Information

Education Outcomes for Looked After Children 2020/21

Information on attainment, leaver destinations, attendance and exclusions for school leavers in Scotland who were looked after during the 2020/21 school year.

This document is part of a collection


Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels

Headline results

  • A lower proportion of looked after children achieve the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) level relevant to their stage compared with all children across all organisers (subjects). The size of the gap between looked after children and all children varies across the different subjects.
    • In reading 48% of children looked after within the last year obtained the CfE level relevant to their stage, compared with 75% of all children
    • In writing 40% of children looked after within the last year obtained the CfE level relevant to their stage, compared with 70% of all children
    • In listening and talking 60% of children looked after within the last year obtained the CfE level relevant to their stage, compared with 83% of all children
    • In numeracy 46% of children looked after within the last year obtained the CfE level relevant to their stage, compared with 75% of all children
  • Achievement of CfE levels is lowest for those looked after at home and those looked after in residential accommodation.

This section presents data on the achievement of CfE levels for aspects of literacy (reading, writing, and listening and talking) and numeracy of the estimated 1,996 young people who were looked after at some point between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021, and who were in Primary 1, Primary 4 or Primary 7 during the 2020/21 school year. The national and local authority data used within this section covers pupils in publicly funded mainstream schools in the 32 local authorities, and one grant aided school.

Impact of COVID-19 on CfE Levels

For 2020/21 data was collected for Primary school (P1, P4 and P7) pupils only. Secondary school and special school data was not collected due to other pressures on these schools including implementation of the SQA National Qualifications Alternative Certification Model which was used to award National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers in 2021.

Comparison with CfE levels in 2018/19

Across all stages and organisers, the percentage of Primary 1, Primary 4 and Primary 7 children who achieved the CfE level relevant to their stage fell or stayed the same between 2018/19 and 2020/21 - for both children looked after within the last year, and all pupils (table 5.3).

For primary 1 pupils, the gap between the percentage of children look after in the last year who achieved the CfE level relevant to their stage and all pupils increased across all curriculum organisers between 2018/19 and 2020/21.

The opposite was true for Primary 4 and Primary 7 pupils, where the percentage point difference in achievement between children looked after in the last year and all pupils narrowed between 2018/19 and 2020/21.

Table 5.3: Percentage of Primary 1, Primary 4 and Primary 7 children who were looked after within the last year achieving the CfE level relevant to their stage, by curriculum organiser, 2018/19 - 2020/21
Primary 1 2018/19 2020/21
  All looked after in the last year All pupils All looked after in the last year All pupils
Reading 59 82 54 77
Writing 55 79 49 74
Listening & Talking 72 87 65 84
Numeracy 67 85 59 81
Primary 4 2018/19 2020/21
  All looked after in the last year All pupils All looked after in the last year All pupils
Reading 49 78 47 73
Writing 37 73 37 67
Listening & Talking 64 85 62 82
Numeracy 46 77 42 72
Primary 7 2018/19 2020/21
  All looked after in the last year All pupils All looked after in the last year All pupils
Reading 48 80 45 76
Writing 38 74 38 69
Listening & Talking 59 86 56 82
Numeracy 42 76 40 72

Stage

Chart 6: Percentage of those who were looked after and all pupils achieving the CfE level relevant to their stage (1), by stage, 2020/21
Chart 6 shows the percentage of children who achieved the certificate for excellence level relevant to their stage, by children looked after within the year, and for all children. There is one chart for each of the 3 stages included in this year’s publication: P1, P4 and P7.

(1) See background notes for information regarding the CfE levels relevant to a pupil's stage.

Across all stages and organisers, a lower proportion of children who were looked after within the year achieved the CfE level relevant to their stage compared with all pupils (Chart 6).

The proportion of children looked after within the year achieving the CfE level relevant for their stage is highest for listening and talking at all stages, and lowest for writing across all primary stages. This is also the case for all pupils, although with a higher proportion achieving the level relevant to their stage.

The gap between all pupils and those who were looked after within the year is lowest amongst P1 pupils (Early Level), with gap across the four organisers ranging from 19 to 25 percentage points. The gap was highest for P7 (First Level), where the gap ranges from 26 to 32 percentage points.

Type of placement

Achievement of CfE levels varies across the types of accommodation in which looked after children are placed. Generally, a higher proportion of pupils looked after within the year who lived in other community accommodation (including with prospective adopters) achieved the CfE level relevant to their stage across most organisers than in other placement types. (Table 5.1).

A lower proportion of pupils at home with parents achieved the CfE level relevant to their stage compared with all pupils looked after within the last year.

Table 5.1: Percentage of Primary 1, Primary 4, Primary 7 and Secondary 3 children who were looked after within the last year achieving the CfE level relevant to their stage (1), by accommodation type, 2020/21 (2)
Accommodation type Reading Writing Listening & Talking Numeracy
In the community (children with one placement)
At home with parents 44 38 57 43
With friends or relatives 51 42 62 48
With foster carers provided by LA 47 38 57 44
With foster carers purchased by LA 48 41 70 49
In other community(3) 74 68 84 68
Residential Accommodation (children with one placement)
In local authority home * * * *
In voluntary home 50 50 50 0
In other residential(4) * * * *
More than one placement 49 42 62 47
All looked after within the last year 48 40 60 46

(1) See background notes for information regarding the CfE levels relevant to a pupil's stage.

(2) Cells containing * represent small numbers that have been suppressed to maintain confidentiality.

(3) Includes supported accommodation and with prospective adopters.

(4) Includes in residential school, in secure care accommodation, and crisis care.

Number of placements

A higher proportion of pupils looked after within the year who had two placements over the year achieved the CfE level relevant to their stage than those with 1 and 3 or more placements (Table 5.2). This pattern was consistent across all curriculum organisers.

Table 5.2: Percentage of Primary 1, Primary 4, Primary 7 and Secondary 3 children who were looked after within the last year achieving the CfE level relevant to their stage (1), by number of placements 2018/19
Number of placements Reading Writing Listening & Talking Numeracy
1 48 40 60 46
2 50 44 63 47
3 or more 47 34 57 47
All looked after within the last year 48 40 60 46

(1) See background notes for information regarding the CfE levels relevant to a pupil's stage.

Contact

Email: children.statistics@gov.scot

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