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Summary: Age and Children & Families

Playing ChildrenSummary: Age and Children and Families

  • In June 2014 there were 1,031,761 children (under 18 years old) in Scotland. Of this, 227,497 children were aged 0-3 years and 528,254 children were aged 0-8 years.

Source: National Records of Scotland

  • At 31 July 2016, there were 15,317 looked after children - a decrease of 83 (or less than one per cent) from 2015. This is the fourth consecutive year the numbers have decreased following a peak of 16,248 in 2012, although this year's decline is small, numbers in care are stabilising. The amount of care leavers each year has been consistently more than the amount starting, although both numbers have also been declining.
  • There were 4,198 children who started to be looked after during 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 – the lowest figure since 2005. Table 1.3 shows a two per cent decrease from 2014 (4,295) and a 14 per cent decrease from 2010 (4,859).Over the last 10 years children have started to be looked after at younger ages. In 2005, 29 per cent of children starting to be looked after were aged under five. By 2016 this had risen to 38 per cent. The figures have been broadly steady since 2011. A large proportion of this group are the under-one year olds, and the numbers in this youngest group have almost doubled since 2005, but are also mostly static since 2011. There was a corresponding decrease in the proportion of children aged 12+ being looked after (those aged 5-11 remained flat).

  • There were an average of 85 residents in secure care accommodation throughout 2015-16, an increase of four per cent from 82 residents in the previous year and reversing the recent downward trend. However, this increase was driven by an increase in placements from the rest of the UK - there was a five per cent decline in residents from Scotland. 61% of residents were under 16, and 10% were 13 years old or younger.

  • The number of children on the child protection register has fluctuated regularly, but there is a general upwards trend. The total has increased by 33 per cent between 2000 and 2016 (from 2,050 to 2,723). The number of children registered in 2016 is below 2014's historic high; it has fallen 4 per cent since last year.

  •  Number of children starting to be looked after by age

    Table 1.3: Number of children starting to be looked after by age

    Over the last 10 years children have started to be looked after at younger ages.

Sources: Scottish Government, Children's Social Work Statistics publication

  • Looked after children tend to have lower levels of educational attainment than non-looked after children. These differences are, in part, linked to the fact that looked after children tend to leave school at younger ages. In 2014/15 almost three quarters (73 per cent) of looked after school leavers were aged 16 and under (i.e. they left school at the earliest point they could) compared to over one quarter (27 per cent) of school leavers more generally. The proportion of leavers who were aged 16 and under has improved since 2009/10, including among looked after leavers, but discrepancies between looked after leavers and other leavers remain consistent.


Source: Scottish Government, Education outcomes for Scotland's looked after children

  • In September 2017 there were 95839 registrations for ELC local authority funded places. This is a decrease of 1,068 compared to 2016 registrations for ELC in Scotland.  Eligible children are estimated from mid-year population estimates. As children may be counted more than once if they are registered to receive local authority funded ELC at more than one centre this figure will overestimate true uptake.

Source: Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland

Useful Links

Age page

Children and Families page

National Performance framework

National Performance Framework

Fifty National Indicators enable progress towards the achievement of the National Outcomes and ultimately the delivery of the Purpose to be tracked.

Indicators are chosen to show how the Scottish Government are progressing on the range of Outcomes. Equality breakdowns illustrate how protected groups are progressing towards achievement of the National Outcomes, particularly ‘we have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society’.

National Indicator number 17: Increase the proportion of healthy weight children, data tables

- progress against this National Indicator, broken down by Age, can be found under the 'What more do we know about the National indicator?' heading.

Publications and Outputs