Children's health and wellbeing census 21/22: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002


Information requested

A series of questions, and for information, with regards to the Health and Wellbeing Census. These are dealt with below.

What age children are targeted by the census?

You also asked for:
1) A full copy of the census.

2) A copy of the ministerial sign-off of the census.

3) A copy of senior civil service sign-off of the census.

4) A copy of the data privacy risk assessment for the census.

5) All communications with the FM and DFM on the subject of the census.

6) The precise purpose and reasoning for each question in the census – and how they relate to the provision of public services.

7) An impact assessment of completing the census on childrens immediate wellbeing

8) All assessments on how children's anonymity will be guaranteed 100%.

9) How will data quality be assessed to overcome disclosure bias (false answers)?

10) How will data quality be assessed given there is opt-out (incomplete population)?

11) Who will have access to the children's completed census forms?

Response

1) A full copy of the census.

The links below provide access to the questionnaire for each stage. These are the questionnaires as developed by the Scottish Government. As each local authority will conduct their own data collections, the survey questionnaires used locally may differ as local authorities have the flexibility to add or remove questions.

P5 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
P6 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
P7 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
S1 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
S2 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
S3 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
S4 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
S4 Substance Use questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
S5 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)
S6 questionnaire: Survey Preview Window (smartsurvey.co.uk)

2) A copy of the ministerial sign-off of the census.

Please see attachment.

3) A copy of senior civil service sign-off of the census.

The final decision to progress with the Census lies with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport.

4) A copy of the data privacy risk assessment for the census.

This is available on the Scottish Government website Health and Wellbeing Census - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

5) All communications with the FM and DFM on the subject of the census.

Please see attachment.

6) The precise purpose and reasoning for each question in the census – and how they relate to the provision of public services.

Please see attached Topics document that explains why topics and themes are included in the Census.

7) An impact assessment of completing the census on childrens immediate wellbeing.

The Health and Wellbeing Census questionnaires have been ethically approved by independent researchers within the Scottish Government. An Ethics Peer Review is an internal process by which a group of independent Social Research colleagues supports the assessment of challenging ethical issues relating to a particular social research project. Ethics Peer Review is a form of self-regulation by qualified members of the profession to maintain professional quality standards, improve performance and maintain credibility. The principles are set out in the Government Social Research ethics guidance 2021-GSR_Ethics_Guidance_v3.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk). The process applies to the survey as a whole, rather than for individual questions.

Surveys like this are not new and play a crucial role in ensuring children and young people have access to the help, advice and services they need. The Health Behaviours in School‑aged Children (HBSC) survey, that has run since 1990, has included questions on a range of health and wellbeing topics, including sexual health and wellbeing; substance use, alcohol consumption and smoking. Also, the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle & Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) has also provided a national picture of young peoples’ behaviours in relation to smoking (from 1982), drinking (from 1990) and drug use (from 1998). Such issues are routinely also included in pupil surveys in other countries across Europe, including in England and Wales.

8) All assessments on how children's anonymity will be guaranteed 100%.


The lawful basis being used for the Census to be undertaken is that the information is to be used for statistical and research purposes as part of a public task. To comply with this, any results of the research or resulting statistics are not to be made available in a form which identifies individual children and young people. However, as with any situation involving children and young people, if welfare concerns, such as abuse or harm to young people, are identified, local authorities are breach such confidentiality in order to safeguard the young person. This is common ethical practice when undertaking surveys/research involving children and young people. However, the questionnaires have been specially designed to minimise the need for this to occur.

Parents/carers and children and young people are informed of this in advance of any child or young person taking part in the Census, so that they can decide to not to take part in the Census because of this condition. Also, if children and young people do take part in the Census then they can skip any question they don’t wish to answer or state that they would “prefer not to say”.

9) How will data quality be assessed to overcome disclosure bias (false answers)?

Data quality will be considered and discussed when the data becomes available. It is not unusual in data collections that there is a level of trust required from participants, and analysis of any potential biases will be taken into consideration once in receipt of the data. The Code of Practice for Statistics sets the standards that producers of official statistics should commit to, any statistics from the Census will be released in accordance with the Code.

10) How will data quality be assessed given there is opt-out (incomplete population)?

It is commonplace in data collections that there is a level of non-response. As standard with Scottish Government analysis, analysis of non-response will be taken into consideration once in receipt of the data. The Code of Practice for Statistics sets the standards that producers of official statistics should commit to, any statistics from the Census will be released in accordance with the Code.

11) Who will have access to the children's completed census forms?

The census is a digital survey, completed on an online platform, being undertaken by each local authority. Each local authority's DPIA will provide further detail on their security arrangements. The Scottish Government acts as the local authority Data Processor and SmartSurvey Ltd. acts as the local authority sub-processor.

When local authorities share their data with Scottish Government, in compliance with the Data Sharing agreement, the Scottish Government will become the Data Controller for any data shared. Security arrangements in place detail who within Scottish Government has access to the individual level data. This is published at Health and Wellbeing Census - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) s.29(1)(c), s.30(a), s.30(b)(i), s.30(b)(ii), s.33(1)(b), and s.38(1)(b).

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

FOI - 202100260600 - Information Released - Annex A

FOI - 202100260600 - Information Released - Annex B

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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