Thousands of pupils respond to Northumberland health survey

Thousands of pupils respond to Northumberland health survey

Thousands of young people have shared their views on issues such as alcohol, depression and bullying as part of a major survey by Northumberland County Council.

More than 3,500 secondary pupils at 32 schools across the county agreed to take part in the council’s Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire (HRBQ), a nationally recognised survey, which seeks to gauge the health attitudes of pupils from Years 8 and 10.

Students were given 87 questions to answer anonymously on five themes, covering a range of topics such as drugs and alcohol, diet and exercise, internet safety, and economic wellbeing.

Asked about their overall happiness, 71% said they were happy, 73% said they would confide their worries to an adult (a further 17% would think about it) and 68% felt confident in saying ‘no’ to unwanted peer pressure.

On the subject of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, the survey found that 97% of children in both age groups had never taken drugs (including legal highs); 85% had not consumed alcohol in the previous seven days (53% had never consumed it); and 82% had never smoked a cigarette.

At school, 63% of students felt encouraged to ‘make positive decisions’; 61% felt their school was preparing them well for adult life, and 80% felt their work was marked in a way that made it clear where improvements could be made.

The number of pupils engaged more than doubled on the previous survey in 2013, when 15 schools and 1,700 pupils participated, and the findings of the study showed an improvement in most areas, when compared to the previous findings.

The council says the results will be used to identify future improvements to services and focus increasingly limited resources where they will make the biggest difference to the lives of young people across Northumberland. 

Northumberland County Councillor Scott Dickinson, Chair of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “It’s very important for the council’s health and social services to hear what young people across the county have to say about these very important issues.

“We have engaged more than twice as many schools and students this time round than we did in 2013 and have collected a vast amount of data which we will need to analyse further and break down into meaningful insights.

“But the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and an improvement on what was reported in 2013. We can clearly see that we have some very committed and conscientious secondary pupils in Northumberland, who understand the value of an education, feel appreciated and supported at school, and face challenges that are fairly typical among people in these age groups.”

The findings were revealed at the latest monthly meeting of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Thursday.  

Councillor Dickinson added: “The survey has revealed some very positive attitudes among children in the two age groups - but there are clearly some areas for attention - and we will now look to use this data to see how services can be improved and resources targeted for the benefit of pupils.

“The survey is a long-term commitment to understand the needs and concerns of pupils in Northumberland. We intend to repeat the survey every two years and attract even more participants in 2017. My thanks go to every school and student who took part.”

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