Summary statistics for schools in Scotland 2023

Headline statistics on teachers, pupils, attendance, exclusions and early learning and childcare provision in Scotland.

Definitions and glossary

Some of the definitions provided here relate to attendance, absence and exclusions which are included in this bulletin every second year.

Early learning and childcare

Local authorities have a duty to secure a funded place (currently 1,140 hours a year) for three and four year-olds and eligible two year-olds

All parents and carers have the legal right to defer their child’s entry to primary school if they are not yet 5 years old at the beginning of the school year. As of 1 August 2023, all children who defer starting primary school will be able to access an additional year of funded ELC.

Places are provided by local authority services, or secured through partnership arrangements with private or third sector services

Primary schools

Children usually start school between 4 and a half and 5 and a half years old

There are seven stages from Primary 1 (P1) to Primary 7 (P7)

Pupils are not streamed by ability at primary school and automatically move up a stage each year

Secondary schools

Pupils attend for up to six years (S1 to S6)

Qualifications are usually taken in S4 to S6 starting at age 15-16

Special schools

Most children with additional support needs are educated in mainstream schools but some with complex or specific needs are educated in special schools

Not all local authorities have special schools

In these statistics pupils attending special schools are not assigned to primary or secondary or to a stage


Most teachers have a four year degree including or concurrent with a teaching qualification, or have completed a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) following a degree

Teaching graduates from a Scottish university that take-up their guaranteed one year probationary teaching post are referred to as induction scheme teachers in these statistics

Additional support needs (ASN)

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) Scotland Act 2004 (as amended) states that a child or young person has an additional support need where they need additional support in order to benefit from school education.

Cases of exclusion

Cases of exclusion refers to the number of incidences of exclusion, not the number of pupils excluded, as a pupil can be excluded multiple times.

Centrally employed teachers

Teachers who were recorded as working across a local authority rather than an individual school or early learning and childcare centre.

Child Plans

Single or multi agency plans based on an assessment guided by the Getting it Right for Every Child National Practice Model .

Children and Young People Act

This Act came into force in 2014.

Co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP)

This statutory education plan is prepared by local authorities to identify, and ensure provision of, services for children and young people with complex or multiple additional support needs.

Early learning and childcare (ELC)

Three and four year-olds and eligible two year-olds are entitled to 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare (ELC). ELC is secured by local authorities through their own provision, or through partner providers in the private, independent or third sector.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Refers to pupils for whom English is a second or additional language.

Excepted pupils

These pupils do not count towards class size for the purpose of class size limits. A list of the reasons that a pupil may be defined as excepted can be found in the background note.

Full-time equivalent (FTE)

The total number of hours worked by all teachers divided by the number of hours in a standard full-time working week.

Grant-aided Schools (GAS)

Schools that are supported financially directly by the Scottish Government and follow the Curriculum for Excellence but are independent from Local Authorities. Grant-aided schools are not equivalent to schools termed ‘academies’ in some parts of the UK.

Grant-aided special schools (GASS)

These schools provide for young people with a wide range of ASN. There are seven GASS in Scotland.

General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)

The independent professional body responsible for keeping a register of teachers in public education in Scotland and advising the Scottish Ministers on teacher education. All teachers in public education must be registered with the GTCS.

Individualised Education Programme (IEP)

Individualised Education Programmes are written plans setting targets that a child with additional support needs is expected to achieve.

Independent schools

Privately owned and self-financing schools (also known as private or fee-paying schools). Information on independent schools is not included in this bulletin.

Lead Teachers

A new role of Lead Teacher was established in June 2021 by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.

The Lead Teacher role provides a career pathway for specialist roles in curricular, pedagogical and policy delivery.

There are three levels of Lead Teacher: school, local authority and regional/national.

Least Deprived

Pupils whose home address is in the 20% of least deprived data zones as defined by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Local authority early learning and childcare (ELC) centres

ELC centres which are run and financed by the local authority.

Local authority schools

Schools which are run and financed by the local authority.

Most Deprived

Pupils whose home address is in the 20% of most deprived data zones as defined by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

Partnership agreement – (relating to ELC entitlement)

This is the agreement between local authorities and partner providers through which they deliver the early learning and childcare entitlement.

Partnership ELC centres

This is partner provider centres in the private, third or independent sectors which could include private or third sector nurseries, playgroups, family centres and school based nurseries. Childminders are not currently included in the census, although they can and do also work as partner providers with local authorities.

Pupil enrolments

As pupils can attend multiple schools during a year, the attendance, absence and exclusions collection counts pupil enrolments rather than total pupils. These are identified using the combination of a school’s unique identifier (SEED code) and a pupil’s Scottish Candidate Number. A pupil who is on roll at one school during the year will have one enrolment, whereas a pupil who was on roll at two or more schools will have multiple enrolments.

Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR)

The average number of pupils per teacher.

Publicly funded schools

Includes local authority and grant-aided schools.

Removed from the register

This refers to a pupil who is excluded and their name removed from the school register. Such a pupil would then be educated at another school or via an alternative form of provision.

Registration (for funded ELC)

A funded place received by a child at an ELC centre. Children are counted once for each centre they are registered with, so the same child may be counted multiple times if they attend more than one centre. Six local authorities (East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Falkirk, Na h’Eileanan Siar, South Ayrshire, and South Lanarkshire) remove instances where an individual child is counted more than once.

SIMD – Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation identifies small area concentrations of multiple deprivation across Scotland

Teacher Induction Scheme probationer

GTCS provides a guaranteed one-year training post in a local authority to every eligible student graduating with a teaching qualification from one of Scotland's universities.

Temporary exclusion

This is when a pupil is excluded from school but remains on the school’s register because they are expected to return after the period of exclusion.


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