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Growing up

The information on this page was compiled before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has had a significant impact on many aspects of daily life.  Data and intelligence are emerging all the time about the effects of the virus and the measures taken to control its spread.  Accordingly, we will update this page as relevant information becomes available.

In the past fifty years, changes in society have brought unprecedented opportunities to our young people, but also significant new challenges.  The demands and expectations placed on children and young people have never been greater and it is estimated that 1 in 10 in the UK experience mental health problems.[1]  Going forward, globalization, technology, and climate change are set to transform the world today’s young people will inherit.

Herefordshire is home to around 35,900 young people aged under 18 - this is projected to increase to 37,000 by 2025.  Children in Herefordshire generally receive a good education, however this does not necessarily translate into social mobility.  Our children and young people are less likely to experience the well-publicised threats of knife crime and gang culture than their counterparts in Britain’s urban centres, but growing up in one of England’s most rural counties presents issues of its own. 

Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has, for example, highlighted how ‘for many children and young people, the ‘rural idyll’ of living in the countryside is far from reality. There are no cinemas, clubs, or other facilities their counterparts in urban areas take for granted. This isolation from services is often made worse by a lack of transport options and hidden poverty’.[2] 

In addition, despite relatively abundant active leisure opportunities, children in Herefordshire are no less likely to be overweight or obese than their peers in England as a whole.  The oral health of children in Herefordshire is also consistently poor compared to the rest of England.

The challenge for Herefordshire Council and its partners in the independent and voluntary sectors is to maximise the potential of our children and young people and give them all the best start in life.

[1] Mental health, NHS England.

[2] Young people, Action with Communities in Rural

Children and Young People's Quality of Life Survey 2021

During the summer term 2021, a Children and Young People’s Quality of Life Survey was carried out by the School Health Education Unit (SHEU) on behalf of the council.

Around 4,900 children and young people aged 8 to 18 years from across the county took part in the survey. This is the first time since 2009 that such a piece of primary research involving children and young people in Herefordshire has been conducted.

This survey has provided comprehensive information on a range of topics, including lifestyles and behaviour, physical and emotional health and wellbeing, feelings about belonging to school and home community, feeling safe, and things children and young people are worried about.

Results of the survey

Children's Integrated Needs Assessment

The 2019 children’s integrated needs assessment presents a broad range of information about children and young people living in Herefordshire.  

Children's Integrated Needs Assessment

Oral health

The oral health of children in Herefordshire is poor compared to the rest of England and has not changed significantly over the last ten years.  Almost a third of five year-olds have some signs of tooth decay - among the worst rates in the country.  Poor oral health is more common in the most deprived areas of the county.   

Oral health in Herefordshire

Early years

Herefordshire is performing well across a range of indicators that are known to influence the health and development of infants.  The proportion of babies with a low birth weight is significantly lower than nationally and breastfeeding rates have shown a continual increase since 2010/11.  The take up rate for childhood immunization programmes compares well with national and regional rates and the county is in the upper quartile of all local authorities for early learning goals.

Early years in Herefordshire


Children in Herefordshire generally do well throughout school compared to pupils in England as a whole.  However, there is still a significant gap across the age groups in the attainment of disadvantaged children compared to their non-disadvantaged peers. 

Education in Herefordshire

Safeguarding children

Rates of children who are looked after (LAC) by the local authority, or subject to a child protection plan (CPP) in Herefordshire are relatively high and have been for a number of years.  The chances of children and families being involved with children’s services are higher in more deprived areas of the county.  

Safeguarding children in Herefordshire