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Pupils in Scotland Census

 

Dataset summary

Full title of dataset: Pupils in Scotland Census.          

Period covered: Electronic data is available on application from 2002 onwards.

Frequency of release: Annual.                

Geography: Scotland.

Data updated: December of each year.

Format output: A range of formats are available.

Size: Approximately 700,000 records per year.

Data quality concerns: Generally of a high standard.  Please see our specific section below for more information.

Example variables: Pupil gender, Date of birth, home postcode, nationality, special and support needs, Gaelic speaking, previous school, free school meal eligibility, asylum status .

Weighted or unweighted: Unweighted.                                  

Access: Yes, via application.

Documentation: Available from the Scottish Government website.

Contact Details: For more information please contact the Education and Analytical Services Division of the Scottish Government on 0131 244 0303 or email : school.stats@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

Overview

The Scottish Government collects a wide variety of educational data covering pupils, preschool children, teachers, schools, and free school meal eligibility.  If you are considering research in these topics then you should make sure that you visit the Scottish Government Education website.  This page provides comprehensive information on the education datasets collected and publications issued.

The Pupils in Scotland Census is an annual dataset collection that captures a wide variety of information on pupils in all publicly funded schools in Scotland.  This includes the Scottish candidate number, pupil personal details, stage of school, status at the school, home postcode, and any support or special needs.  For a full list of the variables contained in the 2009 census please download our Scottish Government PDF pack here.

The Pupil in Scotland census data is captured at a specific point in time (usually in the month of September) each year from schools management information systems.  It is then transferred from local authorities securely to ScotXed for validation and checking before it can be used statistical purposes.  Each census contains approximately 700, 000 pupil records.

Although information on free school meal eligibility is captured in the Pupil census, it is based on those pupils that are registered to receive it at the time of the census. More complete information is collected in the February School Meals Survey. The figures collected in the annual School Meals Survey are currently used in funding calculations and in benchmarking schools.

Please note that data on pupil attendance and absence is also collected in a separate survey by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government hold electronic records of the Pupils in Scotland Census from 2002.  Access to the electronic data is available on application   If you require information on the Pupils in Scotland Census prior to 2002 please contact the Education and Analytical Services Division to see discuss your requirements in the first instance.      

Coverage

Geography
The Pupils in Scotland Census provides records on all pupils in all publicly funded schools (including both local authority and grant aided).  Data on pupils in independent Scottish schools is collected by the Scottish Government using their annual independent Schools Census.

Time
Scottish Government hold electronic records from 2002. If you require information on the Pupils in Scotland Census prior to 2002 please contact the Education and Analytical Services Division to see discuss your requirements in the first instance.      

Data updates
The Pupils in Scotland Census is collected on a specific day in September of each year.  The data is then normally available from early December in the same year.

Suitability

Examples of usage
The Pupils in Scotland Census has been used for a wide variety of research purposes.  For example it has been used to identify trends in pupil numbers, develop strategies to improve access to school education for pupils with disabilities, and identified ethnic backgrounds of pupils in different geographical areas.

Publications using this research data are available from our Publication Hub here.

Technical guidance
Data from the Pupils in Scotland Census is pulled directly from individual school information management systems.  The information on these systems is initially collected from pupil enrolment forms and is considered to be of a high standard.

The special needs and support needs variables classification in the Pupils in Scotland Census has changed over time.  If your research covers this area please contact the Education and Analytical Services Division first to discuss your proposal.

Free school meal data collected in the Pupils in Scotland Census only counts those pupils who are registered for free school meals at the time of the census.  It does not collect information on pupils that are entitled but chose not to receive it.  This information can be found in the Scottish Government’s separate School Meals Census.

Where a school has more than one department, for example a secondary school with a primary department, these are counted as separate schools.

The Scottish Government produce detailed background notes for all of their Education dataset publications.  These are available from their website and must be read before conducting any research.

Access

Applications for all the Scottish Government educational datasets follow the same procedure.  General information on their data access policies can be found  here and summary level education data is available from here.

Please complete the ‘Application form for data access’ which can be downloaded from the link above and is also available in our Scottish Government PDF pack here.  This form provides a template for you to write your application.  A summary of the information that you will need to provide is detailed below:

  • Your organisation and key worker details
  • Your research proposal, purpose and methodology
  • Details of the datasets and variables required (including reasons for any identifiable data)
  • Details of other datasets that will be linked to the requested data.
  • If the research will involve contacting individuals
  • Security of the data during research
  • Arrangements to allow the Scottish Government to review their data.

Once you have completed the application, you must sign the form and then post or email as directed. The Education and Analytical Services Division will then give consideration to your application.  For more complex requests your application maybe referred to the Scottish Government’s Data Access Panel for a decision.

If your application is successful then typically you will receive the requested data within one month.  You will also need to sign a data access agreement form which is available on their website and in our Scottish Government PDF pack here for reference. The data will be sent to you in a format agreed in discussion at the time of application. There is no charge for the data.  

Please note that some Scottish Government Education datasets contain sensitive variables such as the date of birth and the address details of pupils.  It is highly unlikely that these would be released for academic research under normal circumstances.  If you are considering making an application for data to include these variables please contact the Education and Analytical Services Division in the first instance to discuss your proposal.

Data quality

The Pupil in Scotland Census is typically of a high quality as information is recorded direct from pupil enrolment forms and captured onto school management information systems.

We would recommend reading the background notes for the various Pupil in Scotland Census annual publications released by the Scottish Government on their website.  They provide a good indication and important information relating to the quality of data and any changes that have been made from the previous year.

Considerations

Please consider carefully whether you require access to disclosive data in the first instance. Your application may then need to be approved by the Scottish Government’s Data Access Panel.

If you are considering conducting longitudinal research please contact the Education and Analytical Services Division in the first instance to discuss your requirements.   There may also be changes in classification of variables over time.

 As the Pupils in Scotland Census is an annual snapshot, it does not account for any movements of students during the school year.

Linkage

The Pupil in Scotland Census contains the Scottish Candidate number (a unique number allocated to each pupil by the Scottish Qualifications Authority at Primary 1). 

In theory, this field will allow you to link to the other main Scottish education datasets including the Scottish Government’s Destination of Leavers surveys, Attendance and Absence survey, Exclusion Survey, Free school meal survey and also the Scottish Qualification Authority attainment datasets.

From 2007, the Pupils in Scotland Census data has been included in the Scottish Longitudinal Study.

Please register with us to receive any future updates on this dataset.

Research users / comments

Please contact us with any comments regarding this dataset.

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