Publication - Statistics publication

Education outcomes for looked after children: 2014-2015

Published: 22 Jun 2016

This publication links school and social work data to present information on the attainment, post-school destinations of looked after young people who leave school, and the school attendance and exclusion rates of all looked after children.

38 page PDF

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38 page PDF

1.0 MB

Education outcomes for looked after children: 2014-2015
Background notes

38 page PDF

1.0 MB

Background notes

1. Sources and coverage

1.1 This document summarises the education outcomes of Scotland's looked after children. It links information from:

  • the Children Looked After statistics 2014/15
  • Pupil Census records 2014
  • School Leaver Initial and Follow-up Destination data, October 2015 and March 2016
  • Attainment data throughout school education
  • Attendance data 2014/15
  • Exclusion data 2014/15

Education outcome figures for all children in Scotland are available here:

1.2 The looked after children statistics were collected by Children and Families statistics team in the Scottish Government from local authorities. Demographic information on all children looked after (including the most recent data covering children who were looked after between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015) is available here:

The survey forms, data specifications and guidance notes for the data presented in this publication (and previous years' publications) can be seen at:

1.3 The qualifications data were collected by the Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA). The grade boundaries and publication schedules of this information is available here:

1.4 The leaver destinations data were collected by Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) on each young person identified as being a school leaver in September 2015 (initial destination, approximately three months after leaving school) and March 2016 (follow-up destination, approximately nine months after leaving school). The time of year that a young person leaves school can affect their destinations in these surveys, as a young person leaving school in May who starts a course in the following January could be counted as being in an other destination in the initial survey, but a positive destination in the follow-up survey.

1.5 Leaver destinations data were published in Summary Statistics for Attainment, Leaver Destinations and Healthy Living in Scotland 2016:

2. Methodology

Matching looked after children data to school outcomes

2.1 As reported in Children's Social Work Statistics 2014-15 [2] , there were 15,404 children looked after on 31 July 2015. The population used in this publication was established through the following process:

Illustration 4: Children included in this publication, looked after for the full year and part of the year 2014/15

Illustration 4: Children included in this publication, looked after for the full year and part of the year 2014/15

2.2 As Illustration 4 shows, there are many more looked after children than those matched in this publication. Children are assigned a Scottish Candidate Number when they start primary school. If a child is under five - as the majority of looked after children are - they are unlikely to have a Scottish Candidate Number. Children also might not have a Scottish Candidate Number if they have been educated at home, in an independent school, outside Scotland or have already left school.

2.3 For looked after young people in 2014/15 a total of 839 full and part year records matched with the school leavers cohort provided by Skills Development Scotland.

2.4 We estimate that the Scottish Candidate Numbers ( SCNs) provided by local authorities on the Looked After Children data return 2014/15 represented 75 per cent of the possible matched records. By imputing data from previous years from some local authorities we estimate that 79 per cent of looked after school leavers had matchable SCNs.

3. Revisions and changes

3.1 Full year/part year revision - In 2012/13 children looked after for the full year with 2 or more placements were counted as 'part year'. After consultation we counted these children as 'full year' for this publication and revised the 2012/13 data accordingly - this distinction was retained this year. There were 427 school leavers who were looked after for the entire year and 412 young people who were looked after for part of the year between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015. Where possible we have included part year data in the excel version of the tables

3.2 Historical data - All previously published data has been updated following changes to data availability and methodology, and some improved coverage of Scottish Candidate Numbers from the children looked after data collection. Data for 2009/10-2013/14 cohorts have been updated and supersede previously published figures for these years.

3.3 Change to school leaving dates - Previously published figures for 2013/14 have been revised in line with the new cohort year definition. The leaver year is now aligned with the timing of the annual pupil census - i.e. third Wednesday in September to third Tuesday in September (was previously 1 st August to 31 st July).

4. Definitions and notation

Children Looked After

4.1 Local Authorities have a responsibility to provide support to certain vulnerable young people, known as looked after children. A young person may become looked after for a number of reasons, including neglect, mental, physical or emotional abuse, parental substance misuse or poor parenting skills, complex disabilities which require specialist care, or involvement in the youth justice system. The definition of a looked after child is in section 17(6) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, as amended by Schedule 2, para 9(4) of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007.

4.2 Supervision Requirement - A children's hearing is a lay tribunal which considers and makes decisions on the welfare of the child or young person before them, taking into account all the circumstances including any offending behaviour. The hearing has to decide on the measures of supervision which are in the best interests of the child or young person. If the hearing concludes compulsory measures of supervision are necessary, it will make a Supervision Requirement which will determine the type of placement for the child. In most cases the child will continue to live at home but will be under the supervision of a social worker. In some cases the hearing will decide that the child should live away from home with relatives or other carers.

4.3 Types of placement

Community placements

  • At home with parent(s): at home with parent(s) or 'relevant person(s)' as defined in Section 93(2)(b) of the Children's (Scotland) Act 1995
  • With friends/relatives: placed with friends or relatives who are not approved foster carers. Also referred to as 'kinship care'.
  • With foster carers provided by the local authority
  • With foster carers purchased by the local authority
  • With prospective adopters
  • Other community: such as supported accommodation, hospital ( e.g. at birth)

Residential placements

  • Local authority home: in local authority children's home/hostel, local authority home/hostel for children with learning disabilities, local authority home/hostel for physically disabled children
  • Voluntary home: in voluntary children's home/hostel, in voluntary home/hostel for children with learning disabilities, in voluntary home/hostel for physically disabled children
  • Residential school: in local authority residential school (home/hostel), in voluntary residential school (home/hostel), in private school, in independent school
  • Secure accommodation
  • Crisis care: for example: in women's refuge, in local authority hostel for offenders, in voluntary hostel for offenders, in local authority hostel for drug/alcohol abusers, in voluntary hostel for drug/alcohol abusers
  • Other residential: a known residential setting but does not fit with one of the above

4.5 There is information on the process by which children come to be looked after and legislation governing this on the Scottish Government website:

School information

4.6 Scottish Candidate Number - A unique number created by the Scottish Qualifications Authority and assigned to each child by their school when then enter the Scottish School Education System (usually in Primary 1).

School leaver destinations

4.7 School leaver - A young person of school leaving age who left a publicly funded secondary school during or at the end of the school year - see note 3.3 on changes to school leaving dates. Age of school leavers was calculated as at 30 June 2015. Young people of school leaving age who left a publicly funded special school are not counted in this publication.

4.8 Post-school destinations - Destinations data collected by SDS using a combination of administrative data sharing by partners, contact centre follow up and the traditional follow up by operational staff. Full definitions are available from SDS: The broad categories for leaver destinations are:

  • Higher Education - entered University to study at degree level, or an FE/ HE college to study at HNC/ HND level.
  • Further Education - studying at a non-advanced level and are not on a school roll.
  • Training - on a training course and in receipt of an allowance.
  • Employment - employed and in receipt of payment from their employers.
  • Voluntary Work
  • Unemployed and seeking employment or training - registered with Skills Development Scotland and are known by them to be seeking employment or training.
  • Unemployed and not seeking employment or training - due to (for example) sickness, prison, pregnancy, caring for children or other dependents or taking time out.
  • Activity Agreement - an agreement between the young person and a trusted professional that the leaver will take part in a programme of learning and activity which helps them become ready for formal learning or employment.
  • Unknown - destination is not known either to Skills Development Scotland or to the school attended.

4.9 Positive destinations - includes higher education, further education, training, voluntary work ,employment and activity agreements.

5. Data Quality

5.1 This is an Official Statistics Publication. Official Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. These statistics undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. The results contained in this publication are deemed fit for purpose, but may be revised in future years where updates are made to the data This publication has not yet been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority.

5.2 There is more information on the data quality of the administrative sources underlying this publication here:

Cross- UK comparisons

5.3 Differences in the education systems of Scotland and the rest of the UK make cross- UK comparisons invalid. The most similar figures from across the UK are published here:

England -

Wales -

Northern Ireland -

5.4 Work has been undertaken between the Scottish Government and administrations from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to document clearly the differences between each administration's looked after children statistics and to scope out the feasibility and need for a comparable dataset. Further developments from this work have been published on the Scottish Government children's statistics web site at:

6. Enquiries

Please send any media enquiries to Linsey Stewart on 0131 244 3070.

The information in this publication plus additional tables are available at:

Email any requests for further analysis to

If you would like to receive notification of forthcoming statistical publications, please register your interest on the Scottish Government ScotStat website at:

Children and Families Statistics

22 June 2016