NEET rates reflects the different educational outcomes achieved, with far higher NEET rates in the south east than the market towns of Morpeth, Ponteland, Hexham and Alnwick. There is a need to identify more quickly the destinations of young people after they leave school so that professional staff can identify more quickly those young people who are NEET and provide them with targeted support. Proportions of those not known in the autumn term are too high, although they reduce to average levels later in the year.
  • Participation rates in NEET for 19-21 year old care leavers has been high for 19 year olds, but reduce with age. Overall, there has been a reduction recently, demonstrating the need to encourage ambition and provide opportunities that match.
  • A higher than average number of children and young people have been supported through SEN statements, although it has reduced. This is changing through the implementation of education and health care plans. Those subject to statements perform better than average at key stage two, yet are average at key stage four, revealing a slowing down of progress as children age.
  • There has been a long standing need for more accessible child and adolescent mental health services across the county. A new performance framework is in place and waiting times have reduced in 2014, although some children and young people still have to wait over 12 weeks for assessment following referral.
  • With regards to speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, where children and young people require the provision of one or more of these services during the course of the school day, they are provided for by the local authority and health service as a result of separately commissioned arrangements. The challenge issued by some parents is that this arrangement is less effective than that offered by a number of private and voluntary sector providers, who integrate these services within their core education offer. Where cases have been taken to tribunal, they have generally been found in favour of the parents’ request, not because Northumberland were able to meet educational need, but because it was perceived that they were unable to provide an appropriate therapeutic offer. This has led to a number of costly out of county placements, which the authority is potentially ‘locked into’ for the remainder of the child’s statutory education. A review of the commissioning agreements surrounding therapies is currently being undertaken. The aim is to ensure that, wherever possible, both educational and therapeutic needs are met within local mainstream and special school provision within Northumberland. In exceptional circumstances, and where it has been determined that need cannot be met by local school provision, together with commissioned therapy services (following appropriate educational and clinical assessment), a bespoke place will be commissioned from an independent school.
  • Key areas for review and consideration include:
    • existing pathways including from pre-school to statutory education provision
    • referral route for clinical assessment
    • roles and responsibilities of agencies and providers
  • In early years, there is a need for better levels of speech and communication to improve children’s access to better life chances in the future. There is a multi-agency early intervention strategy in place to help focus on how services can work with parents to improve this, along with other key factors in early development, such as breastfeeding, where rates in Northumberland are below average nationally, but better than average regionally.
  • Through consultation at takeover day, young people said their priorities were to live safely and to learn how to be independent. They have said they want to achieve as well as they can, be happy and healthy, living in places that have a strong spirit of community.

Local authority interactive tool (LAIT)

LAIT allows users to compare data about children and young people across all local authorities in England. The tool presents information in interactive tables and charts with the local authority’s rank and position within the national context.

The tool includes data on:
  • looked-after children
  • child protection
  • special educational needs (SEN)
  • pupil attainment
  • children’s health
  • post-16 circumstances
  • judgements from Ofsted
The full LAIT data can be accessed here.


The following spreadsheets provide data and charts from the LAIT for the key children and young people indicators:
Below you can find statistics relating to children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Supporting documents and strategies can be found at our targeting families at risk page.
Below you can find statistics relating to children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Supporting documents and strategies can be found at our targeting families at risk page
Below you can find statistics relating to children and young people (aged five to 24) who provide unpaid care: Supporting documents and strategies can be found at our targeting families at risk page.
Below you can find statistics relating to children and young people with mental health issues Supporting documents and strategies can be found at our targeting families at risk page.
Below you can find statistics relating to children and young people with physical disabilities: Supporting documents and strategies can be found at our targeting families at risk page.
Education and skills
School census data Northumberland
Children from BME backgrounds
profile of vulnerable young people in Northumberland (links to all)
Below you can find statistics relating to children and young people in more vulnerable groups, in order to narrow the gap in education and health

Children and young people's plan

The children and young people’s plan sets out the overarching ambitions for children and young people in Northumberland.
There are five key priorities in the children and young people’s plan:
  1. More people in work, fewer in poverty
  2. All children and young people living in safe and secure environments
  3. Improving educational achievement for all
  4. Improving health outcomes
  5. Resilient communities, where citizens are empowered to lead
The children and young people’s plan sets out the strategies, policies and operational mechanisms in place that demonstrate how these objectives are delivered.

Northumberland early help strategy

Northumberland early help strategy provides the blueprint for Early Help in Northumberland ensuring every child receives support at the earliest point possible coordinated using an Early Help Assessment. It brings together everyone working with a child and family to ensure they get the right sort of help and support at the right time. This document is currently under review with a new strategy available by the end of 2015.

Early Years development

The early years (from nought to five years) are critical in shaping health and wellbeing later in life. Improving outcomes for children, families and communities, as well as creating services that provide better access and experience, are essential. Giving every child the best start in life is crucial to reducing health inequalities across the life course.

During pregnancy and in the first two years of the child’s life, the brain and neurological pathways are set for life. It is the most important period for brain development, and is a key determinant of intellectual, social and emotional health and wellbeing.

A Sure Start children’s centre is a focal point in every community where families with children under five can access all the services and information they need. They are there to ensure that all children get the best possible start in life. There are 20 Children's Centres in Northumberland.


Northumberland is a large and diverse community and the complexity of the delivery of parenting support reflects this. All parents in Northumberland have an entitlement to a range of information, support and advice throughout their child’s life journey from pre-birth to 19+ years.

This entitlement will be delivered through a parenting offer, available to all parents throughout their child’s life. The Family Information Service will be central is sharing information. Local providers of parenting support are encouraged to form partnerships to ensure that the provision of parenting is coordinated and makes best use of resources to meet local needs.





Troubled Families’ is a government programme run through the department for communities and local government, but with cross departmental support. The aim of the programme announced in December 2011, is to identify and turn around the lives of 120,000 families.

Each local authority had to agree with the Department for Communities and Local Government, how many families they would turn around.

For Northumberland this figure is 650 and the programme is known as ‘supporting families’ and provided through a partnership of services, including the local authority, police, health, Job Centre Plus, and the voluntary and community sector. For more information click here.
Troubled Families are households who:
  • are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour
  • have children who are not in school
  • have an adult on out of work benefits
  • cause high costs to the public purse
Their characteristics cause significant difficulties within communities and have poor outcomes for children. Often a range of agencies will be involved with them, each focusing on a particular individual within the family. This fragmented and costly approach can hamper progress for the family.

The Northumberland Supporting Families Partnership challenges this by identifying family-based interventions. It aims to ensure that all families who are or could benefit from additional coordinated support are notified or referred into the initiative.
Intensive support is being delivered through the Family Recovery Project in liaison with the Targeted Adolescent Service. The first steps are to:
  • develop a multi-agency delivery model
  • identify the families eligible for support
  • introduce a family-based progress tracking system that can be used across appropriate organisations
The approach will be to address issues earlier that could otherwise lead to long term specialist involvement with families that, whilst keeping children and young people safe, does not necessarily support them to realise their potential within their own communities. This will support: adults back into work; children into school; and reduced levels of crime and anti-social behaviour.

Troubled families Phase 2

In June 2013, the government announced plans to expand the Troubled Families programme for a further five years from 2015, and to reach up to an additional 400,000 families across England. £200 million has been committed to fund the first year of this five year programme.

In the 2014 budget, the government announced that it would offer the highest performing areas the opportunity to start the delivery of the expanded Troubled Families programme early, during 2014/15. Northumberland met the targets to join the second wave of ‘early starter’ areas and began delivery in January 2015, initially to 105 families and approximately 2110 over the following five years of the programme.

To be offered support through the expanded programme, families would have two of the following areas of need:
  • parents and/or children involved in crime or anti-social behaviour
  • children who have not been attending school regularly
  • children of all ages, who need help, are identified as in need or are subject to a child protection plan
  • adults out of work or at risk of financial exclusion or young people at risk of worklessness
  • families affected by domestic violence and abuse
  • parents and children with a range of health problems
The local authority will need to agree on referral criteria and produce an outcomes plan.

 Key documents

Introduction Health and Well-being Assessment profiles pull together statistics about groups of people with health and care needs in the County and form the evidence base in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Northumberland. This profile provides statistics about looked after children (LAC) in Northumberland. These are children who are aged under-18 and are looked after by the local authority.

The local authority statistics below are rounded to the nearest five and regional and national figures are rounded to the nearest ten, all percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number to protect confidentiality. Detailed statistical tables containing additional information to that provided in this profile for looked after children can be found online. Statistics relate to 31 March in the reference year and analysis covers the five year period between 31 March 2009 and 31 March 2013.

Key Points

  • Northumberland County Council had 315 children in the looked after care system at March 2013, this is the highest number and rate recorded at this time of year in Northumberland during the last five years.
  • Northumberland has 52 children in the looked after care system per 10,000 population which is lower than the rate in England (60) and the North East Region (80).
  • The number of looked after children in Northumberland increased by 35 in the 12 months between 31 March 2012 and 2013 (+35), this was the largest annual change between 31 March 2009 and 2013.
  • Of the 315 children looked after in Northumberland at 31 March 2013, 255 (80 per cent) were cared for in a foster placement, while 165 children were looked after under a care order representing 53 per cent of all looked after children.
  • Northumberland figures show that less than half of all looked after children (46 per cent) have emotional and behavioural health that is considered normal.

Number of Looked After Children

Northumberland County Council currently has 315 children in the looked after care system at March 2013, this is the highest number and rate recorded at this time of year in Northumberland during the last five years (see Figure 1). This is an increase of 13 per cent compared to 31 March 2012 and 17 per cent compared to 31 March 2009. Northumberland has 52 children in the looked after care system per 10,000 population which is lower than the rate in England (60) and the North East Region (80). Figure 2 below shows that between 31 March 2009 and 31 March 2013 the rate of looked after children for Northumberland has increased from 43 to 52 per 10,000 population (+9) this is more than the increase in England (54 to 60, +6) but considerably lower than the increase in the North East Region (61 to 80, +19). The number of looked after children in Northumberland increased by 35 in the 12 months between 2012 and 2013 (+35), this was the largest annual change between 2009 and 2013