Publication - Statistics

School healthy living survey: statistics 2019

Published: 9 Sep 2019
Directorate:
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education, Statistics
ISBN:
9781839601323

Information from an annual survey carried out in February each year of all publicly funded schools in Scotland on registration for free school meals, uptake of school meals (both free and paid for) and PE.

17 page PDF

501.9 kB

17 page PDF

501.9 kB

Contents
School healthy living survey: statistics 2019
Chapter 1: School meals

17 page PDF

501.9 kB

Chapter 1: School meals

Background

In 2012, a new Healthy Living Survey (HLS) was introduced which incorporated the old school meals survey and new questions on Physical Education.  This is an annual survey, normally collected in February each year, from all publicly funded schools in Scotland.  The school meal part of this survey collects information on the uptake of meals, both free and paid for, and registration for free school meals.  Only meals taken at lunchtime are included, breakfast clubs are not included.  The survey reported on here was conducted in the week beginning 18 February 2019. 

Information on levels of free school meal registration and school meal uptake is used to monitor the impact of Scottish Government policies on reducing deprivation and promoting healthy eating.  In January 2015, the Government extended free school meal eligibility to include all children in primary 1-3.[1]

Free school meals as a measure of deprivation

As the national criteria for free school meal eligibility is largely based on the receipt of benefits, statistics on free school meal registrations from the Healthy Living Survey have been used as a measure of deprivation.  However, several factors need to be taken into account when using the statistics in this way, particularly for primary and special schools where a substantial proportion of those registered qualify through non-benefits based criteria.  See background notes for more information on the use of these statistics as a measure of deprivation. 

An alternative to using the percentage of pupils registered for free school meals as a measure of deprivation, are statistics on the percentage of pupils in each school who live in the 20 per cent most deprived data zones in Scotland, available in the school contact list.

Key Findings

Chart 1: Percentage of pupils registered for free school meals by sector, 2015 to 2019

Chart 1: Percentage of pupils registered for free school meals by sector, 2015 to 2019

In 2019, 38.0 per cent of the total school roll was registered for free school meals. This is slightly higher than the 37.4 per cent registered in 2018 and represents the reversal of the previous downward trend in free school meal registration rates. Free school meal registration rates are affected by the economic circumstances of pupils and their parents, and also changes to the eligibility criteria. The most influential changes to eligibility criteria since 2015 have been the increased proportion of special schools reporting 100% registration and the introduction of universal eligibility to all P4 pupils in Glasgow City in August 2018.

Chart 2: Percentage of pupils present taking school meals, 2019

Chart 2: Percentage of pupils present taking school meals, 2019

The percentage of registered P4-7 pupils present on the survey day who took a free school meal decreased from 84.9 per cent in 2018 to 79.9 per cent in 2019.

The percentage of pupils present on the survey day who took a meal (free or paid for) supplied by the school decreased from 55.6 per cent in 2018 to 54.5 per cent in 2019.

Additional data

School meals data by Urban Rural classification, size of school and local authority are available in the supplementary tables.  School level information on school meals is also available.

Table 1a: Number and percentage of pupils taking school meals (free or paid for) and registered for and taking free school meals by sector, 2014 to 2019

Number
2014a 2015b,c 2016 2017 2018d,f 2019e,f
Pupils registered for free meals
Primary 77,791 213,199 212,175 212,235 210,906 214,353
Secondary 44,224 41,744 39,280 38,841 39,511 41,881
Special 4,373 4,498 3,681 4,155 4,506 4,608
Total 126,388 259,441 255,136 255,231 254,923 260,842
Pupils registered and present taking free meals
Primary 63,986 162,799 166,454 165,027 160,323 160,539
Secondary 27,739 26,264 24,811 23,911 23,937 24,287
Special 3,719 3,607 2,899 3,418 3,466 3,448
Total 95,444 192,670 194,164 192,356 187,726 188,274
Pupils present and taking meals (free or paid for)
Primary 192,666 237,404 246,821 246,162 237,315 230,271
Secondary 115,150 111,562 114,586 110,288 110,364 112,722
Special 5,206 4,875 4,511 4,375 4,663 4,371
Total 313,022 353,841 365,918 360,825 352,342 347,364
Percentage
2014a 2015b,c 2016 2017 2018d,f 2019e,f
Pupils registered for free meals
Primary 20.6 55.3 54.1 53.4 52.7 53.5
Secondary 15.5 15.0 14.2 14.1 14.4 15.0
Special 60.7 63.0 55.7 66.2 66.1 66.9
Total 18.8 38.7 37.8 37.6 37.4 38.0
Pupils registered and present taking free meals
Primary 88.7 80.5 82.7 82.1 80.5 79.2
Secondary 76.6 76.4 73.9 73.4 72.8 70.9
Special 94.8 90.3 89.8 91.3 87.1 85.1
Total 85.0 80.1 81.5 81.0 79.6 78.1
Pupils present and taking meals (free or paid for)
Primary 53.2 64.6 66.0 65.0 62.4 60.4
Secondary 44.4 44.2 45.8 44.3 44.6 45.2
Special 81.7 78.0 77.7 78.0 77.8 72.4
Total 49.8 56.5 58.1 56.9 55.6 54.5

a. In 2014, primary school free meal registrations were affected by a reduction in the number of local authorities with local initiatives.

b. On 5 January 2015, the Scottish Government launched the extension of free school meals eligibility to include all children in P1-P3.

c. Figures on percentage uptake that were originally published were corrected in June 2016. See section 3.3 background notes for this publication for further details.

d. In August 2019, the 2018 figures for Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire were corrected. PE data was not affected. See section 3.3 background notes for this publication for further details.

e. In August 2018, Glasgow City Council introduced a local initiative extending free school meals to all P4 pupils.

f. Figures for 2018 and 2019 exclude Jordanhill. See section 3.3 background notes for this publication for further details.

Table 1b: Primary pupils taking school meals (free or paid for) and registered for and taking free school meals by sector, 2014 to 2019

Number
2014a 2015b,c 2016 2017 2018d,f 2019e,f
Pupils registered for free meals
P1-P3 # 172,284 172,912 173,020 172,163 169,931
P4-P7 # 40,915 39,263 39,215 38,743 44,422
Total Primary (P1-P7) 77,791 213,199 212,175 212,235 210,906 214,353          
Pupils registered and present taking free meals
P1-P3 # 129,674 134,667 134,042 130,201 127,888          
P4-P7 # 33,125 31,787 30,985 30,122 32,651
Total Primary (P1-P7) 63,986 162,799 166,454 165,027 160,323 160,539
Pupils present and taking meals (free or paid for)
P1-P3 # 129,674 134,667 134,042 130,201 127,888 
P4-P7 # 107,730 112,154 112,120 107,114 102,383 
Total Primary (P1-P7) 192,666 237,404 246,821 246,162 237,315 230,271
Percentage
2014a 2015b,c 2016 2017 2018d,f 2019e,f
Pupils registered for free meals
P1-P3 # 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
P4-P7 # 19.2 17.9 17.5 17.0 19.3
Total Primary (P1-P7) 20.6 55.3 54.1 53.4 52.7 53.5
Pupils registered and present taking free meals
P1-P3 # 78.9 81.7 81.2 79.6 79.0
P4-P7 # 87.5 87.3 86.2 84.9 79.9
Total Primary (P1-P7) 88.7 80.5 82.7 82.1 80.5 79.2
Pupils present and taking meals (free or paid for)
P1-P3 # 78.9 81.7 81.2 79.6 79.0
P4-P7 # 53.1 53.7 52.4 49.5 46.7
Total Primary (P1-P7) 53.2 64.6 66.0 65.0 62.4 60.4

a. In 2014, primary school free meal registrations were affected by a reduction in the number of local authorities with local initiatives.

b. On 5 January 2015, the Scottish Government launched the extension of free school meals eligibility to include all children in primary 1-3.

c. Figures on percentage uptake that were originally published were corrected in June 2016. See section 3.3 background notes for this publication for further details.

d. In August 2019, the 2018 figures for Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire were corrected. PE data was not affected. See section 3.3 background notes for this publication for further details.

e. In August 2018, Glasgow City Council introduced a local initiative extending free school meals to all P4 pupils. 

f. Figures for 2018 and 2019 exclude Jordanhill. See section 3.3 background notes for this publication for further details.


Contact

Email: school.stats@gov.scot