New JSNA: This is the test site for the new Joint Strategic Needs Assessment

Children & Young People


Supporting children and young people to have the best start in life and to be as healthy as possible is a key priority for key local stakeholders across Reading. The Local Authority, partners in health and the voluntary sector work collaboratively wherever possible to improve the current and future opportunities for our children and young people.

However, there are many issues that can be seen as barriers that restrict these opportunities. There are significant numbers of children living in poverty, children who are looked after generally are at greater risk of poorer health and need extensive support, there are high numbers of children in need, children with disabilities can be significantly disadvantaged and young carers can miss out from the opportunities that other young people, who don't have a caring role, have.

The All Party Parliamentary Group report - Inquiry: Child Poverty and Health (APPG, 2016) re-affirms that children who are living in poverty are at an increased risk of experiencing poor health outcomes.

Reading's Local Safeguarding Children Board makes sure that key agencies work together to keep local children and young people safe. The Board's role is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and ensure the effectiveness of what is done by each agency that works with children. More information can be found in the 'Safeguarding Children' JSNA section regarding local safeguarding issues.

What do we know?

Child poverty

The Child Poverty Act 2010 defines child poverty as follows: "A child is taken to be living in poverty if the child experiences socio-economic disadvantage." By 'socio-economic disadvantage' the government means 'lacking parental resources and/or opportunities to participate in meaningful activities, services and relationships'. In reality this means missing out on school trips, socialising with friends, days out and family holidays.

Translating this into terms that can be measured, child poverty can be summarised as a child living in a household that has less than 60% of the national median income (Child Poverty Act 2010: a short guide, 2014). However, the Government wants to strengthen the child poverty measure to make it relevant in today's society (DWP, 2015).

Reading is the largest urban area within Berkshire, with a population of around 160,000. There has been significant expansion over the last 20 years, changing Reading from a market town to a vibrant city in the making. Despite its prosperity, however, Reading contains some of the most deprived wards in the country. There is a strong relationship between poverty, deprivation and poor health and education outcomes which can reduce opportunities for the local population.

Children in Need

A child in need is defined under the Children Act 1989 as 'a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable level of health or development, or whose health and development is likely to be significantly or further impaired, without the provision of services; or a child who is disabled'.


The Office for Disability Issues (2014) estimates that there are 0.8 million disabled children in Great Britain. This estimate covers the number of children with a longstanding illness, disability or infirmity, and who have a significant difficulty with day-to-day activities. 21% of children in families with at least one disabled family member are in poverty, a significantly higher proportion than the 16% of children in families with no disabled family member.

Young carers

The 2011 Census identified that nationally, there were 177,918 young carers (children under the age of 18 years) providing regular and ongoing care to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances. In reality, this figure is likely to be much higher.

Young carers may be reluctant to identify themselves to services due to concerns about being taken into care or bullying. Most young carers are aged between 10 and 17 years of age with most providing between 1-19 hours of care a week (Office of National Statistics, 2011). However, 8.8% of young carers in 2011 were providing high levels of care (defined as 50 or more hours a week). Similar to adults, young carers are more likely to describe their health as "not good" when compared to young people not providing care. This was particularly likely for young carers providing more than 50 hours a week, who were 5 times a likely to have "not good" health compared to those not providing care (Office for National Statistics, 2011).

Providing a caring role can impact negatively on a young carer's emotional development and their ability to build relationships with others, with young carers being at a higher risk of experiencing depression and self-harm. Young carers may come to light through issues at school, such as poor attendance, lateness and bullying. However, these along with anxiety, fatigue and limited access to extracurricular activities can all manifest themselves in lower educational attainment.

Facts, Figures, Trends

Child poverty

The English Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015 provided an updated ranking of all Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in the country, from 1st most deprived to 32,884th least deprived areas. LSOAs are small areas of an average of 1,500 residents each, who share similar economic and social conditions.

A supplementary index was produced alongside this, relating to Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI). This indicates that Reading is in the 6th least deprived decile of local authorities in England (using average score of the Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in the Borough). 6 (6%) of the LSOAs in Reading are in the 10% most deprived in England according to the IDACI measures. Neighbourhoods in Norcot, Church, Whitley and Redlands wards were the most deprived.

Children in poverty (under 16s): this is defined as the percentage of children in low income families (children living in families in receipt of out of work benefits or tax credits where their reported income is less than 60% median income). In 2012, 19.4% of children under 16 were in poverty in Reading (Public health outcomes framework). This is similar to the England figure. Figure 1 below shows the trend over recent years. Reading has been consistently above the England and other areas in the fifth least deprived deciles.

Children in poverty (all dependent children under 20): this is defined as the percentage of dependent children aged under 20 in relative poverty (living in households where income is less than 60 per cent of median household income before housing costs). In 2012, 18.8% of dependent children under 20 were in poverty in Reading. This is higher than the England figure of 18.6% (Public health outcomes framework).

Reading is described in the Child Health Profiles as having a level of child poverty that is worse than the England average, with 22.2% of children aged under 16 years living in poverty. This means that almost 1 in 4 of the children being brought up in the Borough are living in poverty.

Figure 1: Children in poverty (under 16) trends (2006-2012) image1

Public health outcomes framework

Table 1 below shows that, in 2014, there were 5,560 children aged 18 and under in Reading living in 2,900 households that were claiming out of work benefits.

Table 1: Number of Children living in all Out-of-work Benefit Claimant Households by Local Authority and Age at May 2014

Local Authority

Age 0-4

Age 5-10

Age 11-15

Age 16-18


Age 0-15

Age 0-18


Number of Households

Bracknell Forest UA










Brighton and Hove UA










Isle of Wight UA










Medway UA










Milton Keynes UA










Portsmouth UA










Reading UA










Slough UA










Southampton UA










West Berkshire UA










Windsor and Maidenhead UA










Wokingham UA










Source: DWP - Official statistics (July 2015)

Reading Borough's level of child poverty is above the national average and this has damaging consequences. 30% of Reading Pupils are eligible for pupil premium. This is the highest level in Berkshire where the average is 20%. The Child Poverty Action Group estimates the cost of child poverty in Reading to be £85million per year in cost of services (for example NHS and schools), lost tax receipts, cost of benefits and loss of earnings (Tackling Poverty in Reading: Needs Analysis, 2014).

The Child Poverty Act 2010 defines a child as living in poverty if they live in a household with an income below 60% of the UK median household income before housing costs are deducted and set targets for reducing the overall number in the UK. There is a number of proxy indicators used to estimate the number of children in poverty in local areas.

Children in Low-Income Families

The Children in Low-Income Families Local Measure provides the number and proportion of children living in families either in receipt of out-of-work or in receipt of tax credits where the reported household income is less than 60 per cent of national median income. The snapshot data for 2013 (published November 2015) indicates that 6,230 children in families in receipt of in-work and out-of-work benefits in Reading had a household income of less than 60% of the median, equivalent to 17.8% of children in the borough. This is similar to the percentages for all of England and UK (18.0% and 18.1% respectively), but higher than the percentage for the South-East (13.2%), suggesting that there are patterns of deprivation in Reading that distinguish it from its neighbouring boroughs (HMRC, 2015). An analysis of these figures by ward, shown in Figure 2 below, demonstrates a wide discrepancy between the most and least deprived wards in Reading. The lowest levels occur in Mapledurham (2.7% in 2013), Peppard (6.7%) and Thames (3.8%), and the highest in Whitley (27.2%), Church (25.2%) and Norcot (23.5%).

Further analysis undertaken in Reading's 'Tackling Poverty in Reading' Needs Analysis also examines numbers of children in poverty at Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) and identifies the very highest numbers in the North of Whitley ward and the Amersham Road area of Caversham. There are also high numbers in the South of Whitley, the Northumberland Avenue area between Whitley and Church wards, the Oxford Road area of Battle and Kentwood wards, and the Coley area of Minster ward. The map below in Figure 3 gives a colour coded view of the numbers of children living in poverty across Reading.

Figure 2: Children in low income families by ward, 2011-13


Source: HMRC, 2015


Figure 3: Numbers of children living in poverty by LSOA.


Source: RBC, 2015

Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index

When the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index is used to compare the wards in Reading (Figure 4 below) a slightly different picture to the Children in Low-Income Families measure (Figure 5 below) is produced. This is likely to reflect the inclusion in the IDACI of those who are on low incomes but not eligible for in-work benefits. Local information suggests that Reading may have a higher rate of people in low-paid work than other areas (RBC, 2015).

Figure 4: IDACI score by ward, 2015


Source: Index of Multiple Deprivation, 2015

Using IDACI to analyse LSOAs also produces a slightly different pattern to that seen when using the Children in Low-Incomes Families measure, but both measures indicate areas of high numbers of children in poverty around North Whitley, Amersham Road, South Whitley, Northumberland Avenue and Oxford Road.

Figure 5: Income deprivation affecting child poverty by LSOA, 2015


Source: Index of Multiple Deprivation, 2015

Pupil Premium

The Pupil Premium is the additional targeted funding for publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, closing the gap between them and their peers. Allocation of the Pupil Premium is also used as a proxy to indicate the number of children living in poverty in local authority areas and in schools. 28.4% of Reading pupils are eligible for the Pupil Premium, compared to 22.6% in the South-East and 29.5% for England.

Comparing the proportion of pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium in non-selective, mainstream primary and secondary schools suggests trends in some ways broadly similar to those seen above, with high proportions of eligibility in some Whitley schools, and very low proportions of eligibility in Peppard and Thames wards. It is notable, however, that some wards have both a school with a very high proportion of eligible pupils and a school with a very low proportion of eligible pupils, suggesting a range of levels of income and deprivation amongst those living within these wards.

Table 2: Percentage of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium, 2015-16

10 Reading schools with highest % eligible for Pupil Premium 2015-16


% eligible for Pupil Premium


Total no. pupils

John Madejski Academy (Secondary)




Geoffrey Field Junior School




Whitley Park Primary




Palmer Primary Academy




Ranikhet Primary Academy




Manor Primary School




The Ridgeway Primary School




Meadow Park Academy




Reading Girls School (Secondary)




Moorlands Primary School




Reading schools with lowest % eligible for Pupil Premium 2015-16

Caversham Primary School




St Martins Catholic Primary School




Emmer Green Primary School




The Hill Primary School




Caversham Park Primary School




Redlands Primary School




All Saints COE Infant School




St Johns COE Primary School




Alfred Sutton Primary School




All Saints COE Junior School




Highdown School (secondary)




E. P. Collier Primary School




Park Lane Primary School




Southcote Primary School




Source: Education Funding Agency, Pupil Premium Final Allocations 2015-16, March 2015.

Selective schools, schools for those with special education needs (and 'faith' schools with more restrictive admissions policies) have been omitted)

Looked After Children (LAC)

There were 210 looked after children (LAC) as of 31 March 2014, a decrease of 7% (225) compared to 31 March 2013 and a decrease of 2% (205) compared to 31 March 2010. The number of LAC has decreased steadily over the past five years and is now at its lowest since 2010.

The rate of LAC in Reading per 10,000 is 60 which is now the same as the national rate (Figure 6 below). At local authority level the rate varies significantly. The highest is Blackpool where the rate is 152 and Wokingham is the lowest, at 20.

Figure 6. Rate of LAC per 10,000 Children, Reading and England, 2010-2014

Figure 6. Rate of LAC per 10,000 Children, Reading and England, 2010-2014
Figure 6. Rate of LAC per 10,000 Children, Reading and England, 2010-2014

Source: Department for Education 2014

The age profile of children who are looked after at 31 March 2014 has been relatively stable since 2010. The largest age group is 10 to 15 year olds, which made up 38% of looked after children at 31 March 2014. There has been a slight increase in the percentage of 16 and over, from 18% in 2010, to 21% in 2014. These trends are in line with the age breakdown of all children.

Table 3 below shows the number of new LAC entrants per month from April 2014 - March 2015. There were a total of 94 new LAC entrants for this period and a further breakdown of numbers by age bracket follows below:

Table 3: LAC entrants per month

Age range

Number of LAC entrants per month

Under 1


Aged 1 - 4


Aged 5 - 9


Aged 10 - 15


Aged 16+


Source: Reading Borough Council, Children's Services

There has been a slight downward trend for each age category. Under 1's are higher as this age range is removed from the home whilst the social worker is carrying out the assessment as they are usually too vulnerable. It is positive to see that early identification and analysis of risk has led to protective measures being taken for the most vulnerable group; that of babies. Greater awareness of 'The Southwark Judgement' is likely to underpin the comparatively large number of 16+ young people entering care.

Emotional well-being of LAC is a good proxy measure of how young people are coping while being looked after and understanding future risk of experiencing mental health problems. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is used to assess emotional well-being of LAC aged 5 - 16. Scores are submitted to a national database which allows comparisons to other regions. The higher the score the higher the risk. Figure 7 below shows that Reading scores are consistently higher than the England average; however, the gap is narrowing. Continued emotional support for LAC in Reading should help to maintain the downward trend and continue to narrow the gap.

Figure 7. Emotional well-being of LAC, Reading and England, 2010/11-2013/14


Source: Department for Education 2014

The majority of LAC - 67% (45) in 2014 - are provided with a service due to been abused or suffering neglect. The reasons why looked after children are provided with a service have been relatively stable since 2010 and are shown in figure 8 below.

Figure 8: Number of children looked after by behaviour need - Jul 2014 - Mar 2015


Source: Department for Education, 2015

The chart above shows a high number of looked after children with BESD (Behaviour, Emotional and Social Difficulties) compared to the other behavioural need definitions. BESD is the highest recorded category - there is consequently a range of complex and chronic difficulties experienced by many children and young people and as such requires support not just for the child but for the family also.

The majority of LAC in Reading are categorised as white British (Figure 9 below). Reading serves a very diverse community, so demographically these figures could be under-representative locally. This data is not reflective of whether we are meeting the BME group needs when it comes to safeguarding children. BME communities don't always present to children's services so we must question this data and ask ourselves whether we are able to challenge behaviours when there is a cultural difference.

Figure 9: LAC Ethnicity data


Source: Purple Book, 2014

Table 4 compares Readings LAC ethnicity data to that of England's average. Although the BME population looked after is greater than the England average there is a view that this still shows an unmet need in terms of young people from BME communities who actually should be looked after locally.

Table 4: Ethnicity data for England and Reading 2014/15 (Purple Book, 2014)

Comparative Data


% White









If a child has more than one assessment in the year then each instance is recorded.

Statutory guidance 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' (DfE, 2015) gives guidance on inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It was recently revised to give local authorities more flexibility when assessing children. In Reading, the majority of cases are assessed within 11-20 days (21%) and 1-10 days (20%). Still there are 17% of cases which are 45+ days to complete. This could be associated with staff's high caseloads and absence.

Figure 10 - Factors identified at the end of assessment for episodes in the year ending 31 March 2015

Figure 10 – Factors identified at the end of assessment for episodes in the year ending 31 March 2015
Figure 10 – Factors identified at the end of assessment for episodes in the year ending 31 March 2015

Source: Children in Need Census

Figure 10 above shows the factors identified at the end of an assessment. There could be more than one factor recorded for an assessment. 46% of recorded factors relate to domestic violence however 42% of recorded factors are for 'other factors'. The high percentage in this category is indicating recording of factors may need to be improved so that actual reasons identified.

There were a total of 579 children that were subject to Section 47 enquiries which started in the period 2014/15 (Figure 11 below). Of these, 301 children were the subject of a child protection conference.

Figure 11 - Number of children who were subject to section 47 enquiries and initial child protection conferences, year ending 31 March 2015


Source:  Children in Need Census

Of the 301 children subject to a child protection conference, 191 were started within 11-15 days. A longer duration of 16-20 days and 21+ days is mainly due to family and social worker availability to attend conferences.

During 2014/15, 252 children became the subject of a child protection plan, of these 122 children were recorded as being neglected - this is 48% of cases as shown in figure 12 below. Of the 252 children who were subject to a child protection plan, 60 of these (23.8%) became the subject of a plan for a second or subsequent time. This indicates that support may have been withdrawn too early. Some parents also disguise compliance and are not ready to have the support withdrawn.

Figure 12 - Number of children who became the subject of a child protection plan during the year ending 31 March 2015, by initial category of abuse.

Figure 12 – Number of children who became the subject of a child protection plan during the year ending 31 March 2015, by initial category of abuse
Figure 12 – Number of children who became the subject of a child protection plan during the year ending 31 March 2015, by initial category of abuse

Source: Children in Need Census

Children in Need (CIN)

On 31st March 2014, there were 1499 children in need (CIN) in Reading and has risen since the previous reporting period. This is a rate of 432.5 per 10,000 children, significantly higher than the national rate and the rate for Berkshire. Figure 13 below shows that Reading's rate has consistently been higher over recent years. 157 of Reading's CIN had a disability, which was 10.5% of all CIN. At the same time, 154 children were the subject of a child protection plan in Reading. This is a rate of 44.4 per 10,000 children, compared with a national rate of 42.1.

Figure 13. Children in need per 10,000 population - 2011 to 2014

Figure 13. Children in need per 10,000 population – 2011 to 2014
Figure 13. Children in need per 10,000 population – 2011 to 2014

Source: Department for Education, 2014

This data shown in Figure 14 below shows the number of CIN and episode starts/finishes. It tells us that we are good at getting interventions to children and families to prevent them from going into mainstream child protection services. Targeted support for a short period of time are been put in place i.e. open and close cases within a year.

Figure 14 - Numbers of CIN and episode status - 2014/15

Figure 14 – Numbers of CIN and episode status – 201415
Figure 14 – Numbers of CIN and episode status – 201415

Source: Children in Need Census

A further breakdown of disability as recorded at 31.03.15 is available. 11.3% of children in need had a recorded disability (Figure 15 below).

Figure 15: Number of children in need and with a disability at 31.03.15 


Source: Children in Need Census

Figure 16 below shows a higher proportion of children in need with a disability of autism/ Asperger followed by those with a learning difficulty.

Figure 16: Number of children in need by disability at 31.03.15 


Source: Children in Need Census

When a child is referred to children's social care with a request for services to be provided, an assessment is carried out. If it is deemed the child needs services, then the main reason why the child started to receive services is recorded as their primary need.

Figure 17 below highlights that 48% of the primary needs at assessment are for abuse or neglect. 21% of primary needs at assessment are not stated and again reflects a need to improve recording of actual reasons of the primary needs at assessment.

Figure 17 - Children in Need by Primary Need at Assessment at 31.03.15


Source: Children in Need Census

The duration of episode of need is calculated using the difference between the referral date and the CIN closure date. 61% of cases are no longer children in need within 3 months or less, which is positive in Reading. This means that Social Workers are assessing children within a short timeframe and ensuring adequate and appropriate resources are in place for the child. 10% of long term open cases are still children in need after 2 years as they are mostly CIN disabled and they need support for their life time. On average, 23% of referrals we receive either monthly or yearly are repeat referrals.

Figure 18 - No. of Children ceasing to be in Need at 31.03.15 by reason for case closure 


Source: Children in Need Census. (*Missing/Unknown includes data from case closed after assessment and unreliability in coding).

97% of cases ceasing to be categorised as a CIN are due to 'other including no longer child in need'. The child's needs are no longer meeting the thresholds as appropriate support services have been put in place.


The Department for Education publishes a quarterly estimate of the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), based on the Labour Force Survey. The latest data release included information for 2014/15 Q3 (Oct-Dec 2014) at an England level. At this time, the percentage of NEET young people fell across all summary age groups in England and was the lowest on record for 16-18 year olds. The 16-18 NEET rate fell to 7.0%, the 19-24 rate fell to 15.9% and the overall 16-24 rate fell to 13.1%. For both 16-18 and 19-24 year olds, this change was driven by a fall in the proportion of those not in education or training (NEET) and a rise in the employment rate of the NEET group (ONS, 2016).

An indicator to measure the proportion of 16-18 year olds who are NEET is included in the Public Health Outcomes Framework. This indicator is published annually and uses the average proportion of NEETs between November and January each year. In 2013/14, 6.3% (270) of 16-18 year olds in Reading were NEET. This is a significant improvement on 2012/13's figure, but is still significantly worse than the national figure of 5.3% (PHE, 2014).

Figure 19 and Table 5 show the percentage of 16-18 year olds known to the Local Authority who were NEET for the end of 2013/14. The NEET data used is an average from the end of November 2013, December 2013 and January 2014. This data relates to where young people live, rather that the area that they attended school or college. For Reading, the average rate was 6.7% of 16 to 18 year olds who were NEET, a decrease from 8.4% in 2012/13. This is still higher than the national average but lower than the average of Local Authorities with similar levels of deprivation. The decrease is to be welcomed, however, caution must be taken when benchmarking data. There are significant fluctuations in the numbers of young people where NEET/EET activity is recorded as 'Not Known' by authorities. The 'Not Known' percentage for Reading in 2012 was 2.8%. The average 'Not Known' percentage for South East was 13% in 2012. The higher the percentage of 'Not Known' is, the less reliable the NEET data becomes. Data for the comparator deprivation decile is currently only available for 2013.

Figure 19: 16 to 18 year olds not in employment education or training 2011 to 2015

Figure 19
Figure 19

Table 5: 16 to 18 year olds not in employment education or training 2011 to 2013



Deprivation decile















Source: Public Health England, Public Health Outcomes Framework. (Ind. 1.05)

Young Carers

A recent health needs assessment for carers across Berkshire provides a detailed summary of carers needs in Reading (PH services for Berkshire, 2015). Figure 20 below shows that, in 2011, there were 1,157 young and young adult carers in Reading aged 0-24 years. The majority of these young people are highly likely to be missing out on experiencing a 'normal' childhood. Their education could be impacted, they may be suffering from stress and they may not be as healthy as they should be.

Figure 20: Number of unpaid carers in Reading by age group (2011)


Source: HNA for carers across Berkshire: Reading

The chart below in figure 21 shows that 4.8% of children and young adults in Reading aged 0 to 24 have a caring role. Providing a caring role may have an additional detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of this group of individuals.

Figure 21: Percentage of Reading residents who provided unpaid care by age group (2011)


Source: HNA for carers across Berkshire: Reading

57.6% of young carers in Reading were female, which is comparable with the overall figure of 56.5% for all carer age groups.

Figure 22 below shows the amount of care provided by Reading's young carers, split by ages 0-15's and ages 16-24. In 2011, the vast majority of young carers provided up to 19 hours of care per week. 30 young carers aged 15 or under provided 50 hours or more of care a week. 107 carers aged 16 to 24 also provided this same level of care.

In both age groups, there were a higher number of carers providing 50 or more hours a week, compared to those providing 20-49 hours a week.

Figure 22: Percentage of Reading residents who provided unpaid care by age group (2011)


Source: HNA for carers across Berkshire: Reading

The 2011 census provides ward-level data for the number of young carers in Reading. These range from 1.4% of the under 25 population in Thames ward to 2.7% in Church ward. The distribution of young carers across Reading is different than the distribution of adult carers, which may be a reflection of the different age profiles for each ward. (ONS, 2011)

Most (56.7%) are providing unpaid care for their mother, with a further 28.8% caring for a sibling and 11.9% caring for their father. Mental health conditions are the most common condition cared for with 33.4% of identified young carers in Reading providing care for someone with this need (Figure 23 below).

Figure 23: Conditions that young carers in Reading are providing unpaid care for


Source: Young Carers project

National & Local Strategies (Current best practices)

Child poverty

A review of local authority implementation of the Child Poverty Act by the charity Child Poverty Action Group identifies the following as key features of effective child poverty strategies:

  • High level political commitment, backed up by a board within the local authority taking clear responsibility for developing the strategy.
  • A strategy that is built on the assessment of drivers of child poverty identified within the child poverty needs assessment, including parental worklessness, levels of education within the borough and housing need.
  • A strategy that is built on consultation with children, young people and parents

Reading Borough's Sustainable Community Strategy (2011) highlights that addressing the persistent gap between the most affluent and most deprived neighbourhoods in Reading, which fuels a range of social issues associated with poverty, is a key challenge.

Reading Borough Council has a Child Poverty Strategy with 4 strands. These reflect the approach in the national Child Poverty Strategy and provide a useful framework:

  • Improving Life Chances - breaking the cycle.
  • Supporting those who can't work / on low incomes - income maximisation.
  • Increasing Employability / Addressing Low Income - up-skilling and employment support.
  • Creating Sustainable Communities - improving quality of life in our more deprived communities.


Recent National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) (Nelson and O'Donnell, 2012) identifies 3 key elements to effective national policy  strategy including:

  • Macro-economic funding for youth training and employments opportunities including tailor-made bespoke programmes;
  • fiscal stimuli to encourage employers to employ young people;
  • central responsibility and co-ordination to reduce NEET

There has been a tendency for local strategies to focus on what activity Local Authorities, information, advice and guidance, and learning providers and young people themselves can do to address NEET. The research above suggests that there is a need to consider what local labour markets, employers and businesses can offer, for example, through local enterprise partnerships (LEPS) to support young people into EET and to address the significant mismatch between young people's aspirations and the opportunities available. The focus needs to be on building links with the local labour market at a strategic level - to simplify and encourage opportunities for employees to work with young people, who are NEET, engage local employers in strategy development, support planning officers to work with employers to create opportunities, research the local issues leading to NEET and develop better targeted support. (Nelson and O'Donnell, 2012)

There are a range of approaches needed to engage the different cohorts of young people who are NEET. Recent NFER research (Spielhofer et al.,2009) identified three discreet sub-categories of NEET young people aged 16-17 :

  • 'Open to learning' - young people with high levels of attainments and positive attitudes towards school and learning and who are most likely to re-engage; need no or low level access to Information, Advice and Guidance.
  • 'Sustained' - young people who have had higher levels of truancy and exclusions and lower attainment and are most likely to remain long term NEET; who require high cost targeted support.
  • 'Undecided' - young people who have reasonable attainment levels but are dissatisfied with the available opportunities. This group need appropriate and timely IAG and help with focus and direction.

Nelson and O'Donnell (2012) highlight that a well co-ordinated strategy for engagement or re-engagement, especially where young people have deeply entrenched barriers is needed to address NEET. Research undertaken by the Local Government Association and others (GHK Consulting, 2009) suggests a series of cross cutting issues to achieving engagement and reducing NEET percentages.

Reading's Strategy for supporting NEET prevention/reduction

The development of the City Deal Strategy will inform and drive the overarching strategy for improving employment and skills outcomes in Reading. A key focus is on labour market interventions targeting young people (ages 16-24) with the objective to simplify pathways and systems to help deliver better outcomes.

A revised NEET strategy will be developed in this context. The interim NEET plan's primary aim was to reduce the number of young people Not in Education, Employment or Training in Reading and to support local and regional plans that Raise the Participation Age (RPA) to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015.

It primarily focuses on 16-18 NEET, but has some cross over with regard to pre-16 and over 18 year old work. The strategy sets out five key aims, which Reading Borough Council and its partners endeavour to meet in order to achieve local NEET reduction:

  • Prevent NEET and act early on disengagement.
  • Understand the cohort and ensure a focus on performance.
  • Diversify and open up the learning offer with a focus on the most vulnerable.
  • Strengthen partnership working.
  • Ensure young people have access to good quality support when they need it most.

A broad range of activity is delivered in Reading to support young people into education, employment and training (EET) including. The multi-agency NEET

Task Group's role is to oversee the implementation of the local strategy.

The provision for tracking and monitoring young people's NEET/EET activity and careers information, guidance (IAG) and support for young people aged 16 - 19 who are NEET and vulnerable young people at risk of NEET is commissioned by the Local Authority and is provided by Adviza (formerly Connexions Berkshire). Other key activity includes:

  • Raising Participation Partnership - work with schools, training providers and employers to prepare for the introduction of 'Raising the Participation Age' by Central Government which requires that all 16 and 17 year olds and are either in education or training by 2013.
  • Productive Pathways Project - Development of a virtual platform and Gateway portal for 16-24 year olds.
  • Apprenticeship steering group.
  • Careers Leads Group - Supports schools to deliver on quality IAG.
  • Implementation of the RONI (Risk of NEET Indicator) to help schools target those most at risk.
  • Post 16 Transition Group to provide pathways vulnerable young people into EET.
  • Range of volunteer mentoring schemes; alternative learning and engagement activity delivered by a range of providers across Reading; work pairing at Reading College; delivery of the Youth Contract for a specific cohort of 16-17 year olds.

Young carers

The Reading Young Carers Project is provided through Reading Borough Council and includes a weekly support group for carers of different ages (5-19 years) during term time. A Young Carers project screening tool has been developed which allows for assessment of the young carer in line with the Children and Families Act 2014 and takes a whole family approach to the needs of the young carer.

Within the school nursing team in Reading, a School Nurse Champion for Young Carers has been identified and attended training as provided by the Carers Trust. The school nurse champion for young carers is working closely with schools and the young carers service in order to raise the profile of young carers and disseminating information and training about young carers to the rest of the school nursing team.

The Young Carers Pathway was launched in 2014 as a model approach for school nursing, education, local authorities and young carers service to work together. The pathway aims to provide a visible, accessible and confidential service for young carers, promoting partnership working and thereby promoting positive physical and emotional wellbeing for young carers. As school nursing teams are in a unique position to be able to offer support to young carers, the Department of Health has been training School Nurse Champions for Young Carers.

The Carers Trust and The Children's Society Young Carers in Focus partners have jointly developed the Young Carers in Schools initiative across England, aiming to equip schools to support young carers and then awarding good practice. The step by step guide helps schools to identify and support young carers and the expert regional networks.

What is this telling us?

Child poverty

While Reading appears to have a similar proportion of children living in poverty as the national average and slightly higher than its neighbouring localities, analysis of data at ward, LSOA and school level suggest considerable differences amongst the local population and highlights areas around Whitley ward, Amersham Road, Northumberland Avenue, and Oxford Road where children appear to be much more likely to be living in poverty than elsewhere in the borough.

Looked After Children

The number of looked after children and young people can vary from month to month, as children and young people move in and out of the system. Younger children are more likely to become LAC as they are very vulnerable and need to be removed while the assessment process is undertaken (they can be placed with other family members). This enables more time for the social worker to work and assess the family and their behaviours as a whole.

In March 2015, only 27% of LAC were in Reading Borough Council placements, excluding Family and Friends. The use of Fostering Agencies over the same period was 37%.

As at the 31st March 2015, comparing the rate of LAC per 10,000 of the population, Reading was at the same rate as its statistical Neighbours and the England average (60 per 10,000), however this is higher than the South East rate which sat at 48.2 per 10,000.


There is a need to develop a clearer more robust and well co-ordinated strategy for Reading to address NEET. This needs to include:

  • A focus on building links with the local labour market at a strategic level to simplify and encourage opportunities for employees to work with young people and engage local employers in strategy development. The development of the City Deal will drive this.
  • Communication processes to improve opportunities for NEET young people, raise awareness of the local offer, identify links between initiatives for vulnerable young people; enterprise development and employer support and involve local Information Advice and Guidance in schools.
  • The development of an employment and skills gateway to create skills and opportunities for 16-24 year olds including a one stop shop for young people.
  • A clear plan of the best practice approaches to address the needs of the three distinct sub-categories of NEET young people.
  • A distinct plan to engage and reengage the long term NEET and those with entrenched barriers.

There is a significant level of service and activity that will benefit from improved co- ordination. This combined with more robust outcomes focused delivery and monitoring will enable a more cohesive approach to improving EET and needs to be reflected in the strategy.

Young Carers

The young and young adult carers are distributed differently across Reading than older carers. This may have consequences for service provision. While most young carers are providing between 1-19 hours of unpaid care a week, over 10% are providing a high level of care (50+ hours a week). Young carers in Reading show a marked increase in poor health when compared to young people who are not providing unpaid care.

What are the key inequalities?

Child poverty

Reading Borough is characterised by extremes of wealth and poverty in a small geographic area and widely varying outcomes in terms of educational achievement, income, life expectancy, health and well-being and exposure to criminal activity. In many cases these impacts are inter-generational resulting in a cycle of deprivation passing from parents to children. Poverty is a key driver of these cycles and high levels of child poverty are a key consequence.

Looked after Children

The Looked After Children's Sufficiency Statement Strategy 2015-2017 demonstrates how RBC plans to take steps that secure, as far as reasonably practicable, sufficient accommodation within the local authority area which meets the needs of children that the local authority is looking after. The lack of local placements in the Reading Borough Council area is demonstrated by the fact 33% of Looked After Children are placed more than 20 miles away from their home address. Whilst this may be a positive reason (such as children in adoptive placements or in specialist residential settings) this overall percentage figure is too high and must be reduced.

It is important that children and young people live locally so that they can remain in contact with their family and community and retain stability in education provision and receive local health services.


There are specific cohorts of young people who are more likely to become NEET. In Reading:

  • The numbers fluctuate, but over 40% of teenage parents were NEET in Reading during 2012/13.
  • The target for young people with Learning Difficulties or Disabilities (LDD) to Education, Employment or Training (EET) ages 16-24 is 70%. The figure in Reading has consistently exceeded in 80%.
  • There are disproportionately high percentages of young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in Whitley, Church and Abbey Wards. In May 2013, 17% of the NEET cohort resided in Reading.
  • The BME / NEET data has not shown consistent themes in the last two years.
  • The tendency is for white young men and Black and White Caribbean young men to be overrepresented in the NEET Cohort.

What are the unmet needs / service gaps?

Child poverty

The risks of poverty, material deprivation and wider disadvantage are much higher in families where no one works. For a child in a workless household, the risk of being in relative poverty (59%) is far higher than the risk for children in families where all adults work (8%) (Child Poverty Needs Assessment Toolkit).

Despite an unemployment rate below the national average, Reading continues to have pockets of structural unemployment in a predominantly high growth economy. This potentially puts Reading in a much stronger position to have a positive impact than many other parts of the country. This is associated with under achievement and low skill levels that also drive a more widespread issue of low income amongst the employed. So whilst work may be the best route out of poverty it is not of itself necessarily sufficient.

Of particular concern in the current climate are opportunities for young people and the prospects for lone parents.


The monitoring of outcomes for young care leavers and young carers needs to be improved. Recent measures to improve the sharing of information and links between the Local Authority and Adviza for these 2 cohorts are seeking to address this.

Young Carers

The Family Action Report in 2012 "Be Bothered! Making education count for young carers" highlighted gaps in awareness and recognition of the extra needs of young carers at school with only 44% of responding teachers stating their school did an adequate or good job supporting young carers. In addition, 49% of young carers stated that their school work had been affected by being a young carer. Identification is key as without the appropriate support, young carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level that their peers and are more likely than the national average to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) between the ages of 16 and 19 years (Hidden from View, 2013).

This section links to the following sections in the JSNA:

Deprivation by Ward and Lower Super Output Area



Safeguarding children


All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) (2016). Inquiry: Child Poverty and Health - the impact of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015-16. [Online]/ Available at:

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) (2015). The English Indices of Deprivation. (DCLG). Available at: [Accessed 21 December 2015]

Department for Education (DfE) (2015).  Working together to safeguard children

A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. [Online]. Available at:

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (2015). Press release: Government to strengthen child poverty measure. Available at:

Freer M, Shiers D, Churchill D, Friel J (2010) Meeting the mental health needs of young people: a GP's perspective. In Goldie I (ed) Public Mental Health Today. A handbook (pp. 241-258). Brighton, Pavillion Publishing / Mental Health Foundation.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) (2015). Commentary accompanying the Children in Low-Income Families Measure. Available at: [Accessed 21 December 2015]

GHK Consulting (2009). Identifying effective practice in raising young people's aspirations. On behalf of the Learning and Skills Council. Available at:

HMRC (2015). Children in Low-Income Families 2013 by Local Authority. Available at: [Accessed 21 December 2015]

House of Commons Library (2014). Child Poverty Act 2010: a short guide. Available at:

Nelson, J. and O'Donnell, L. (2012). Research report. Approaches to supporting young people not in education, employment or training - a review. [Online]. Available at:

Office for Disability Issues (2014). Disability prevalence estimates 2011/12. [Online]. Available at:

Office of National Statistics (2011). Providing unpaid care may have an adverse affect on young carers' general health. [Online]. Available at:

Public Health Services for Berkshire (2015). Health needs assessment for carers across Berkshire: Reading. [Online]. Available at:

Reading Borough Council (RBC) (2015). Tackling Poverty in Reading: Needs Analysis. RBC.

Spielhofer, T., Benton, T., Evans, K., Featherstone, G., Golden, S., Nelson, J. and Smith P. (2009). Increasing Participation: Understanding Young People Who Do Not Participate in Education or Training at 16 and 17 (DCSF Research Report 072). London: DCSF.


Social mobility and child poverty commission (2015). State of the nation 2015: social mobility and child poverty in Great Britain. Available at:

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