Health and Wellbeing Census for children: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. Please provide a list of all the people who were responsible for choosing the questions to ask in the Heath & Well-being Census for children. Specifically the questions in the image you provided.

2. Provide a copy of the minutes of all the meetings where the above questions were discussed, including a list of all those in attendance.

3. Were local authorities consulted? If not, why not as they would be responsible for the roll out?

4. It is claimed the census is anonymous, so why the need for a SQA number? It’s not anonymous, as that number identifies the child.

5. Did those responsible for the questions have a PVG certificate and clearance? If not, why not?


1. The Content Group consisted of representation from: Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland (now Public Health Scotland), University of Glasgow (formerly University of St Andrews), Glasgow City Health & Social Care Partnership, Education Scotland, Perth & Kinross Council, Falkirk Council, MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, an Independent consultant, South Lanarkshire Council, NHS National Services Scotland, Education Institute of Scotland (EIS), Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland (AHDS), and ScotCen Social Research. There was also representation from 2 schools. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board provided an advisory role rather than a formal member of the Content Group.

An exemption(s) under section(s) s.38(1)] of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. The personal names of members of the Content Group have been removed.

The questions you included in your reply were not those that had been compiled by the Content Group, and the source of those questions is not known. The actual questionnaire created for Secondary 4 (S4) pupils by the Content Group can be seen here: Survey Preview Window ( However, it is worth noting that each local authority may have made some changes to this to suit their own circumstance.

2. Notes and minutes of the Content Group were either not taken or have not been stored on local systems. Please see the list of organisations above as to who was involved in discussing and agreeing the overall content of the Census.

3. As you can see above, Local authorities were represented on the Content Group. Furthermore, the Scottish Government has worked very closely with all 32 local authorities in supporting the roll-out of the Census in their local area.

4. The Scottish Government does not claim that the Census is anonymous. It does, however, claim that what children and young people say will be said in confidence and that individual children and young people will remain unidentifiable from any published results. The purpose of the Census is for statistics and research purposes. Asking children and young people to enter their Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) is needed for this purpose. However, local authorities do have access to the names of children and young people linked to their SCN on a separate management information system. Therefore, 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 permitted (if necessary) to share information in order to safeguard the young person. This is common ethical practice when undertaking surveys/research involving children and young people. 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”. Please be aware that the Scottish Government does not have access to the names of individual pupils.

5. Only a small number of individual staff within each local authority will have access to the responses provided by children and young people in the Census, and be able to actually identify an individual based on their SCN by accessing a separate management information system which holds this information. No other persons (e.g. Scottish Government analysts) who will have access to the individual responses provided by children and young people would be able to do this, as they do not have access to any systems that stores the names of individual pupils. Also, analysts are required to comply with rules and regulations that are set out for when processing individual level data for statistics and research purposes.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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