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Over 60,000 children unhappy with School in the North West, suggests new analysis from The Children's Society

ALMOST 1 in 8 10 to 15 year old children in the UK are unhappy with School, according to The Children's Society's Good Childhood Report 2022. Based on this figure, the charity estimates that across the North West 62,000 children could be unhappy with School.

The national charity conducted further analysis using findings from this year's annual Good Childhood Report, which examines the state of children's well being in the UK. The report shows that around:- 1 in 16 children (6%) aged:- 10 to 15, in the UK are unhappy with their lives, and almost:- 1 in 8 (12%), equivalent to an estimated 62,000 in the North West, are unhappy with School.

The current cost of living crisis is having a significant effect on families, with 84% of parents and carers surveyed by the charity in the North saying they were concerned about how it will affect their families in the next year. This is especially pertinent as over a third of UK parents and carers completing the survey reported that they had already struggled with the costs of School trips and uniform over the 2021.

The report also reveals that girls are significantly more unhappy with their appearance than boys, with almost 1 in 5 girls aged:- 10 to 15 in the UK (18%) the equivalent of an estimated 45,000 10 to 15 year old girls in the North West unhappy with their looks compared to:- 1 in 10 (10%) boys. This is a worrying jump for girls from:- 1 in 7 (15%) being unhappy with their appearance 10 years ago.

The Pandemic's damaging impact is laid bare, with 1 in 9 children (11%) aged 10 to 17 in the UK saying they had not coped overall with changes due to Coronavirus. This is despite many of the restrictions having been lifted when the charity's survey was undertaken. [5] Months of lost learning, facing in-person exams for the 1st time and mounting pressure could all have had a detrimental effect on children's well being, suggests The Children's Society.

Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children's Society, said:- "It is desperately worrying that children's well being is in this state of decline, with a vast number of children in the North West estimated to be unhappy with School and so many girls potentially struggling with the way they look. Right now, the negative effects of the cost of living crisis, the disruption of the Pandemic to young people's education, and the ongoing decline in children's happiness are on a collision course. School is a vital setting to influence children's well being, but they need more support, as the reality of what's facing children and the lack of a holistic response is a national scandal. We need a faster roll-out of mental health support teams in Schools alongside early support hubs in every local community and there needs to be more support for children whose families are struggling to make ends meet with free School meals available to all children on Universal Credit. There is nowhere to hide from the ensuing well-being catastrophe unless urgent action is taken."

The charity also reveals that, among children aged 10 to 15 in the UK, happiness with School and Schoolwork declined significantly with age. On average, 10 year olds rated happiness with School 8.1 out of 10, compared to 6.6 out of 10 at age 15. Happiness with School and Schoolwork was also significantly lower among children in lower income households. This is particularly relevant given the current increases in the cost of living.

One teenager the charity spoke to about the findings said:- "...A big problem with the expectations with Schoolwork, so like the amount of Schoolwork we have to do in School and outside of School. They don't take into consideration the things people actually go through, like mental health and family problems and stuff like that outside of School."

The research highlights the importance of ensuring that children feel listened to, with:- 1 in 8 (13%) 10 to 17 year olds in the UK surveyed by the charity unhappy with how much they were listened to at School.

The charity is calling for better support for Schools in the form of a faster rollout of mental health support teams to provide a listening ear if a young person needs to talk to someone, national measurement of children's well being to understand how they are feeling and know how to respond, and a widening of the eligibility criteria for free School meals to all children on Universal Credit, making sure children in struggling families avoid hunger at School.

Flash flood plans should touch on surface risks, Localis report warns

RESPONSIBILITY for tackling the growing prevalence of flash surface flooding should be gripped by central and local Government to prevent needless damage to property and human misery, the think-tank Localis has argued. In a report published today entitled:- 'Surface Tensions; working together against flash flooding' the place experts argued the connection between increased urbanisation and surface water risk demand greater coordination between the public sector, developers and wider society.

The study found the separation of roles and responsibilities for managing and forecasting the impact flood risk are fragmented between a slew of Government departments, agencies and local bodies, resulting in confusion when flooding does occur.

Of particular note, the report found that minor developments comprising 9 houses or less, infill or permitted development; are aggregating the risk of surface flooding across an area, without a legal requirement to provide sustainable drainage. Official figures for the year to June 2022 show that 35,000 dwellings received planning decisions from local authorities where more than 1 percent of homes are already at risk of flooding as part of minor developments. Given that 73% of minor development applications were approved across England in the same period, this could mean as many as 25,550 new homes built in areas that are already at risk of flash flooding, increasing pressure on infrastructure.

Among its key recommendations to reduce risk of surface flooding from climate change, Localis calls for the creation of a strong strategic planning authority with power for force national and local risk management authorities, such as the Environment Agency, Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) to work closely together and link up policy.

The report also calls for stronger collaboration between developers, landowners, LLFAs and Central Government agencies to understand and manage flood risk and resilience, and for this to be encouraged and incentives across all new developments.

Localis Visiting Fellow, Professor Samer Bagaeen, said:- "To tackle surface flooding, the next revision of the National Planning Policy Framework must require Local Plans to demonstrate how lead local flood authorities have assessed aggregate risk across the whole area, as well as how flood impacts will avoided, controlled, mitigated, and managed. And at the level of place, for infrastructure and procurements concerning flooding, lead local flood authorities should move away from human-engineered barriers and toward natural drainage systems that work to slow the flow of surface water and relieve pressure on sewers."

Joe Fyans, Localis Head Of Research, said:- "As the UK is experiencing extremely wet days; more days of heavy summer rainfall on impermeable ground as well as a significant increase in heavy winter rainfalls; we are seeing an unsurprising increase the incidence of surface water flooding. How we go about funding this will be crucial. Central Government would be best advised to pproduce a comprehensive flood infrastructure funding programme that is less restrictive and targeted toward places most at risk, while also encouraging 'bottom up' practice by streamlining the funding process for smaller, district or community based projects."

Martin Milliner, Claims Director at LV General Insurance, said:- "As an insurer we see 1st hand the very real and devastating impact flooding has on people's lives. While we know the building of more homes is necessary to combat the housing crisis, the country is becoming less resilient to more extreme weather, and we must look at the future impacts this will have on our homes. "The report highlights significant issues that continue to put an ever increasing number of communities at risk, and it's crucial that property developers, insurers and local authorities work together to tackle this important issue. With the creation of our Flood Proof Home of the Future we want to draw attention to the impact flooding could have on this country in 50 years, by showcasing the extreme features homes of the future may need to have to guard against flood risk. With the installation of such sophisticated flood proofing practically and financially out of the question for most homeowners, it's more important than ever we work to combat the problem before such extreme measures are necessary."

If you are unaware who Localis are, they are an independent think tank dedicated to issues related to politics, public service reform and localism. They carry out innovative research, hold events and facilitate an ever growing network of members to stimulate and challenge the current orthodoxy of the Governance of the UK.

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