Statistics Publication Notice
Provisional Pupil Numbers 2004, Projections and Children Educated Outwith School 2003/04
9 November, 2004
(revised 8 February 2006 (1))
A Scottish Executive National Statistics Publication
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This publication brings together education data used in the funding formula for local authority grant aided expenditure (GAE), and the results of the annual survey of children educated outwith schools.
The main findings are: -
Provisional pupil numbers
- There were 722,359 pupils (excluding adults) attending local authority primary, secondary and special schools in Scotland at September 2004, a decrease of 8,300 pupils from September 2003.
- The number of pupils in local authority primary schools was 397,853, a decrease of 7,700 pupils from September 2003.
- There were 317,494 pupils attending local authority secondary schools, a decrease of 345 pupils from September 2003.
- There were 7,012 pupils based in local authority special schools in Scotland, compared with 7,267 in September 2003
- There were 2,789 local authority schools (2,218 primary, 385 secondary and 186 special) in Scotland at September 2004. The net reduction of 29 primary schools since 2003 includes eight schools which have merged with others administratively, but which are still using the same buildings.
Children educated outwith school
- There were 1,314 children who received local authority education at home or in hospital due to prolonged ill health, or through special arrangements put in place as a result of family illness. This compares with 1,298 in 2002/03, an increase of one per cent.
- A further 151 children received education at home under 'other extraordinary circumstances'. Examples of 'extraordinary circumstances' include pupils unable to attend school because of geographical remoteness, travellers' children who may spend part of the school year outwith school and prolonged adverse weather affecting the ability of island children to attend school.
- In 2003/04, 411 children were known by local authorities to be receiving home education as a result of parental choice, who had at some point in the past been in local authority school education. This figure had risen by 24 (six per cent) from the previous year.
- Another 134 children who had never been in local authority school education were known by local authorities to be receiving home education as a result of parental choice, a rise of 6 (five per cent) from the previous year.
- The total number of children known to be educated at home due to parental choice, 545, represents 0.08 per cent of the population aged 5-15. It is recognised that there may be more children educated outwith school who are not currently known to local authorities, and that increases in numbers known may be due to better information management.
- The total number of pupils receiving publicly funded education is projected to decrease steadily from the current level of 788 thousand in 2003, to 675 thousand in 2014, a decrease of 14 per cent.
- The number of pupils in publicly funded primary schools is projected to continue to fall steadily from the current level of 406 thousand, to 372 thousand in 2008, and then more slowly to 350 thousand in 2014, 14 per cent less than at present.
- The number of pupils in publicly funded secondary schools is projected to decrease slowly from the current level of 318 thousand to 313 thousand in 2006. A steady fall is then anticipated so that the number in 2014 is estimated to be 268 thousand, 16 per cent less than at present.
- The number of pupils in publicly funded special schools are projected to fall in line with the anticipated decrease in the number of children of school age, but have also been adjusted to account for the potential impact of mainstreaming of pupils with special educational needs.
- The percentage change in the number of pupils in publicly funded primary schools from 2003 to 2006 ranged from a 1.9 per cent decrease in West Lothian to a 11.8 per cent decrease in Argyll & Bute, excluding any effect of mainstreaming of pupils with special education needs.
- The percentage change in the number of pupils in publicly funded secondary schools from 2003 to 2006 ranged from a 4.2 per cent increase in Falkirk to a 6.2 per cent decrease in Dundee, excluding any effect of mainstreaming of pupils with special education needs.
(1) Tables 6 and 7: Pupil projections revised for South Lanarkshire
Table 1: Provisional pupil numbers, by sector and local authority, September 2004
Table 2: Children Educated Outwith School in Scotland, 2000/01 - 2003/04
Table 3: Children Educated Outwith School, by Local Authority, 2003/04
Table 4: 2003-based Scotland level pupil projections
Table 5: 2003-based Scotland Level Pupil Projections
Table 6: 2002-based Local Authority Pupil Projections
Table 7: 2002-based Local Authority Pupil Projections
Table 8: Pupils entitled to free school meals by sector, 1997 to 2004
Table 9: Entitled pupils taking free school meals by sector, 1997 to 2004
Table 10: Pupils in education authority primary schools
Table 11: Pupils in education authority secondary schools
Provisional pupil numbers
- Provisional pupil totals would normally be available from data collected as part of the annual pupil census. However, due to software problems in some LAs, it was not possible to produce provisional pupil information from this data in time for this year's GAE exercise. A separate collection was necessary for these local authorities.
- Comprehensive analyses of the results of the September 2004 pupil census will be published in Spring 2005.
Children Educated Outwith Schools
- This survey was run for the first time in Autumn 2001. LAs provided details of all children who were educated outwith school at any point during the school year, whether out of necessity (Section 14 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980) or by parental choice (Section 30). The survey replaces and extends the previous survey of pupils educated outwith school (SC4) which provided only a snapshot picture of Section 14 children during a given week in September. This year's results are therefore comparable with figures from 2000/01 onwards, but not comparable with earlier figures.
- Following the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000 education authorities must make special arrangements for the education of children who are unable to attend school because of prolonged ill-health and exemptions caused by family illness. The rise in this figure this year is likely to reflect increased implementation of the Act. The Executive issued guidance to authorities on this duty in December 2001. Authorities may also make special arrangements for children who cannot attend because of extraordinary circumstances.
- Section 30 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 states that parents have a duty to provide efficient education for their school age children which is suited to their age, ability and aptitude. They may do this by ensuring that their child attends a local authority school regularly, or by other means, including the provision of education at home. Children who receive education at home under Section 30 do so as a result of parental choice, and are distinct from those who, due to illness or exceptional circumstances, are unable to attend school.
- Parents of children who have started to attend a local authority school must seek the LA's consent before withdrawing their child from school to educate them at home. LAs reported that they were aware of 411 such children who were educated at home in 2003/04. Parents of children who have never attended a local authority school are not required to seek the consent of their LA in order to educate them at home. LAs reported that they were aware of 134 such children, although there may be others. If LAs become aware of such children they have a responsibility to ensure that an efficient education is being provided.
- In March 2004 the Scottish Executive published guidance for local authorities on the circumstances in which parents may choose to educate their children at home. The purpose of this guidance is to promote a consistency of approach across Scotland by setting out the legislative position, providing advice on the roles and responsibilities of education authorities and parents, and giving examples of good practice. The guidance is available on the Scottish Executive website at
Pupil number projections
- The information in this News Release is derived from:
- Census of Pre-school Education Centres, 2003 and previous.
- Pupil Census September 2003 and School Census September 1996 - 2002.
- General Register Office for Scotland - mid-year population estimates up to 2003 for Scotland level pupil projections and mid-year population estimates to 2002 for local authorities.
- General Register Office for Scotland - 2003 based population projections for the Scotland level pupil projections, 2002 based population projections for local authority primary and secondary pupil projections.
- The methodology employed in projecting numbers of children in pre-school centres uses the 2003 Pre-school Census pupil counts, split by age, and population projections.
- The assumption was made that uptake rates, in response to the Government commitment to provide a pre-school place for all three and four year olds, will be:
- 90 per cent for 'three year olds' (ante pre-school year)
- around 100 per cent for 'four year olds' (pre-school year).
- Figures used in these projections are however full-time equivalents. They are therefore lower than shown in previous years.
Primary and Secondary
- Firstly, the model calculated the participation rate of pupils of each age, in each sector, compared to the total number of children according to the population estimates. (Data on the age of pupils were available from the 2002 and 2003 ScotXed pupil census. For previous years, data giving the stage of the pupil were converted to age using cohort-specific age/stage patterns from the 2002 and 2003 pupil census)
- Then, for a given cohort moving through the school, the participation rate for a given year was projected using the knowledge of the previous year's participation rate for that cohort, together with the average change in participation rates at that age. (For example, if 98.5% of 6 year-olds were in mainstream primaries in 2003, and on average over the past four years the participation rate of 6 year-olds had dropped 0.3 percentage points by the time they are 7, then the projected participation rate for 7 year-olds in 2004 would be 98.2%.)
- A similar methodology was used for 16 - 18 year olds, but some changes were made to avoid distortion due to leavers. The average change in participation rates were based on fewer years, so that more recent years were given greater weight. In addition, where the participation rate for 17 and 18 year-olds resulted in a lower participation rate than the average over 2002 and 2003, the average was used instead.
- The participation rates for 19 year olds was calculated using the 4 year average rates for 1999-2003.
- Participation rates for cohorts not yet in the system were calculated using four year average rates for 3, 4 and 5 year-olds, which are then projected forward using the same methodology as above.
- The projections for pre-school and primary school age children are increasingly affected by predicted birth rates and unknown participation rates - this introduces a greater element of uncertainty. The fall in projected numbers is principally due to very low birth rates over the past few years.
- For the Scotland level pupil projections, the General Register Office for Scotland 2003-based population projections were used. However, 2002-based population projections were used to calculate the local authority primary and secondary pupil projections (these being the latest available). The General Register Office for Scotland 2003-based population projections still indicates the trend of a slowly falling population (the same as the 2002-based projections), but the 2003-based projections indicates that this fall will take place from 2005 onwards. Therefore, it is not now expected that the Local Authority projected pupil numbers in 2004 to 2006 will eventually be as low as shown in this publication.
- Pupil numbers in special schools are projected using age-specific participation rates. The lower estimate from the Audit Scotland/ HMIE publication Moving to Mainstream has then been used, phased in over 7 years, to adjust the figures to account for the potential impact of mainstreaming of pupils, arising from section 15 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000. These have been subtracted from the special school figures and added to primary and secondary schools in proportion to the primary/secondary ratio in mainstream pupil numbers.
Free School meal entitlement
- Figures for free school meal entitlement, originally published in June 2004, have since been revised by some authorities. We publish here the revised figures used in GAE calculations. The 'School Meals in Scotland January 2004' publication is available at the following website http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00347-00.asp, but please note that the tables in this publication have not been revised. However a revised school level dataset is available at
- This is a National Statistics publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
- The team responsible for producing this document were : Mal Cooke, Bianca Heggie, Debbie Hall, Colin Gallacher.
- All tables are available on the Scottish Executive website at
- Public enquiries (non-media) about the information contained in this statistical publication notice should be addressed to Mal Cooke, Statistician, Scottish Executive Education Department, Room 1-A, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.
Telephone 0131 244 1689 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Media enquiries about the information in this statistical publication notice should be addressed to:
Marion MacKay: 0131 244 3070
Statistical Publication Notice
9 November, 2004