Chapter 9: Background notes
National Statistics publication
This is a National Statistics Publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics.
These statistics undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. This publication has been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority.
Sources and Timing
The information in this publication is derived from a number of sources: the pupil census, the school staff census, the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) census and the attendance, absence and exclusions collection. The 2019 pupil and school staff censuses were carried out on 18 September 2019. The early learning and childcare census took place in the week commencing 16 September 2019.
Supplementary tables on the school staff census and the pupil census will be published in March 2020. Additional early learning and childcare tables are available on the Scottish Government website at: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/Pubs-Pre-SchoolEducation
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 collected is largely sourced from school management information systems, thus reducing the burden on data provider.
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.
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. Local authorities continue to collect information on pupils' attendance, absence and exclusions each year on their management information systems and 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: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/collectionprocess
The school staff census covers all publicly funded schools in Scotland (i.e. local authority and grant-aided schools).
Definitions and data quality
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 in post at the time of the census with one of 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 two days)*||Other replacement includes teachers who are on short term contracts over two 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 the purposes of these statistics:
- An individual teacher cannot 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 these teacher statistics or PTR calculations.
- Vacant posts are not included.
If a normal complement teacher is unexpectedly absent during census week and requires cover, the replacement teacher covering this post can be recorded under a number of statuses, depending on the nature of the cover.
Some local authorities will only record the replacement teacher as having a qualifying status if the teacher they are replacing is absent 'long term' (there is no fixed definition of long term). In this circumstance, the absent teacher would be recorded under the appropriate status, such 'long term absence' to describe their reason for absence.
Other local authorities, however, may record the replacement teacher as 'short term supply teacher (up to two days) covering a normal complement teacher'. If this teacher is not centrally employed they would not be counted as on roll for the purposes of these statistics. The absent teacher will continue to be recorded as normal complement and as such will be included in calculations of the number of teachers.
Some local authorities record replacement teachers as 'other replacement' and do not change the status of the normal complement teacher who is absent. This situation may result in double counting of an absent teacher and their replacement, however such cases are rare.
Further information on teacher status categories can be found in the staff census data specification/guidance which is available here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/ScotXed/SchoolEducation/StaffCensus
Centrally Employed Teachers
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. We are also aware that local authorities have changed procedures for reporting centrally employed teachers during recent years. Centrally employed teachers are a small proportion of the total FTE, only around 2%, so the effect of these different recording methods is small.
Statistics for the special school sector are compiled from schools formally designated as special schools in the Scottish Government's School Establishment collection. There is not always a clear distinction between special schools and special units or classes within a mainstream school. This should be kept in mind when analysing the statistics.
In these statistics a Teacher Induction Scheme probationer is defined as an individual in a post on the Teacher Induction Scheme and individuals on other probationer schemes providing that scheme only spans a single September. Other probationers, that enter into teaching via a flexible or alternative route, will be recorded with a temporary or permanent post employment type.
In Table 3.6, induction scheme teachers in 2018 were defined as teachers in a post where the employment type was reported as induction scheme. Prior to 2018, induction scheme teachers were based on a list of registration identifiers provided by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) on an annual basis. Post-induction scheme teachers are identified by matching these registration identifiers with the identifiers collected as part of the following year's school staff census.
For the purposes of the school staff census, only the teacher's substantive grade is collected. However, in some local authorities where a teacher holds a post on temporary promotion, the substantive grade is changed to the grade of the promoted post. In some cases, such as when a teacher is on a temporary promoted post, a teacher may have multiple posts, each at a different grade.
Mode of working (full-time/ part-time)
The mode of working statistics in Table 3.4: Teacher Characteristics define working pattern on the cumulative FTE for an individual within a single school type (primary, secondary, special or centrally employed) and specific grade. Therefore, teachers working across multiple sectors or at multiple grades will be counted as part time for each sector and grade combination, even if their total FTE sums to one. In 2019, there were 694 FTE teachers working for a total of one FTE but across more than one grade or sector so have therefore been recorded as part time in Table 3.4.
Employment type (permanent, temporary and Teacher Induction Scheme) relates to each post that a teacher holds, rather than their employment contract. This means that you could have permanent employment contract but be recorded with a temporary employment type for an individual post.
Where local authorities record posts under the SEEMiS categories 'acting up' or seconded' the employment type will be returned as permanent for the purposes of the school staff census. We are aware that local authorities are taking different approaches to recording temporary promotions.
For example, in the situation where a main-grade teacher is on temporary promotion to a principal teacher post they may be reported as having a temporary employment type and principal teacher grade.
Alternatively they may be recorded as 'acting up' in SEEMiS and so reported as permanent in the school staff census, at their substantive grade (main-grade teacher).
It is also possible that this situation reported as permanent principal teacher or a temporary main-grade teacher.
Prior to 2019, 'not disclosed' ethnic background presented in Table 3.4 included the categories 'unknown' and 'not disclosed'. In 2019 these categories have been presented separately.
Teachers funded through the Attainment Scotland Fund
The Attainment Scotland Fund (ASF) is a targeted initiative focused on closing the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged children. It is delivered through two primary routes: the Scottish Attainment Challenge and the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF). One way in which this funding may be used is to recruit additional teaching capacity.
Since 2016, the total FTE of ASF funded teachers across Scotland has been published as part of the reporting on the school staff census. This information helps with the monitoring and development of ASF policy. It also helps the Scottish Government to accurately measure compliance with the commitment agreed with local authorities in that they maintain their collective PTR through their core funding, i.e. excluding ASF funded teachers.
In 2018, a new field was added to the local authority management information system (SEEMiS) with the aim of recording the 'funding source' for each teaching post. Analysis of 2018 and 2019 data has revealed that the way in which teaching posts are funded has become increasingly complex.
As such, it is not always possible, or meaningful, to assign a single source of funding to a teaching post or teacher.
- Some posts may be funded jointly through core local authority budgets and ASF budgets. Where it is not possible to account for posts with a single source of funding then the source which funds the majority of the post should be returned in the school staff census.
- A specific example of this joint funding are cases where PEF has been used to fund the difference between a teacher's substantive post and their promoted post (e.g. where a teacher has taken on additional responsibility for ASF related work).
- ASF funding may also be being used indirectly. For example, PEF may be used to allow a school to recruit additional probationer teachers which, in turn, enables existing staff (who are core funded) to undertake PEF related work.
- The innovative nature of ASF work means that it is challenging the commonly held definition of what a teaching post entails; and this may vary between local authorities.
In addition, there are other factors that may affect the reliability of the data on the funding source for teaching posts collected through the school staff census:
- Unlike the majority of school staff data which is also used operationally by schools and local authorities, data on the funding source for teaching posts is generally only recorded on SEEMiS for the purpose of the school staff census. Therefore any anomalies with these figures would not necessarily be identified in the usual course of business, as would be the case for other aspects of the school staff census data.
- The increasingly diverse models of school education provision may also mean that schools and local authorities take different approaches to the recording of similar situations.
Therefore, all of these factors have implications for the interpretation and use of the information collected on the funding source of teaching posts. Even where it is appropriate to measure the teacher FTE funded through ASF, the factors described above may result in an over count in some circumstances and an undercount in others. Therefore, the number of FTE teachers funded through ASF is an estimate based on the data recorded and submitted by local authorities.
Taking all of this into account, using the information collected as part of the 2019 school staff census, it is estimated that 975 FTE teachers were funded through ASF, which is similar to the estimate of 962 FTE in 2018. The PTR for all local authorities (excluding these ASF funded teachers) is 13.8, the same as 2018.
The Scottish Government will continue to work with local authorities through the school staff census framework to further understand the use of ASF funding in terms of teaching resource whilst seeking to minimise the reporting burden on local authorities and schools.
Classes and Pupils
Scope and timing
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.
At September 2019 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 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" ('status 01' only in the pupil census data specification). Schools have only been included in school counts where they have at least one pupil on the school roll meeting this definition.
The data gathered in the pupil census is drawn from management information held by schools and local authorities for the purposes of administering education. The information published is therefore a reflection of the information provided by school staff and pupils' parents/guardians.
Children in Scotland usually start school between 4½ and 5½ years old.
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 (or more) 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. Class sizes for P1, P2 and P3 are set out in the Education (Lower Primary Class Sizes) (Scotland) Regulations 1999 (as amended).
Classes may exceed these maximums due to the presence of one or more 'excepted pupils'. In class size legislation these are defined as:
- 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.
- 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.
- Children who cannot gain a place at any other suitable school within a reasonable distance of their home because they moved into the area outside a normal placing round.
- Children who are pupils at special schools, but who receive part of their education at a mainstream school.
- 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.
Class size calculations
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 takes into account the number of pupils experiencing each class size.
Examples of how the class size figures in this bulletin were calculated are provided below:
P1-P3 average class sizes
The P1-P3 average class size statistics describe the size of classes that pupils experience. The methodology used is described below:
1. Effective class size - each class containing any P1, P2 or P3 pupils and two teachers present at all times is assigned an "effective class size" that is half the size of the actual class.
2. Weight each class by its size - for each class multiply the number of P1-P3 pupils in each class by the effective class size.
3. Total pupils and weighted classes - sum all P1, P2 and P3 pupils across all classes and sum weighted classes.
4. Average class size - divide the total weighted classes by total P1, P2 and P3 pupils.
|Count of P1-P3 pupils||Total pupils||Count of teachers||Step 1:||Step 2:|
|Class||Effective class size||Weighted class|
|Step 4: Average class size||19|
This method produces a different value to the simple average of pupils per class (i.e. dividing the number of pupils by the number of classes). In the example above, not weighting the classes would give an average class size of 75 pupils ÷ 5 classes = 15.
Weighting the classes gives a better representation of the class sizes experienced by pupils as it shows the average class size per pupil. The simple average method shows the average number of pupils per class.
Percentage of P1-P3 pupils in classes of 18 or fewer
P1-P3 pupils in classes of 18 or fewer includes two teacher classes with 36 or fewer pupils and composite classes.
The percentage of all P1-P3 pupils in such classes is calculated as described below:
1. Effective class size - each class containing any P1, P2 or P3 pupils and two teachers present at all times is assigned an "effective class size" that is half the size of the actual class. This is the same as step 1 above.
2. Sum the total number of P1, P2 and P3 pupils in classes with an effective size of 18 or fewer, then divide this by the total number of P1, P2 and P3 pupils, then multiply by 100.
Using data from the table above: (15+30)/(25+15+30+5)*100 = 60%.
Pupils in Scotland usually begin attending secondary school between the ages of 11½ and 12½ years. These schools have six stages. However, pupils can leave school from the age of 16.
Class size data is not collected for secondary schools as class sizes vary widely across subjects.
Most children with additional support needs are educated in mainstream schools but some with complex or specific needs are educated in special schools. These schools cover primary and secondary education. A few authorities do not have special schools and may fund places in neighbouring authorities for their pupils.
Statistics for the special school sector are compiled from schools formally designated as special schools in the Scottish Government's School Establishment collection. There is not always a clear distinction between special schools and special units or classes within a mainstream school. This should be kept in mind when analysing the statistics.
Where pupils attend a 'special unit' attached to a mainstream school, they are usually included in the figures for the mainstream school. However, some schools and local authorities have reported pupils from 'special units' separately.
Prior to 2018, open special schools with no pupils or where no pupils were on roll but pupils from other schools attended were included in school counts in this publication. From 2018, they have been excluded. Figures for years prior to 2018 have not been revised to exclude these schools. This methodological change accounts for the large decrease in the number of special schools between 2017 and 2018.
Some special schools have pupils from a wide age range and this is reflected in the data collected from this sector. Some schools or local authorities may assign their special pupils stages but this information is not collected by the Scottish Government. Instead, all special school pupils are assigned the stage 'SP' ('special') at the time of the pupil census.
Pupils attending special schools are generally between the ages of two and 18 years old.
Pupils with additional support needs
The pupil census collects information on the number of pupils who require additional support to access education (and the reason they need this support), not the number of pupils who have been diagnosed with specific 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 additional support in order to overcome barriers and 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 specific support plan. Education authorities must also be able to identify the reason(s) that additional support is needed.
In 2010, the way in which ASN information was collected changed and 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. Since 2012, six extra categories of reasons for support (communication support needs, young carer, bereavement, substance misuse, family issues and risk of exclusion) have been introduced.
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 in part to continued improvements in recording and the introduction of the additional need types 'Child plans' and 'Other' in 2011.
The pupil census collects information on pupils who are assessed or declared disabled or have one of the following need types:
- Individualised Educational Programme (IEP) is a tailored, individualised plan or programme of support which is expected to last up to a year. Learning targets within the plan are usually of multiple months or termly duration and this plan is reviewed. This plan may also be known as an additional support plan, or other similar name. The statutory criteria and content for an IEP can be found in the Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/supporting-childrens-learning-code-practice-revised-edition/.
- 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 can be found in the Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/supporting-childrens-learning-code-practice-revised-edition/.
- Child plans are single or multi agency plans based on an assessment guided by the Getting it Right for every Child National Practice Model.
This bulletin also includes information on 'other' types of support. 'Other' type refers to additional support needs which have been identified and are being supported but which do not fall within the subcategories of need collected in the pupil census. These may be needs which are of short-term duration, or which do not need significant differentiation of learning and teaching to overcome barriers to learning.
Pupil ethnicity and national identity
The categories used to collect ethnicity and national identity data changed in the 2011 pupil census to align with the categories used in the main population census. This should be kept in mind when making comparisons with information collected in previous years.
Pupils and parents are given the option of not disclosing a pupil's ethnicity and in such cases pupils are recorded as 'not disclosed'. Prior to 2019, figures in this bulletin combined the 'not disclosed' category with the 'not known' category. However, these were split out from 2019 onwards.
Information on country of birth and nationality are not collected.
English as an Additional Language
The pupil census collects information on a pupil's level of English in addition to information on whether a pupil has 'English as an Additional Language' (EAL) as a reason for having an additional support need (ASN).
Reconciliation of these two sets of information has identified widespread discrepancies between them, including pupils reported with low levels of English yet also reported as not having EAL as a reason for ASN.
Looked after children
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.
Up until 2016, figures on children looked after by the local authority as reported by schools were published in the pupil census Supplementary Tables. These figures are no longer published due to concerns about the data quality.
Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
Information on pupil deprivation status is obtained by linking the information gathered in the pupil census to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2016. This is done using pupils' postcodes.
No SIMD data is available for a small proportion of pupils recorded in the Census. This is usually because no postcode has been provided or the provided postcode is invalid. Some local authorities have also reported having no postcode available for children of Gypsy/Traveller families.
More information about SIMD can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/simd
The urban/rural classifications in pupil census Supplementary Data are based on the 2016 urban rural classification, described here: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About/Methodology/UrbanRuralClassification
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.
Early Learning and Childcare
The Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) census covers all centres providing funded ELC as defined in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 ('the 2014 Act'). This was previously referred to as pre-school. Three and four year olds and eligible two year olds are entitled to 600 hours of funded early learning and childcare (ELC). As part of the phasing for the expansion of funded ELC to 1,140 hours by August 2020, some children may be receiving more than 600 hours of funded ELC.
A centre is a local authority, private or voluntary setting providing funded ELC. Childminders are not currently included in the ELC census, although they also provide funded ELC for children. Approximately 2,600 centres that provide funded ELC in Scotland complete the census.
Eligibility for funded ELC
Local authorities have a duty to provide funded ELC to all 'eligible children' in their area. They also have a power to provide (discretionary) funded ELC to any other child (before school starting age), as they see fit.
'Eligible children' are all three and four year olds from the relevant start date and some two year olds who meet the eligibility criteria. For three year olds, only around half of children are eligible at the time of the census. More information on this can be found on the Scottish Government website. The census counts children registered for funded ELC during the period 16-20 of September 2019.
The profile of eligible two year olds has changed since the 2014 Act first introduced a duty on local authorities to provide funded ELC for this age. Eligibility criteria were set out originally in 2014 and these have been subsequently amended in 2015 and 2017. The changes from 2014 to 2015 expanded the eligibility criteria (to move from targeting around 15% of the two year old population to around a quarter). The change in 2017 made a technical change to account for the roll out of Universal Credit.
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.
Statistics on teacher access in funded early learning and childcare are published in the additional tables accompanying this publication.
In 2010 the date of the early learning and childcare census was moved from January to September. As a result of the timing, data collected prior to and after September 2010 are not directly comparable.
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 and 5.2 in addition to the data collected through the ELC census.
From 2017, data was collected on the number of graduates (other than teachers) working in ELC. Graduates include ELC staff that hold either: (1) a degree level benchmark qualification required by the SSSC for registration as a manager/lead practitioner (see list of qualifications below); (2) a degree level (SCQF level 9) qualification relevant to early years and are working towards a degree level benchmark qualification required by the SSSC for registration as a manager/lead practitioner; (3) or a degree level qualification sufficient to meet the registration standards of another regulatory body (e.g. Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Medical Council). Data was also collected on the number of ELC staff that don't currently hold a degree level (SCQF level 9) qualification relevant to early years, but are working towards one of the SSSC benchmark qualifications required by the SSSC for registration as a manager/lead practitioner. Note that these staff may hold degrees in subjects unrelated to early years, such as physics or accountancy, or may hold early years qualifications below SCQF level 9.
SSSC Benchmark qualifications
- BA Childhood Practice
- BA (Honours) Childhood Practice (Strathclyde University)
- Graduate Diploma Childhood Practice (the University of the West of Scotland)
- SQA Professional Development Award Childhood Practice (360 credits at SCQF Level 9)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Childhood Practice
- Master of Education Childhood Practice, Glasgow University and Dundee University
From 2018, data has also been collected information on staff working in ELC funded through the Additional Graduate Commitment. These staff are also known as Equity and Excellence leads. This is a Scottish Government commitment to fund additional posts in nurseries located in the most deprived areas of Scotland. These posts are for either teachers with early years expertise, or graduate practitioners with, or working towards, one of the benchmark qualifications required by the SSSC for registration as a manager/lead practitioner. These staff are also counted in the relevant teacher and graduate staff tables associated with this publication.
Improvements to the ELC census
The method for calculating the percentage uptake of ELC has been improved from 2018 to account for local authorities who use different eligibility criteria for three year olds to the statutory criteria that a child becomes eligible for funded ELC in the term after their 3rd birthday. More information on this change is available in Table 4 of the additional ELC tables accompanying this publication.
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). From 2016 onwards, data is no longer imputed so the quality of data should be higher.
In 2015, for the first time, local authorities were able to check and amend data for settings within their local authority before submitting it to the Scottish Government. This additional validation process has continued, and resulted in higher data quality. Increased scrutiny of the funded ELC data by local authorities has affected all funded ELC data from 2015 onwards.
In particular, the recording of children aged under three has improved (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 an additional check was added to the 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 from 2015 onwards, 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.
Quality assurance of the 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 re-submit 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.
Attendance and Absence
In 2007, the Scottish Government published guidance Included, Engaged and Involved Part 1 which replaced Scottish Executive Circular 5/03 on the management of attendance and absence in Scottish schools. An updated version of this guidance was published in June 2019 and is available here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/included-engaged-involved-part-1-positive-approach-promotion-management-attendance-scottish-schools/.
Timing and scope
Information on attendance and absence is collected biennially. The figures published in this bulletin refer to the 2018/19 school year. It will next be collected for the 2020/21 school year.
The collection covers all publicly funded local authority schools in Scotland and Jordanhill, the grant-aided mainstream school. It does not cover grant-aided special schools, independent schools or early learning and childcare establishments.
Attendance and absence information is collected and published for pupils with pupil census status 01 ("pupil on roll of this school (except for those attending full time Further Education courses outside this school)"), status 04 ("pupil on roll of this school attending full time Further Education course outside of this school") or status 05 ("pupil on roll of this school attending full time course other than Further Education outside of this school").
Any school that was open and had pupils with one of the above statuses on its roll during the collection year is included in the data, regardless of the length of time it was open for. Therefore schools that opened or closed during the year will still be captured.
S6 pupils are included in all figures in this publication.
Further information on what is collected in the attendance and absence collection may be found in the collection specification, available here: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/ScotXed/SchoolEducation/AttendanceAbsenceExclusions.
The attendance and absence and absence categories used for these statistics are described below.
- Attendance at school
- Lateness when the pupil has arrived during the first half of the opening
- Learning outwith the school provided by a college or other learning provider while still on the roll of the school
- Educational visits, day and residential visits to outdoor centres
- Interviews and visits relating to further and higher education or careers events
- Debates, sports, musical or drama activities in conjunction with the school
- Study leave for pupils participating in national exams, if arranged by the school during the period of the national examination timetable
- Receiving tuition via hospital or outreach teaching services
- Medical or dental appointments
- Work experience, arranged or agreed by the school
- Volunteering, arranged or agreed by the school
- Sickness with educational provision
- Sickness without educational provision
- Lateness when the pupil has arrived during the second half of the opening
- Family holidays authorised by the school in exceptional circumstances
- Short-term exceptional domestic circumstances
- Other authorised absence, including:
- Immediate family weddings
- Religious observances
- Attendance at court
- Attendance at childcare review
- Attendance at children's hearing
- Lack of transport - including due to bad weather
- Sporting & cultural events not arranged by the school, but approved by them
- Extended absence in relation to children of travelling families
- Part-time timetable (health related)
- Part-time timetable (exclusion related)
- 'Occasional absence without parental awareness' (previously 'truancy')
- Family holidays not authorised by the school
- Long-term exceptional domestic circumstances
- Other unauthorised absences, e.g. where a parent is in dispute with the school
- Openings when a pupil has been excluded from school on a temporary basis
Extended leave with parental consent
- Recorded separately outwith the figures for attendance and absence, and includes circumstances such as:
- extended overseas educational trips not organised by the school
- short-term parental placement abroad
- family returning to its country of origin (to care for relative, or for cultural reasons)
Calculation of attendance and absence rates
Percentage attendance, authorised absence and unauthorised absence relate to the total number of possible attendances. The number of possible half days attendance will differ for each pupil enrolment, depending on the length of time the pupil is on the roll of the school, the number of half day openings the school operates, and whether the pupil has any 'extended leave without parental consent' recorded (no openings recorded as extended leave with parental consent are considered to be possible attendances).
Many schools operate 380 half-day sessions during the school year. However, some schools operate 342 longer half-day sessions in the school year. Schools doing so include:
- All schools in the City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian and the Scottish Borders
- One school in Perth and Kinross
- 67 schools in Highland
Pupil characteristics and linkage to the pupil census
Information on pupils' sex, ethnicity, national identity and school stage are collected alongside the attendance and absence data. However, information on all other pupil characteristics is obtained by linking the attendance and absence data to the pupil census conducted in the school year the data pertains to. The 2018/19 attendance and absence data was linked to the 2018 pupil census data.
This linkage is done using combinations of identifiers and characteristics of the pupils in the attendance absence data, including school attended, Scottish Candidate Number, sex and ethnicity. Pupils who move between local authority schools after the date the pupil census was conducted (September of the school year) will still be matched to their census records even if their school differs. However, any pupils who were not attending any local authority school in Scotland on census day will be unable to be matched to the census data. This is likely to occur when a pupil has, for example, moved to Scotland or from an independent school to a local authority funded school during the school year.
For the 2018/19 attendance and absence collection 99.2% of pupil enrolments were matched to the pupil census.
The criteria used to match the exclusions data to the pupil census were revised for the 2018/19 collection as a result of a new data structure being used during the collection process. As the rate of matching is consistent with previous collections the figures in this publication are comparable with them.
Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation Data
The information on the deprivation of pupils, as measured by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2016, was obtained using the postcode information linked to their pupil census records. Pupils who were unable to be linked to the pupil census therefore have no SIMD data available. An additional 0.1% of pupil enrolments had no SIMD data available as their postcode information from the 2018 pupil census could not be matched to the SIMD data. Reasons for this include the postcode being missing or invalid.
Notes on the interpretation of the data
Variation between local authorities
The attendance and absence data reported here is affected by differences in recording procedures across local authorities and over time. This should be borne in mind when making comparisons. For example, some local authorities have indicated that they only use a subset of the available codes. It should therefore not be stated that some authorities necessarily have, for example, worse sickness or 'occasional absence without parental awareness' rates than others.
However, this does not apply to comparisons between the overarching absence categories.
New part-time timetable codes
Two new absence codes - part-time timetable (health related) and part-time timetable (exclusion related) - were available for schools to use during the 2018/19 school year. Variation in the use of these between schools and local authorities and incorrect usage of them was identified during the quality assurance of the attendance and absence data.
Guidance on the part-time timetable (exclusion related) code was published in 2017 in Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2. It should be used to record where a pupil is not attending school because they are on a phased return following an exclusion. However, quality assurance of the data with local authorities revealed that some schools and local authorities were using the code to record when a pupil was on a part-time timetable to prevent them being excluded. There were also cases of the code being used in line with the guidance in Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2.
As a result all absences recorded using these part-time timetable codes has been recoded as 'other authorised absence' for the purposes of these 2018/19 statistics. The number of absences reported using these codes was very small (0.04% of possible attendances) so the recoding has not had a large impact on the 'other authorised absence' and overall 'authorised absence' statistics or their comparability.
Comparison to the exclusions collection
Status 05 pupils ("pupil on roll of this school attending full time course other than Further Education outside of this school") and pupils attending the mainstream grant-aided school, Jordanhill, are included in the attendance and absence collection but not the exclusions collection. As a result, any exclusions of these pupils will be recorded in one but not the other, making the total number of half days pupils were temporarily excluded for higher in the attendance collection than the exclusions collection. This issue occurs at all levels. However, the cases of exclusion for these pupils and the number of half days these pupils were excluded for are very low. Therefore, that it is not considered to have an impact on the figures from either collection or the use of them together.
Under Circulars 10/93 and 1/95, local authorities are required each year to collect certain statistics from schools on exclusions. The statistics relate to half-days of temporary exclusions and number of pupils removed from the register (previously known as 'permanent' exclusions). An exclusion is temporary when a pupil is excluded from a school but remains on the register of that school because they are expected to return when the exclusion period is completed. The term 'removed from the register' 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 some other form of provision.
New guidance on exclusions from school was published in 2017 and is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/06/8877.
Timing and scope
Information on exclusions is collected biennially. The figures published in this bulletin refer to the 2018/19 school year. It will next be collected for the 2020/21 school year.
The collection covers all publically funded local authority schools in Scotland. It does not cover grant-aided schools (including Jordanhill School), independent schools or early learning and childcare establishments.
Prior to the 2018/19 collection exclusions information was collected for the grant-aided mainstream school, Jordanhill. This information ceased to be collected from the 2018/19 collection as the cases of exclusions and number of pupils excluded at this school were consistently low in previous collections. Publishing this information therefore risked the identification of the pupils and/or incidents concerned without disclosure control being applied. This disclosure control would also reduce the information available on exclusions in other schools and local authorities to the detriment of the interpretation the figures. It was therefore decided to stop the collection of exclusions figures for Jordanhill. The small number of exclusions concerned means that this change is not considered to impact the comparability of figures from the 2018/19 collection onwards with those from previous collections.
Exclusions information is only collected and published for pupils with status 01 ("pupil on roll of this school (except for those attending full time Further Education courses outside this school)") or status 04 ("pupil on roll of this school attending full time Further Education course outside of this school").
Further information on what is collected in the exclusions collection may be found in the collection specification, available here: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/ScotXed/SchoolEducation/AttendanceAbsenceExclusions.
Pupil characteristics and linkage to the pupil census
Information on pupils' sex, ethnicity, national identity and school stage are collected alongside the exclusions data. However, information on all other pupil characteristics is obtained by linking the exclusions data to the pupil census conducted in the school year the data pertains to. The 2018/19 exclusions data was linked to the 2018 pupil census data.
This linkage is done using combinations of identifiers and characteristics of the pupils in the exclusions data, including school attended, Scottish Candidate Number, sex and ethnicity. Pupils who move between local authority schools after the date the pupil census was conducted (September of the school year) will still be matched to their census records even if their school differs. However, any pupils who were not attending any local authority school in Scotland on census day will be unable to be matched to the census data. This is likely to occur when a pupil has, for example, moved to Scotland or from an independent school to a local authority funded school during the school year.
For the 2018/19 exclusions collection 99.6% of pupil enrolments with an exclusion recorded were matched to the pupil census. These enrolments accounted for 99.5% of the recorded cases of exclusion.
The criteria used to match the exclusions data to the pupil census were revised for the 2018/19 collection as a result of a new data structure being used during the collection process. As the rate of matching is consistent with previous collections the figures in this publication are comparable with previous figures.
Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation Data
The information on the deprivation of pupils, as measured by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2016, was obtained using the postcode information linked to their pupil census records. Pupils who were unable to be linked to the pupil census therefore have no SIMD data available. An additional 0.1% the total pupil enrolments with an exclusion recorded (accounting for 0.1% of the total cases of exclusion) had no SIMD data available as their postcode information from the 2018 pupil census could not be matched to the SIMD data. Reasons for this include the postcode being missing or invalid.
Notes on the interpretation of the data
While the number of pupils 'removed from the register' has dropped in recent years, local authorities may also reach agreements with parents to move a pupil to another school without the use of a formal 'removal from register', but where the pupil is unlikely to have the option of staying in the school.
Status 05 pupils and pupils attending the mainstream grant-aided school, Jordanhill, are included in the attendance and absence collection but not the exclusions collection. As a result, any exclusions of these pupils will be recorded in one but not the other, making the total number of half days pupils were temporarily excluded for higher in the attendance collection than the exclusions collection. This issue occurs at all levels. However, the cases of exclusion for these pupils and the number of half days these pupils were excluded for are very low. Therefore, that it is not considered to have an impact on the figures from either collection or the use of them together.
There is an additional very small (less than 10 half days) discrepancy in the number of openings recorded as absence due to temporary exclusion in the 2018/19 attendance and absence collection and the total number of half days pupils' exclusions lasted as recorded in the 2018/19 exclusions collection, with the number being higher in the attendance collection. It is unclear whether this is due to over reporting in the attendance data or underreporting of exclusions but the size of the discrepancy means that it does not impact the figures from either collection.
There are no scheduled revisions to these statistics. The Scottish Government policy on revisions and corrections is available here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About/CPSonRevisionsCorrections
It is not always feasible to correct all instances of incorrect statistics across all historical publications and releases. However, all statistics shown in new publication bulletins will be correct at the time of release, including statistics for previous years. The statistics in the latest published edition of the bulletin therefore supersede all previous statistics.
Corrections to published pupil and staff census statistics are described on the Scottish Government website: https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/revisions
Pupil census and school staff 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.
Rounding and symbols
All full time equivalent (FTE) statistics in this publication have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
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
* = value suppressed to protect against the risk of disclosure of personal information
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