Attendance and Absence in Scottish Schools Survey, 1995/96 -2010/11
- Attendance and Absence in Scottish Schools Survey, 1995/96 -2010/11
- Principal investigator(s):
- The Scottish Government
- Data collector(s):
- Local authorities
Abstract copyright ADRN.
The Attendance and Absence from Scottish Schools Survey collects information on the attendance and absence records of pupils at all Scottish primary and secondary and special needs schools. The survey was first collected in 1995/1996 at school level. From 2003/04 data were collected at individual pupil level to enable more in depth analysis of attendance and absence in Scottish schools. Since 2010/11 the data have been collected on a biennial basis.
Around 43,000 pupils are absent from Scottish Schools every day. The main purpose of the data collection is for monitoring and policy making relating to attendance and absence in Scottish schools. In general, the Scottish Government collects a wide variety of educational data covering pupils, preschool children, teachers, schools, and free school meal eligibility.
The Attendance and Absence survey data are captured at the end of a school year by local authorities and sent securely to ScotXed for validation and checking before it can be used statistical purposes by the Scottish Government. Each survey contains approximately 700,000 pupil records. The information collected in the survey is limited but covers pupil id, gender, Scottish Candidate Number and reasons for absence. This includes whether a pupil was late in the first half or second half of a school opening, if they are sick, truant, on a family holiday or extended leave and also if they have been temporarily excluded. Some fields are collected at an individual pupil level: pupil ID, postcode, school, gender, stage, status, date of birth, candidate number, number of half days attendance or absence by type (truancy, sickness, holiday etc.).
The Attendance and Absence in Scottish Schools Survey covers all pupils in all local authority primary, secondary and special schools. As specified previously, the survey has been collected since 1995/96 but individual pupil level data are only available from 2003/04. After 2010/11 the data have been collected on a biennial basis. The data for each academic year must be submitted by local authorities to ScotXed in September of each year. Data are then published by the Scottish Government in December of each alternate year.
Pupils arriving late are marked as such by schools, with a distinction made for those arriving in the second half of a morning or the second half of the afternoon. Where a pupil has attended most of an opening it is counted as attendance, but if they have been absent for most of a session it is included as authorised absence. They are still separately identified as being late but present for some of the time in the schools’ systems for management purposes. Schools were also given the possibility of including all late marks on a pupil’s record as attendance, if it is deemed beneficial for encouraging attendance. There are some concerns with the recording of certain variables in the reason for absence field. Several local authorities in certain years do not appear to use the full range of absence categories and are recording most absences as “other authorised absence”. There is also under-recording of sickness rates in some years, with some local authorities recording no sickness at all in their primary and secondary schools.
Data in the Attendance and Absence from Scottish Schools Survey are affected by ongoing differences in recording procedures across local authorities. Comparisons between authorities will therefore be affected by these differences in recording and it should not be stated that other authorities necessarily have, for example, worse sickness or truancy rates. Caution should also be taken when considering year on year national level figures, particularly for sickness, other authorised absence and truancy.
Individual pupil records are available from 2003/04. Prior to this point, information was collected at school level, by stage up to S5, in these four categories: attendance, authorised absence, unauthorised absence due to temporary exclusion, other unauthorised absence. In some authorities schools did not receive full instructions from their local authority about the new definitions, and so for 2003/04 were unable to provide the data in line with the new definitions.
Most schools operate 380 half-day sessions during the school year. However, all schools in the Lothians and Edinburgh and three schools in Highland operate 342 (longer) half-day sessions in the school year.
Research Usage and Linkage
The Attendance and Absence in Scottish Schools Survey has been used specifically to research trends in pupil absence across Scottish schools. It is also used in conjunction with the Annual Survey of Exclusions from Scottish Schools to provide more detailed analysis of the reasons for temporary and permanent pupil absence from schools.
The Attendance and Absence from Scottish Schools Survey 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 Pupil Census Survey, the Annual survey of Exclusions from Scottish Schools and also the Scottish Qualification Authority Attainment datasets to allow for more meaningful analysis of pupil characteristics at school.
From 2007, the Attendance and Absence from Scottish Schools data have been included in the Scottish Longitudinal Study. Consideration is also being given to linking the Scottish Government Education data with health data using probabilistic matching techniques.
Coverage, universe, methodology
- Time period:
- 1995/96-2010/11 ; Collected on a biennial basis thereafter
- Observation units:
- Kind of data:
Individual (micro) level
All pupils in all local authority primary, secondary and special schools in Scotland since 1995/96. However, individual records are only available from 2003/04.
- Time dimensions:
Repeated cross-sectional study
- Sampling procedures:
No sampling (total universe)
- Number of units:
- Approximately 700,000 records per year
- Method of data collection:
Survey data are captured at the end of a school year by local authorities and sent securely to ScotXed for validation and checking.
- Frequency of release:
- Data Updated:
Administrative and access information
- Crown copyright
- Access conditions:
- Contact the Network
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By principal investigator(s):
- Scottish Government (2009) Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 200: General Report, Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government (2010) Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland No. 1.
- Scottish Government (2011) Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland No. 2.
- Scottish Government (2012) Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2012, Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government (2013) Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland No. 4.
Resulting from secondary analysis: