This report presents headline findings, key socio-demographic breakdowns and time series data, where available, based on the set of 21 Core Wellbeing Indicators which forms part of Scotland’s Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework. This report establishes an initial baseline, against which progress can be measured in future years, and provides a benchmark national picture of the current status of wellbeing of children, young people and families in Scotland. Children’s Services Plans and annual reports will incorporate these indicators at local level, as data becomes available over time.
The indicators provide a high-level overview of the current status of wellbeing, which is aligned to the holistic definition set out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and Getting It Right for Every Child, Scotland’s national policy and practice approach. This recognises that children and young people’s individual development takes place in the context of their caregiving environment and family networks, which in turn are influenced by community impacts and societal factors (as expressed in the ‘My World Triangle’).
Together with the views of children and young people, and deep-dive data which considers specific aspects of wellbeing in more detail, the core wellbeing indicators can be used as part of the evidence base informing policy and service developments at both national and local levels.
Data for the indicators is drawn from a range of previously published administrative and survey sources which provide data at both national and local level. 12 of the indicators are drawn from the Health and Wellbeing Census (HWB Census) which is a new data collection that was undertaken by 16 local authorities in 2021-22. While figures in this report are aggregated results for those areas who collected data only, the statistics can generally be treated as providing a national picture as the sample of respondents reflected the population by sex and deprivation (SIMD). Scottish Government is working closely with stakeholders to expand the Census’ coverage in future years.
Summary of indicator statistics
Looking across the Core Wellbeing Indicators, the data shows that the majority of children and young people in Scotland have broadly positive experiences across all specified aspects of wellbeing, although for many indicators there were substantial minorities not achieving positive outcomes.
Outcomes were broadly positive around attainment. 71% of primary school pupils in P1, P4 and P7 achieved the expected Curriculum for Excellence levels in Literacy, and 78% in numeracy, and a very large percentage (94%) of school leavers were in positive destinations, which follows an upward trend in recent years.
Other areas showing good outcomes were peer relationships, where 84% children and young people in P5 to S3 agreed that their friends treat them well and participation in positive leisure activities among those in S1 to S3 which was high at 78%.
A more mixed picture was found in relation to some indictors. Looking at child development, while 82% of children had no developmental concerns at their 27-30 month review, the percentage that had developmental concerns has increased over recent years to 18% in 2021-22.
Similarly, while the majority of children and young people in P5 to S6 held positive perceptions of their local area, a notable minority did not. 87% said they felt safe in their area almost or most of the time, with 11% saying they felt only sometimes, rarely or never safe in their area. Two thirds said that their area was a good place to live, leaving a third who did not.
Relationships with adults also showed a mixed picture. 67% of children and young people in P5 to S6 said they always have a trusted adult in their life, leaving around a third who did not.
There are a number of areas where there is scope for substantial improvement. In terms of health behaviours, only 59% of children and young people in P5 to S6 met recommended physical activity levels and just 22% said they eat both fruit and vegetables every day.
In terms of mental health and mental wellbeing, almost half of children and young people in P5 to S6 had a Slightly Raised, High, or Very High Strength and Difficulties (SDQ) score, suggesting the presence of emotional or developmental issues. Almost a third of children and young people had experienced bullying in the last year, and only 57% felt that adults take their views into account when making decisions that affected them.
There were also substantial levels of economic hardship, with almost a quarter of children living in relative poverty after housing costs and an increasing number of families living in temporary accommodation.
Key socio-demographic patterns
There were a wide range of complex differences in children and young people’s outcomes by socio-demographic and area characteristics, which were specific to each core wellbeing indicator. These are set out in the main body of this report. However, a number of patterns were identified when looking across the indicators as a whole.
There was substantial variation by area deprivation, as measured by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, with children living in the 20% least deprived areas displaying substantially better outcomes than those in the 20% most deprived areas. This pattern was consistent across all indicators relating to child development, attainment, mental health, physical health and area perceptions.
Large differences in outcomes by sex were also found across a number of indicators, although the picture was more complex. Outcomes were better for girls in pre-school child development and literacy; whereas outcomes were better for boys for both mental health measures, physical activity, participation in positive leisure activities, having a trusted adult and perception of adults taking their views into account.
Children and young people with a long term health condition or disability had substantially worse outcomes than others in terms of peer relationships, bullying, having a trusted adult and perceptions of adults taking their views into account. Households with a disabled person (adult or child) were also substantially more likely to experience child poverty.
Looking across the Core Wellbeing Indicators, the data shows that the majority of children and young people in Scotland have broadly positive experiences across all specified aspects of wellbeing, although for many indicators there were substantial minorities not achieving positive outcomes. Gaps in wellbeing outcomes between different socio-demographic groups were also widely found.
The time period during which the data collection on which this report draws took place, will inevitably reflect how the COVID-19 Pandemic and cost of living crisis have impacted on the lived experiences of children, young people and families across Scotland. This has affected all children and young people, but is recognised to have disproportionately affected those facing inequalities or with vulnerabilities.
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