Summary statistics for schools in Scotland no. 7: 2016 edition

Results of the annual pupil and teacher censuses, early learning and childcare data, school estates data, attendance and absence data and exclusions data.

Background Notes

1. Sources and Timing

The information in this publication is derived from a number of sources: the pupil census, the staff census, the early learning and childcare census and the school estates core facts survey. The 2016 pupil and staff censuses were carried out on 21st September 2016. The early learning and childcare census took place in the week commencing 19th September 2016. The school estates core facts survey is based on all schools open on 1 April 2016 and schools rebuilt during the 2015-16 financial year.

The information required to complete the pupil and staff censuses was collected electronically, through local authorities, from all publicly funded primary, secondary and special schools, as part of the ScotXed programme. The information is that stored on schools' management information systems, thus reducing the burden on schools.

The ELC census is completed by the approximately 2,500 centres that provide funded Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland, and the figures are validated by local authorities.

ScotXed supports and promotes effective and secure data exchanges so that key partners in school education in Scotland can benefit from access to information to monitor and improve education services. Partners include local authorities, schools, the Scottish Qualifications Agency, HM Inspectorate of Education, Learning and Teaching Scotland and the Scottish Government. Further information, including specifications of the data exchanges, can be found at:

Following the September 2010 consultation of users of school statistics, and changes to the legislation around school handbooks, we have made a number of changes to our collections and publications. This included moving the absence and exclusions data to a biennial (two yearly) collection. The latest set of absence and exclusions data covered 2014/15 academic year and was published in the 2015 edition of the bulletin. Data for the 2016/17 academic year will be published in the 2017 edition. Local authorities continue to collect information on pupils' attendance, absence and exclusions each year on their management information systems. So, if yearly information is required this can be requested directly from local authorities.

For information on our quality assurance process, see the School Education Statistics Validation Process section on the Scottish Government website at:

2. Teachers

The staff census covers all publicly funded schools in Scotland (i.e. local authority and grant-aided schools).

Teacher number statistics and the number of teachers used in pupil teacher ratio calculations include only those teachers defined as 'on roll' (or 'in complement'). This is based on the full-time equivalent ( FTE) of teachers with the following status categories:

Teacher Status Further information
Normal complement Classroom teacher
Long term sick absence replacement Replacement for a teacher on sick absence
Secondment replacement Replacement for a teacher on secondment
Maternity leave replacement Replacement for a teacher on maternity leave
Other replacement (over 2 days)* Other replacement includes teachers who are on short term contracts over 2 days to cover a vacancy and are teaching on census day.
Supernumerary In addition to normal teaching staff
Long term training/staff development replacement Replacement for a teacher on absent due to training
Temporary contract covering a vacancy
Teacher abroad on foreign exchange
Short term supply teacher (2 days or fewer) and centrally employed (mainstream supply teacher from supply pool) If an authority runs a supply pool, those teachers should be included 'in complement' if they are assigned to a school on the census day. They can be included either in the assigned sector, or in the centrally employed total, but not both.

*as per changes to the Teacher Pay deal in 2013.

For published figures:

  • No single teacher can exceed 1 FTE.
  • Centrally employed teachers (including peripatetic/visiting specialists, hospital teaching service and home visiting tutors) who are teaching on census day will be assigned a status as above and are included in the total number of teachers in Scotland and the overall pupil/teacher ratio. Where they teach at a number of schools it is permissible to split their time across those schools.
  • Teachers recorded in roles such as quality improvement officer or educational advisor are classed as support staff, and are not included in the teacher figures or PTR calculations.
  • Vacancies are not included.

Further information can be found in the staff census data specification/guidance which is available here:

There are some differences in the way in which authorities deal with centrally employed teachers. In some cases these visiting specialists are considered as allocated to the schools where they teach, and have been included, with relevant partial FTE, in the school-level data. In other cases they are included as centrally employed staff. Therefore it might be better to compare total FTE or divide any centrally employed teachers across the other sectors if you wish to compare figures between local authorities. However, centrally employed teachers are a small proportion of the total FTE, only around 2 per cent at Scotland level, so the effect of these different recording methods is small. We are also aware that local authorities have changed procedures for reporting centrally employed teachers during recent years, so figures are not necessarily comparable over time, unless you adjust as suggested above.

Figures for the special school sector are compiled from special schools only, and do not include teachers of special classes in mainstream schools. There may be inconsistency between schools and between local authorities in the reporting of special schools and special classes, as well as changes between years. We therefore advise caution when comparing results with previous years and across local authorities.

In February 2015, the teacher numbers for 2014 were corrected as a result of minor amendments to statistics for Highland. There were slight changes to primary, secondary and special school teacher figures which totalled to fewer than ten FTE. These changes did not affect the main messages of these statistics. Further revisions were made to 2014 teacher figures in December 2015. These were a result of our quality assurance processes and receipt of additional information. These revisions related to changes in primary, secondary and centrally employed teacher FTE for North Lanarkshire and a small reduction in the special sector, equating to a reduction of 92 FTE for this local authority's 2014 total. There was a decrease for Dumfries & Galloway (relating to ELC) and a small reduction for West Lothian (primary and centrally employed). The Grant Aided primary and secondary totals increased, primarily as a result of a recording issue which meant that some teachers working across both primary and secondary sectors were undercounted. Overall, these amendments reduced the 2014 total FTE by 94. These changes also affected the 2014 PTR in some cases.

3. Classes and Pupils

The Pupil Census covers all publicly funded schools in Scotland (local authority and grant-aided). Where a school has more than one department, for example a secondary school with a primary department, these are counted as separate schools.

Pupils included in this census are those recorded by the school as being on the roll of the school except those in full time education at another institution (i.e. "status 01" in the data specification only).


A class is a group of pupils normally supervised by one teacher. However, when a class is large and cannot be split, for instance an additional classroom is not available, team teaching may be used. Team teaching is when two teachers are present in the class at all times. When this occurs, the pupil teacher ratio will not exceed maximum class size regulations.

Maximum class sizes in primary schools are as follows:

  • 25 for pupils in P1
  • 30 for single stage class P2 or P3
  • 33 for single stage class P4-P7
  • 25 for composite stage class

A composite class is a class of pupils from two or more stages.

Excepted pupils in class-size legislation are -

(a) Children whose record of additional support needs ( ASN) specifies that they should be educated at the school concerned, and who are placed in the school outside a normal placing round.

(b) children initially refused a place at a school, but subsequently on appeal offered a place outside a normal placing round or because the education authority recognise that an error was made in implementing their placing arrangements for the school.

(c) Children who cannot gain a place at any other suitable school within a reasonable distance of their home because they move into the area outside a normal placing round.

(d) Children who are pupils at special schools, but who receive part of their education at a mainstream school.

(e) Children with ASN who are normally educated in a special unit in a mainstream school, but who receive part of their lessons in a non-special class.

All class size calculations treat a two-teacher class as two classes with half the pupils in each. Total average class size is calculated by dividing the number of pupils by the number of classes. Average class size for pupils in a particular stage (or range of stages) uses the average class size experienced by pupils, which therefore takes into account the number of pupils experiencing each class size. For example, if three pupils are in a class of three and one pupil is in a class of one, the average of three, three, three and one is 2.5.

It is not possible to calculate pupil teacher ratios ( PTRs) for P1-P3 pupils separately as we are unable to identify the proportion of time teachers work with P1-P3 pupils. Class size information for P1-P3 classes is available, however, this only includes the class teacher and does not include the input received from other teachers (i.e. head teachers, specialist teachers (music, PE, ASN) as it is not possible to allocate their time to a specific group.

There would appear to be inconsistency between schools and between local authorities in the reporting of special schools as separate identities, as well as changes over the past years. We therefore advise caution when comparing results with previous years and across local authorities. See also the 'narrative' of all changes to the list of schools:

Some special schools have pupils from a wide age range and the data collected from this sector reflects this. Where pupils attend a 'special unit' attached to a mainstream school, they are usually included in the figures for the mainstream school. Some schools and local authorities have reported pupils from 'special units' separately.

A few authorities do not have special schools and may fund places in neighbouring authorities for their pupils. The number of special schools includes 19 where there were no pupils based, but which received pupils based in other schools.

At September 2016 there was one grant-aided mainstream school, with primary and secondary departments, and seven grant-aided special schools. These schools are included in national totals, but are identified separately in the local authority level tables. In publications prior to 2003 they were included within the local authority of their location.

Pupils with Additional Support Needs

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 support in order to benefit from school education. The act also states that education authorities must have arrangements in place to identify pupils with Additional Support Needs ( ASN) and from among them, those who may require a Co-ordinated Support Plan ( CSP) or Individualised Educational Programme ( IEP). Education authorities must also be able to identify the reason(s) that additional support is needed.

The Local Government Finance Statistics 2015 indicate that education authorities spend £579 million on additional support for learning out of a total spend of £4.8 billion. This is an increase of £24 million on 2014 expenditure and equates to just over 12% over the overall spend on education in Scotland.

Individualised Educational Programmes ( IEPs) are written plans setting targets that a child with ASN is expected to achieve.

Co-ordinated Support Plans ( CSPs) are statutory education plans prepared by local authorities to identify, and ensure provision of, services for children and young people with complex or multiple additional support needs. Targets should be limited in number and focus on key priorities of learning. They should be simple, clearly expressed and measurable.

The statutory criteria and content for a CSP and IEP can be found in the Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice at:

This bulletin also includes information on 'other' types of support. The 'Other' category includes: short term or temporary support and support that is not covered by the other categories of ASN.

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

In the 2010 pupil census, information on ASN was collected in a different way. For the first time, information on reasons for support and nature of support was collected separately for each type of additional support need CSP, IEP, disability, other). In previous years, while information on reasons and nature of support was collected, it was not linked to specific need types. There have been six extra categories (communication support needs, young carer, bereavement, substance misuse, family issues and risk of exclusion) introduced in 'Reasons for support for pupils with Additional Support Needs' since 2012.

The number of pupils identified with ASN has increased markedly since 2010 and there continue to be year on year increases. These increases are likely due to continued improvements in recording and the introduction of the additional categories 'Child plans' and 'Other' in 2011.

Pupil ethnicity and national identity

The categories used to collect ethnicity and national identity data changed in the 2011 pupil census to agree with the categories used in the main population census. This means they are not directly comparable with information collected in previous years. Pupils and parents were given the option of not disclosing their ethnicity and in such cases pupils were not attributed a category.

Children looked after

Pupil census figures on children looked after by the local authority in the supplementary tables are as reported by schools. The definitive source for statistical information in relation to the number and characteristics of looked after children ( LAC) is the Scottish Government 'Children Looked After Survey ( CLAS). The information in the CLAS is provided by local authority social work services departments. We currently suspect that the reporting of a child's LAC status by schools in the Pupil Census is not 100% accurate.

Urban/rural classifications

The urban/rural classifications in Pupil Census Supplementary data Table 1.3 are defined as in the Scottish Household Survey:

Denominational schools

For the purposes of the information in the Pupil Census Supplementary data denominational schools have been restricted to those schools where a specific denomination is named Multi- and inter-denominational schools have therefore been grouped with non-denominational schools.

Changes to data

In February 2016 the 2015 primary school, pupil, class size and PTR figures were revised following new data for a school in North Lanarkshire not being returned at the time of the census.

In March 2015, supplementary tables 2.8, 3.9 and 4.8 were amended in the 2014 supplementary tables due to 2013 data being used in error for the 'other subject' column. Table 4.8 was also amended in the 2013 and 2014 supplementary tables due to data for two ASN categories being incorrectly entered. These changes had no effect on the main messages of these statistics.

In February 2015 the number of primary pupils by class size in 2014 was amended slightly as one P2 pupil had been recorded in the wrong class. This affected class size categories 1-18, 19-20 and 21-25.

In September 2014 Table 1.6 in the supplementary tables, 'Integration of pupils with Additional Support Needs into mainstream classes, 2013', was amended in as special school data had not been included in columns: 'with CSP', 'with IEP', 'with Other Need', 'Assessed Or Declared Disabled' or 'Child Plans'.

In February 2012, small errors were discovered in the additional support needs statistics in Table 3.5. Special school pupils with no additional support needs recorded had been excluded in error from the total pupils with ASN category and the grant aided special school pupils with an IEP or Disability recorded had not been recorded correctly in these categories. Supplementary Tables 3.1, 3.3 and 3.4 were amended following initial publication after one local authority submitted additional information that a large P1 classes had two teachers. This amendment caused the percentage of P1-P3 pupils in class sizes of 18 or fewer in 2011 to increase slightly from 20.1 to 20.2. Table 3.5 was corrected to include additional information on pupils with additional support needs which were submitted by local authorities after initial publication.

In 2011, statistics for 2010 were changed to amend incorrect pupil numbers initially submitted for the grant-maintained sector.

In 2010 statistics for 2006-2009 were revised to include two teacher classes with a PTR of 18 or fewer.

From 2006 inter-denominational schools have been categorised as non-denominational, causing a decrease in the number of schools and pupils designated 'other' denomination.

4. Early Learning and Childcare

The early learning and childcare ( ELC) census covers all centres providing ELC that are funded by local authorities. This was previously referred to as pre-school but was changed to reflect the provision under the new Children and Young People Act that came in to force in 2014. Only services that reported they provided local authority funded ELC at the time of the census, and had a known provision type (local authority/partner provider) are included in this publication. Child-minders are not currently included in the census, although they also provide funded ELC for children in some local authorities.

The ELC census is completed by the approximately 2,500 centres that provide funded Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland. In 2015, for the first time, local authorities were able to check and amend their centres' data before submitting it to the Scottish Government. These improved validation processes have continued, and have resulted in higher data quality. Increased scrutiny of the ELC data by local authorities has affected all ELC data for 2015 and 2016. In particular, the recording of children aged under 3 (as previously children who were not receiving funded ELC, but were attending centres had been wrongly included by centres), and of ELC teachers (as teachers had been double counted), leading to lower numbers in these categories than in previous years.

In 2014, local authorities supplied information on centrally employed ELC teachers separate from the teachers recorded at centres for the first time.

ELC home visiting teachers reported by local authorities as part of the school teacher collection are included in tables 2.1, 3.1 and 3.2 in addition to the data collected through the ELC census.

Previously, if a centre that was providing funded ELC did not return any data then information from the previous census was imputed (i.e. rolled forward). This year is the first year that we have not carried out this procedure. The majority of centres completed the return. Non-teaching staff data was not returned for some centres in a couple of local authorities, and a small proportion of Edinburgh's ELC returns (17 centres) were estimated by the local authority as the centres did not return their data. This change should improve the quality of the data. (In 2015, data was imputed for 82 centres.)

Early learning and childcare centres were asked how many children had access to a General Teaching Council for Scotland ( GTCS) registered teacher during census week. In the guidance notes, "access to a teacher" was defined as "the teacher being present in an early learning and childcare setting when the child is in attendance", and it was acknowledged that systems for providing access to teachers vary.

Centres under a 'regular arrangement' include those who employ a teacher themselves and/or receive regular scheduled access from a centrally employed teacher. Centres with non-regular access are those that receive support only from external teachers on an occasional or ad hoc basis.

In 2010 the date of the early learning and childcare census was moved from January to September. As a result, data collected prior to and after September 2010 are not directly comparable.

Quality assurance of our 2012 data identified the possibility that some teachers who worked in early learning and childcare and primary could be double counted. This was addressed in 2013 by giving local authorities the opportunity to change their teacher numbers for 2010, 2011 and 2012 to remove this double counting. As a result of this, eight local authorities amended their early learning and childcare teacher numbers (Angus, East Dunbartonshire, Midlothian, North Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire), three local authorities amended both primary and early learning and childcare teacher numbers (Aberdeenshire, Highland, Orkney), and one local authority (West Lothian) amended their primary school teacher numbers only. This resulted in minor changes to the primary teacher numbers and substantial changes to the early learning and childcare teacher numbers in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

In 2014 we added an additional check to our quality assurance process which identified a small number of teachers (less than 0.5% of the total) that had been recorded across ELC and the school census with an FTE over one (i.e. recorded as working more than full time hours). We worked with local authorities to resolve this issue, leading to reductions in FTE in both sectors but the majority were removed from ELC. This check has continued in 2015 and 2016, and working with local authorities cases where teachers are recorded with an FTE over one are resolved, often resulting in a decrease in teacher FTE within the ELC sector.

5. School Estates

The school estates core facts survey covers all publicly funded local authority schools open on 1 April 2016. It does not cover grant aided schools, independent schools or early learning and childcare establishments. The survey also contains information on the number of schools rebuilt or substantially refurbished over the last 9 financial years. School Estates data was previously collected in 2004 and then annually from 2007. The collection was piloted in December 2003, however as the 2003 data were incomplete and often of poor quality the results were not published. Not all local authorities could answer all of the questions in the survey at this time. Information from the survey is used to establish baselines, inform targets, inform spending decisions, support monitoring and evaluation of progress over time, and support assessments of value for money in the school estate.

In order to ensure consistency across local authorities, new guidance on assigning condition ratings to schools - The Condition Core Fact (available from - was published in March 2007. All local authorities are now following this guidance when assigning condition ratings to schools. Prior to 2009/10, some local authorities were not following this guidance, so some of the improvement in condition ratings over the years may reflect the adoption of this guidance.

The condition of a school is based on the following criteria, as assessed by local authorities:

Condition A: Good - Performing well and operating efficiently

Condition B: Satisfactory - Performing adequately but showing minor deterioration

Condition C: Poor - Showing major defects and/or not operating adequately

Condition D: Bad - Economic life expired and/or risk of failure

Guidance is also available to local authorities on assigning suitability ratings to schools - The Suitability Core Fact (available from - was published in October 2008.

The suitability of a school is based on the following criteria, as assessed by local authorities:

Condition A: Good - Performing well and operating efficiently

Condition B: Satisfactory - Performing adequately but with minor problems

Condition C: Poor - Showing major problems and/or not operating optimally

Condition D: Bad - Does not support the delivery of services to children and communities

Only rebuilds or refurbishments with a cost of £0.5 million or more for primary, and £1 million or more for secondary and special schools have been included. Where a school is being refurbished or rebuilt as part of a phased project, this is only included once a phase (or a couple of phases combined) is completed and has a value greater than or equal to the amounts stated above. In order to avoid recording a school once a year over several years, any subsequent phases will not be recorded.

Figures published prior to 2013 on number of schools rebuilt should not be used as the data was revised following robust quality assurance processes in later years.

Local authorities determine the formulae used to calculate capacity, in line with Scottish Government guidance (Circular No. 03/2004) They may therefore vary between local authorities and school types. The percentage of capacity used in each school was calculated using the number of pupils recorded at each school from the results of the September 2009 pupil census. Data on the total gross internal floor area ( GIA) and area within the perimeter ( AWP) of the school estate is no longer collected.

A school is recorded as having community services if there is space within it exclusively dedicated to and managed by those providing community services, such as dental, medical or police or social work. This does not refer to use of school amenities such as sports or cultural facilities by community groups. The 2008 survey guidance clarified and restricted what should be included in this category, so a comparison of the 2007 data and later years may not be valid.

PFI (Private Finance Initiative) and NPD (Non-Profit Distributing) models are no longer used in relation to rebuilds/refurbishments. PFI referred to schools that were built or refurbished under a public/private partnership arrangement (previously known as PPP) and NPD referred to schools that were built or refurbished under Non-Profit Distributing models. SSF (Scotland's Schools for the Future) refers to schools built under that programme. It is being funded via a mixture of capital grant and revenue support through the Non-Profit Distributing ( NPD) pipeline of investment.

In 2012, we revised the data on schools rebuilt in 2010/11 to take account of additional information received whilst collecting the 2012 school estates data. This was due to one school being recorded as substantially rebuilt/refurbished on the 2011 school estates return when the work was not completed until 2011/12.

Suitability figures for 2010, 2011 and 2012 were corrected in 2013 to take account of revised suitability information for one East Dunbartonshire school in 2010, 39 in 2011 and one in 2012 and so differ slightly from previously published figures.

As a result of changes to the Local Government Finance collections we are no longer producing Table 8, which contained information on capital and revenue expenditure on the school estate. Changes to the way the local government finance recorded NPD/ PFI rebuilds have made it impossible to produce this on a consistent basis. If you still require this information please contact us.

6. Costs

Pupil census and teacher census data: This information is collected from the management information systems of schools. The estimated cost to local authorities of extracting and validating this information is around £130,000 based on the 2015 collection.

Early Learning and Childcare census: This information is collected directly from ELC centres and we have no information on how much it costs them to complete this. However, local authorities have taken on a role in validating the ELC data (and in some local authorities completing the data on behalf of the centres), and it costs them an estimated £27,000 to do this.

School Estates: The estimated cost to local authorities of extracting and validating this information is £6,000 based on the 2015 collection.

7. Rounding and symbols

All percentages and FTEs are rounded separately so breakdowns may not sum to the total shown.

The following symbols are used:

: = not available
0 = nil or rounds to nil
# = not applicable


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