Education outcomes for looked after children 2017-2018

Information on attainment, destinations of school leavers and achievement of curriculum for excellence levels for looked after children in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection


Local authorities have a responsibility to provide support to a group of vulnerable young people, known as ‘looked after children’. A young person may become looked after for a number of reasons, including neglect, abuse, complex disabilities which require specialist care, or involvement in the youth justice system.

This publication links school and social work data to present information on school leaver attainment and the post-school destinations of looked after young people who left school in 2017/18. This year school attendance and exclusion rates are not included as they are only included every other year, and will next be collected in 2018/19 and reported in 2020.

This publication also includes experimental statistics on achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels for looked after children and young people, on which data was published for the wider school population in December 2018.

Who are counted in these figures?

This publication reports on the education outcomes of school-age children who were looked after by all local authorities in Scotland, except Glasgow City, at any point between August 2017 to July 2018 and had a recorded Scottish Candidate Number available. The figures also include children looked after in Glasgow City at any point between August 2016 and July 2017 and had a recorded Scottish Candidate Number. Further information on this approach to reporting is available in the Coverage section. For ease of reporting, the period referred to in the rest of the document will be August 2017 to July 2018 for all looked after children, including those from Glasgow City.

The first two chapters of this publication give information on the education outcomes and post-school destinations of the estimated 999 young people who were looked after at any point between August 2017 to July 2018 and who were in the 2017/18 school leaver cohort. These looked after children represent two per cent of the 49,748 2017/18 school leavers. The final two chapters focus on the achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels across four year groups of 3,745 young people who were looked after at some point during 2017/18.

The figures presented here are a subset of the population of looked after children in Scotland. This is because the data on looked after children needs to be linked to schools data from publically-funded schools. Not all looked after children can be successfully linked to the schools data for a variety of reasons. For successful linking to occur, the Scottish Candidate Number of the child is needed to obtain data on their education outcomes. A Scottish Candidate Number is usually assigned to a child when they begin school. Therefore looked after children of pre-school age are excluded from the analysis presented in this publication. Some school-age looked after children also have missing Scottish Candidate Numbers in the data provided to Scottish Government by local authorities. Therefore, these children are also excluded from the figures. More information on this is available in the background notes.


Data for Children Looked After was collected for the period 1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018 from all local authorities in Scotland, except from Glasgow City. To estimate national figures for 2017/18, the 2016/17 figures for Glasgow City have been used along with the 2017/18 figures for all other local authorities. This is in line with the approach taken in the Children’s Social Work Statistics 2017/18 publication, which was released on 26 March 2019.

The 2016/17 education outcomes data has also been used for the children looked after in 2016/17 in Glasgow City. Further information on the impact of using 2016/17 data for Glasgow City is available in the Background Notes.

Scottish Government officials are currently working with Glasgow City to secure the Children Looked After return for 2017/18. If the return is provided to Scottish Government, then this publication will be updated to include the data from Glasgow City.



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