Children and young people in Oxford to be consulted on a new strategy to improve their lives

Published: Monday, 5th March 2018

Oxford City Council will today start a consultation on a new strategy to support children and young people in Oxford.

The aim of the new strategy is to help them achieve their potential and to become happy, safe, successful, healthy and active citizens.

The  new Children and Young People’s Strategy aims to guide the work focusing on children and young people’s needs and helping them fulfil their ambitions, covering the period of 2018-2023. It covers young people in Oxford aged 0-25, and builds on and will replace the City Council’s existing Youth Ambition Strategy and Children and Young People’s Plan.

A consultation will take place from 5 March until 27 April. The City Council is inviting responses from children and young people, families, professionals working with children and young people, and partner organisations including Oxfordshire County Council and the Children’s Trust that share the responsibility for meeting the needs of Oxford’s children and young people.

Children and young people, including those who may be more disadvantaged or vulnerable because of their disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, or are unemployed, refugees, young parents or involved in the criminal justice system, will have the opportunity to shape the new strategy.

Oxford has major social inequalities. The 2015 English Indices of Deprivation, the official measure of relative deprivation, ranked Oxford 166 out of 326 local authorities districts. Compounded by a projected rise in population, young people face significant challenges to achieving economic independence, wellbeing and finding support to deal with these challenges.

A 2016 report by the YMCA, following their survey of 1,600 young people aged between 16 and 25, found that young people did not have opportunities to fulfil their potential in the education system and lacked adequate access to training and employment, affordable housing, long term financial security.

The Children and Young People’s Strategy proposes implementation of an innovative framework called ‘Ready by 21’ which will enable a structured collaboration with all of the groups that supports a young person’s journey into adulthood including:

  • schools
  • community groups
  • health providers
  • local authorities
  • families
  • young people themselves

The City Council is proposing to use a ‘zoning’ methodology, to increase the focus and impact of actions being taken. ‘Zoning’ means that we will work with partners to focus on specific areas greatest need within the city to deliver improvements in the Ready by 21 outcomes. Following discussions with partners there is consensus the first such zone should be in a triangular area that encapsulated part of East Oxford, Cowley and Blackbird Leys.

Through the Children & Young People’s Strategy, the City Council will aim to:

  • Provide excellent coordination of City Council services for young people;
  • Ensure young people are safe and secure;
  • Improve how we use our cultural services support the needs of young people;
  • Further increase effective partnership  - the City Council recognises that it is one of many organisations working with children and young people in the city and therefore;
  • Deliver a productive Cultural Education Partnership, with the support of £15,000 through external funding;
  • Ensure improved co-ordination of young people’s activities, with £500 a year for groups through a Ready 21 pilot by 2019;
  • Deliver a well-coordinated, sustainable  offer for under 5s, with £50,000 by 2020 to implement sustainable support, along with a rolling programme of £100,000;
  • Provide effectively targeted grants, with £50,000 by Summer 2018, within a £1.4million grant programme;
  • Continue to utilise the £240,000 Youth Ambition Programme budget, to support children and young people in Oxford.
  • Improve mental and sexual health;
  • Reduce childhood obesity;
  • Increase usage by young people at community centres;
  • Develop our sessions and services so they are fully accessible;
  • Maximise the benefits for young people at our leisure centres;
  • Ensure high quality delivery of activities

Although Oxfordshire County Council is the local authority which has the legal obligation and responsibility for Children’s Services to secure sufficient provision of leisure-time activities for young people’s well-being, including youth work, the City Council’s Children and Young People’s Strategy will sustain these priorities through active engagement with partners.

The City Council will continue to improve the inclusivity of our services and ensure they are accessible to all young people irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability or beliefs.

With the support of its partnerships the City Council aims to deliver universal, preventative led provision by ensuring there is a strong cultural, leisure and sport offer within the city; providing youth work, sports sessions, free swimming for under 17’s, world class play areas and holiday schemes.

Councillor Marie Tidball, Executive Board Member for Young People, Schools and Public Health said: “Oxford is a vibrant city but young people from disadvantaged circumstances are still more likely to experience fractured transitions from education to employment. That’s why we want to ensure this is a cross-cutting strategy which enables all our services to consider the outcomes to empower children and young people in our city to thrive. Listening to the voices of a diverse range of young people, and taking your views into account, will be an essential part in helping us to achieve this."

“This strategy is an exciting opportunity to respond to the many challenges faced by young people in Oxford and to make our city an even better place to live so that every child and young person can fulfil their potential and become happy, safe, successful, healthy and active citizens”


Oxford is one of the youngest, most diverse and prosperous cities in England, but it faces significant problems due to high cost of housing, and there are wide variations in health outcomes.

Below are key facts affecting children and young people in Oxford:


  • In 2011 a significant proportion of Oxford's population, 22%, have no or low qualifications;
  • The attainment levels of Oxford pupils have also been relatively poor compared to other areas in the country;
  • Between 2010 and 2014, 51% of Oxford pupils at state-funded schools obtained 5 or more A*–C grades at GCSE (including English and Maths), lower than attainment percentages of the overall county and the rest of England (59% and 58%, respectively);
  • Attainment levels at primary school were also relatively poor but have recently improved. 

Children's and young people's health

  • Oxford ranks 29 out of 55 English cities in terms of Child Poverty;
  • In Year 6 (at the end of Primary School) 20% of schoolchildren are classified as obese, which is similar to the national average;
  • Alcohol-specific hospital stays is significantly worse than the England average, with a rate of 77.1 per 100,000 in Oxford compared to 37.4 per 100,000 in England;
  • There was a high rate of under-18 conceptions in Oxford in the early 2000's, but the rate has dropped to levels similar to, or below, the England average. There are still high rates in some areas of the city. 

Poverty and Deprivation

  • According to the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation, 10 of Oxford's 83 neighbourhood areas ('Super Output Areas') are among the 20% most relatively deprived areas in England;
  • These areas, which are in the Leys, Rose Hill and Barton areas of the city, experience multiple types of relative deprivation – low skills, low incomes and relatively high levels of crime.


  • According to the 2015 English Indices of Deprivation , Oxford ranks 90 out of 326 districts on the Crime Domain;
  • Six out of 83 neighbourhoods in Oxford are amongst the 10% most deprived areas for crime levels at the national level.