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UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention - Fifth periodic reports of States parties due in 2014 - United Kingdom

March 2015

3. There have been significant improvements in children’s outcomes in the following areas:

(a) Deaths of children aged under 19 in England and Wales fell by 15.3 per cent between 2007 and 2012;

(b) The infant mortality rate fell by 10.6 per cent in England and Wales, 12.7 per cent in Scotland and 12.2 per cent in N. Ireland between 2007 and 2011;

(c) The under-18 conception rate fell by 32.9 per cent in England and Wales and 12.6 per cent in Scotland between 2007 and 2012. The number of live births to under- 18s in N. Ireland fell by 27 per cent between 2008 and 2012;

(d) The proportion of children in England aged 11–15 who had taken drugs in the previous year fell from 15 per cent in 2008 to 12 per cent in 2012;

(e) The proportion of children in England aged 11–15 who had drunk alcohol in the previous week fell from 18 per cent in 2008 to 10 per cent in 2012;

(f) Children’s educational attainment is improving. In England, the percentage attaining 5 GCSEs at grades A*–C increased from 65.3 per cent in 2007/08, to 81.8 per cent in 2011/12; those achieving 5 GCSEs including both English and Maths increased from 47.6 per cent in 2007/08, to 59.4 per cent in 2011/12. Pass rates in Scotland increased for all major qualifications including final year of results in Standard Grades. Higher pass rates were up from 72.9 per cent in 2006 to 77.4 per cent in 2013;

(g) The number of children permanently excluded from school fell by 36 per cent in England and by 58 per cent in Wales between 2007/08 and 2011/12. Exclusion from Scottish schools decreased by 40 per cent;

(h) 3,980 children were adopted in 2012–13, up 15 per cent from 2012 and the highest number of adoptions since the current data collections began in 1992;

(i) The number of first time entrants to the criminal justice system in England and Wales fell by 63 per cent between 2008 and 2012. The number of under-18s convicted in Scottish courts fell by 53 per cent;

(j) The average number of children in custody fell by 33 per cent in England and Wales; and by 42 per cent in Scotland between 2007/08 and 2011/12;

(k) The number of Scottish children referred to the Children’s Reporter has dropped by 33.1 per cent since 2008/09 and is at its lowest level since 2002/03.

4. The above represents good progress in some key areas. However, we are concerned about other data which show significant differences in the outcomes of children from different backgrounds, or which appear to show that aspects of children’s lives have got worse. For example:

(a) The number of children in England who were subject to a child protection plan increased by 47 per cent between 2008 and 2012; and numbers of children on child protection registers increased in Wales (+17.5 per cent), Scotland (+23 per cent) and N. Ireland (+2.7 per cent). These increases may be due to better identification of children at risk, rather than because more children are being harmed;

(b) There remain significant gaps in educational attainment: in England only 36.8 per cent of children eligible for free school meals achieved 5 GCSEs (including English and Maths) at A*–C grades in 2011/12, compared to 63 per cent of all other children. The comparable figures for N. Ireland were 34.1 per cent and 67.9 per cent;

(c) A significant proportion (4.5 per cent) of 16 and 17 year olds across the UK were not in education, employment or training in Oct–Dec 2013 – although this has fallen from 6.2 per cent in Apr–June 2012; and 4.9 per cent in Apr–Jun 2013.

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Related Resources:

1)  United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child - Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

2) Report of the Children's commissioners of the United kingdom of GB and NI to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child - Examination of the Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports of the UK and NI