15 August 2023

Education Outcomes for Looked After Children 2021-22

The Scottish Government has today (15 August 2023) published the national Education Outcomes for Looked After Children for 2021-22 statistics report. The report uses the current legal definition of ‘Looked After Children’ under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, which is broadly defined as children in the care of their local authority.

The report includes information on the attainment, stages, and post-school destinations of ‘looked after’ young people who left school in 2021-22 (1,068 young people, accounting for 1.9% of the total school leavers in 2021-22). It also includes new ‘experimental statistics’, used in the report for the first time this year, which estimate that 1,356 young people who had been ‘looked after’ at any point since turning 12, and 2,030 young people who had been ‘looked after’ at any point since turning 5, left school in 2021-22.

The report shows that the education outcomes for ’looked after’ young people have generally improved in recent years, with most staying in school for longer and achieving higher qualifications than the previous year. However, there are still gaps in attainment compared to the total population of pupils in Scotland.

For pupils ‘looked after’ at any point from August 2021-July 2022, 78.3% of school leavers gained one or more qualifications at SCQF level 4 or better (up from 70.9% in 2020-21) and 84.8% of school leavers went on to an initial positive destination (for example college, training, or employment) after leaving school (down from 86% in 2020-21).

The report also shows that a lower proportion of ‘looked after’ pupils achieved Curriculum for Excellence Levels (CfE) relevant to their stage compared with all pupils, with the largest gaps in reading, writing, listening and talking, and numeracy.

Attendance and exclusion data are reported every second year and were therefore not included in the 2021-22 report.

Many care experienced children and young people can face additional personal, social and financial barriers which can impact on these outcome indicators. Their personal circumstances may mean that they go on to study, train or work at a different time in their life, or through different routes, 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.

Read the Education Outcomes report

Read the CELCIS Beyond the Headlines briefing