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Summary: Age and Children & Families

Playing ChildrenSummary: Age and Children and Families

  • In June 2014 there were 1,031,761 children (under 18 years old) in Scotland. Of this, 227,497 children were aged 0-3 years and 528,254 children were aged 0-8 years.

Source: Mid-2017 Population Estimates Scotland (Last updated: April 2018, NRS)

  • At 31 July 2017, there were 14,897 looked after children - a decrease of 3% from 2016. This is the fifth consecutive year the numbers have decreased following a peak of 16,248 in 2012. The amount of care leavers each year has been consistently more than the amount starting, although both numbers have also been declining.
  • There were 4,186 children who started to be looked after between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017. Over the last 10 years children have started to be looked after at younger ages. In 2007, 30% of children starting to be looked after were aged under five. By 2017 this had risen to 38%. The figures have been broadly steady since 2011. A large proportion of this group are the under-one year olds, and the numbers in this youngest group have almost doubled since 2007. There was a corresponding decrease in the proportion of children aged 12+ being looked after (those aged 5-11 remained similar).

  • There were an average of 76 residents in secure care accommodation throughout 2016-17, a decrease from 85 residents in the previous year. These numbers include an increase in placements from the rest of the UK - there was a 29% decline in residents from Scotland. 72% of residents were under 16 at 31st July 2017. The percentage of residents 13 years old or younger increased to 18% from 10% in 2016.

  • The number of children on the child protection register has fluctuated regularly, but has declined over the last 3 years, with a decline of 3% since last year. The majority of children on the child protection register are under 5 years old (including some unborn children). This has been the case since 2008.

Source: Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland 2016/17 (Last updated: March 2018)

  • Looked after children tend to have lower levels of educational attainment than non-looked after children. These differences are, in part, linked to the fact that looked after children tend to leave school at younger ages. In 2016/17 72% of children looked after for the full year and 75% of those looked after for part of the year were aged 16 and under (i.e. they left school at the earliest point they could), compared with 28% of school leavers more generally. The proportion of leavers who were aged 16 and under has decreased since 2009/10, including among looked after leavers, but the gap between looked after leavers and other leavers remains consistent.

Chart 1: Age of all school leavers and those who were looked after, 2016/17

Source: Education Outcomes for Looked After Children 2016/17 (Last updated: June 2018)

  • In September 2017 there were 95,839 registrations for ELC local authority funded places. This is a decrease of 1,068 compared to 2016 registrations for ELC in Scotland.  Eligible children are estimated from mid-year population estimates. As children may be counted more than once if they are registered to receive local authority funded ELC at more than one centre this figure will overestimate true uptake.

Source: Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland, No.8: 2017 Edition (Last updated: December 2017)


Useful Links

Age page

Children and Families page

National Performance framework

National Performance Framework

Fifty National Indicators enable progress towards the achievement of the National Outcomes and ultimately the delivery of the Purpose to be tracked.

Indicators are chosen to show how the Scottish Government are progressing on the range of Outcomes. Equality breakdowns illustrate how protected groups are progressing towards achievement of the National Outcomes, particularly ‘we have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society’.

National Indicator number 17: Increase the proportion of healthy weight children, data tables

- progress against this National Indicator, broken down by Age, can be found under the 'What more do we know about the National indicator?' heading.

Publications and Outputs

Publications and Outputs

Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland 2016/17 (March 2018) A compendium of statistics on looked after children, child protection and secure care statistics. Covers age, gender, religion and additional support needs

Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland, No.8: 2017 Edition (December 2017) Contains the results of the annual pupil census, annual teacher census, early learning and childcare data , school estates data, attendance and absence data and exclusions data. It includes statistics on teachers by age and gender; and on pupils by ethnicity, gender and additional support needs


Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Age Evidence Review (2013) A comprehensive review of available evidence in relation to age equality.



Official Statistics

statistics.gov.scot - Explore, visualise and download over 200 datasets from a range of producers. Start browsing by theme, organisation, or geography. Or access programmatically using our APIs. A range of datasets are available that can be broken down by age group


External Links

External Links

Please note that you will leave the Scottish Government web site by clicking on any of the following links, and that the Scottish Government and its staff are not responsible for content external to this web site. The research below has been carried out independently of the Scottish Government and the findings do not necessarily represent the views of the Scottish Government or Scottish Ministers

External Research Organisations

Scottish Children's Reporter Administration - Produces statistics on children and young people referred to a Children's Hearing. Includes breakdowns by age and gender