Education Maintenance Allowances: 2020-21

Statistics on Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) recipients and payments made in 2020-2021.

This document is part of a collection

Appendix A: Methodology note

Data sources

For schools and activity agreements, the Scottish Government collects the data on EMAs from local authorities (the administrators of the EMA payments) and collated by SEEMiS.

For colleges, the data is collected from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), who administer, collate and validate the data.

Where analysis refers to institutions rather than schools or colleges, data from both Scottish schools and Scottish colleges have been combined to report on all Scottish institutions.


EMA is a means tested payment to young people participating in a school or college, or an activity agreement. The data included in this publication cover those who participate in the EMA programme, but not necessarily all of those who were eligible to participate.

Although measures are taken within both the school and college data to minimise the chances of more than one record being created for the same student, an element of duplication remains possible where a student moves from school into college in the same academic year. At the moment there is no reliable way of identifying such cases.


The age of recipient refers to their age as at 30th September in the year of study. Although young people cannot receive EMA until they are 16 years old, some are recorded as being 15 for this reason.

Population estimate

The population estimates are based on the National Records of Scotland's mid-year estimates. For 16-18 year olds, the estimates are obtained by ageing 13 year olds from the appropriate number of years earlier. This approach avoids the estimates being susceptible to changes in net migration (including incoming overseas students) during these ages.

Deprived areas of Scotland

Analysis of entrants from deprived areas of Scotland is based on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD).

EMA recipients from the 20% most deprived areas are those whose home address was within one of the 20% lowest ranked areas in Scotland. The SIMD is split into 6,976 small areas called Data Zones, with 20 per cent lowest ranked areas comprising of Data Zones 1 to 1,395. A process of postcode matching was undertaken to identify which Data Zones recipients belong to. In 2020-21, 99.6% of recipients were successfully matched through this process. Those recipients whose postcodes belonged to one of the 20% lowest ranked Data Zones in the SIMD are classified as entrants from deprived areas.

SIMD 2016 has been used for academic years 2016-17 to 2020-21. SIMD 2012 has been used for academic years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16. SIMD 2009 was used for all other academic years.

More information can be found at

Coverage of Spend Data

The financial figures in this publication refer to the amount spent on EMA payments only. This publication does not cover any other costs associated with the EMA programme, such as administrative costs.

Historically, a small percentage of local authority payments (estimated in previous years to be less than 0.5%) are not recorded on management information systems. As detailed in section 2, it is anticipated that there were more payments made outwith the SEEMiS systems in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years due to the impact of the COVID pandemic. These 'manual' payments are excluded from the figures presented in this publication.

Data presentation

In all tables and figures, the number of recipients has been rounded to the nearest 5. Figures on EMA spend have been rounded to the nearest pound. Unknown values are not displayed individually in tables but are included in totals. Figures may not sum to totals due to rounding and the inclusion of unknown values. Unless stated otherwise, percentages are calculated from unrounded values.



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