Publication - Statistics

School Healthy Living Survey statistics: 2020

Published: 8 Sep 2020
From:
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
Directorate:
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education
ISBN:
9781800040540

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.

School Healthy Living Survey statistics: 2020
Chapter 1: School meals

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 17 February 2020.

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, and has been used to distribute funding to local authorities. In January 2015, the Government extended free school meal eligibility to include all children in primary 1-3.[1]

Other sources of data on school meals

Registrations for free school meals are collected as part of the school Pupil Census undertaken in September of each year. This data has been quality assured and published for both the 2018 and 2019 pupil censuses and should now be considered the primary source of data on free school meal registrations. National and local authority level data is available in the pupil census supplementary tables. School level data is available in the school level summary statistics. Details on comparability between the healthy living survey and pupil census free school meals data is included in the background notes.

Data on the number of free and paid for school meals taken over a financial year is collected by the Scottish Government as part of a collection of finance data from local authorities. The data is released as background data for the local government finance statistics in the education data workbook LFR01.

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 level summary statistics. SIMD is the Scottish Government's primary measure of deprivation in relation to educational attainment and performance.

Key Findings

Chart 1: Percentage of pupils registered for free school meals by sector, 2016 to 2020

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

In 2020, 38.1 per cent of the total school roll was registered for free school meals. This is slightly higher than the 38.0 per cent registered in 2019. 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 due to their universal provision of FSM and the introduction of universal eligibility to all P4 pupils in Glasgow City in August 2018.[2]

Chart 2: Percentage of pupils present taking school meals, 2020

The percentage of pupils present on the survey day who took a meal (free or paid for) supplied by the school decreased from 54.5 per cent in 2019 to 53.3 per cent in 2020. This drop was partly driven by a decrease in the percentage of P1-P3 pupils present on survey day who took a free meal supplied by the school, decreasing from 79.0 per cent in 2019 to 75.7 per cent in 2020.

Additional data

School meals data by local authority, Urban Rural classification and size of school 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, 2015 to 2020
Number
2015a,b 2016 2017 2018c,e 2019d,e 2020d,e
Pupils registered for free meals
Primary 213,199 212,175 212,235 210,906 214,353 213,863
Secondary 41,744 39,280 38,841 39,511 41,881 44,502
Special 4,498 3,681 4,155 4,506 4,608 5,281
Total 259,441 255,136 255,231 254,923 260,842 263,646
Pupils registered and present taking free meals
Primary 162,799 166,454 165,027 160,323 160,539 155,258
Secondary 26,264 24,811 23,911 23,937 24,287 25,217
Special 3,607 2,899 3,418 3,466 3,448 4,131
Total 192,670 194,164 192,356 187,726 188,274 184,606
Pupils present and taking meals (free or paid for)
Primary 237,404 246,821 246,162 237,315 230,271 222,005
Secondary 111,562 114,586 110,288 110,364 112,722 112,816
Special 4,875 4,511 4,375 4,663 4,371 5,005
Total 353,841 365,918 360,825 352,342 347,364 339,826
Percentage
2015a,b 2016 2017 2018c,e 2019d,e 2020d,e
Pupils registered for free meals
Primary 55.3 54.1 53.4 52.7 53.5 53.6
Secondary 15.0 14.2 14.1 14.4 15.0 15.6
Special 63.0 55.7 66.2 66.1 66.9 73.7
Total 38.7 37.8 37.6 37.4 38.0 38.1
Pupils registered and present taking free meals
Primary 80.5 82.7 82.1 80.5 79.2 76.9
Secondary 76.4 73.9 73.4 72.8 70.9 70.9
Special 90.3 89.8 91.3 87.1 85.1 86.8
Total 80.1 81.5 81.0 79.6 78.1 76.2
Pupils present and taking meals (free or paid for)
Primary 64.6 66.0 65.0 62.4 60.4 58.6
Secondary 44.2 45.8 44.3 44.6 45.2 44.6
Special 78.0 77.7 78.0 77.8 72.4 77.4
Total 56.5 58.1 56.9 55.6 54.5 53.3

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

b. 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.

c. 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.

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

e. Figures for 2018, 2019 and 2020 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, 2015 to 2020
Number
2015a,b 2016 2017 2018c,e 2019d,e 2020d,e
Pupils registered for free meals
P1-P3 172,284 172,912 173,020 172,163 169,931 167,838
P4-P7 40,915 39,263 39,215 38,743 44,422 46,025
Total Primary (P1-P7) 213,199 212,175 212,235 210,906 214,353 213,863
Pupils registered and present taking free meals
P1-P3 129,674 134,667 134,042 130,201 127,888 120,977
P4-P7 33,125 31,787 30,985 30,122 32,651 34,381
Total Primary (P1-P7) 162,799 166,454 165,027 160,323 160,539 155,358
Pupils present and taking meals (free or paid for)
P1-P3 129,674 134,667 134,042 130,201 127,888 120,977
P4-P7 107,730 112,154 112,120 107,114 102,383 101,128
Total Primary (P1-P7) 237,404 246,821 246,162 237,315 230,271 222,105
Percentage
2015a,b 2016 2017 2018c,e 2019d,e 2020d,e
Pupils registered for free meals
P1-P3 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
P4-P7 19.2 17.9 17.5 17.0 19.3 19.9
Total Primary (P1-P7) 55.3 54.1 53.4 52.7 53.5 53.6
Pupils registered and present taking free meals
P1-P3 78.9 81.7 81.2 79.6 79.0 75.7
P4-P7 87.5 87.3 86.2 84.9 79.9 81.4
Total Primary (P1-P7) 80.5 82.7 82.1 80.5 79.2 76.9
Pupils present and taking meals (free or paid for)
P1-P3 78.9 81.7 81.2 79.6 79.0 75.7
P4-P7 53.1 53.7 52.4 49.5 46.7 46.2
Total Primary (P1-P7) 64.6 66.0 65.0 62.4 60.4 58.6

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

b. 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.

c. 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.

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

e. Figures for 2018, 2019 and 2020 exclude Jordanhill. See section 3.3 background notes for this publication for further details.


Contact

Email: school.stats@gov.scot