15 June 2021

Education Outcomes for Looked After Children 2019-20

The Scottish Government has today (15 June 2021) published the national Education Outcomes for Looked After Children for 2019-20 statistics report. ‘Looked after’ is the term which is used in legislation in Scotland to mandate care and protection of children.

The report includes information on the attainment and destinations of school leavers and the education outcomes and post-school destinations of 943 care experienced young people between August 2019 and July 2020 and who were in the 2019-20 school leaver cohort. The young people represented in the report account for two per cent of the total school leavers in 2019-20.

The report shows that the education outcomes for care experienced children have improved, however there are still large gaps in attainment compared to the total population of pupils in Scotland.

38% of ‘looked after’ school leavers gained one or more qualifications at SCQF level 5 (up from 35% in 2018-19) and 75% of ‘looked after’ school leavers went on to a positive destination (for example college, training or employment) after leaving school (up from 71% in 2018-19).

The statistics also reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the experiences and outcomes of the pupils. The availability of particular opportunities to 2019-20 school leavers may have been directly affected by the pandemic as start dates for certain apprenticeships and college courses were delayed. Similarly, the cancellation of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams in 2020 may have had an impact on the overall attainment of many 2019-20 school leavers as grades were awarded based on teacher estimates.

Attendance and exclusion data are only reported every second year and figures are therefore not included in this year’s report, however this was also significantly disrupted as a result of the pandemic.

Many care experienced children and young people face additional personal and financial barriers which can impact on these figures, or mean that they go on to study or train at a different time in their life compared to the total population of pupils in Scotland.

CELCIS’ Beyond the Headlines briefing on ‘Going to University from care’ provides further information and analysis on commonly reported statistics.