Below are real-life examples of how organisations have found census data invaluable in planning local provision of education.

North Ayrshire Council

Supporting educational resource planning

Educational research world-wide has found that the strongest influence on pupils' attainment in school is their mother's level of education. This information is only available in Scotland through the census, which is carried out each decade.

Census statistics can play a vital role in helping local authorities assess educational performance and plan efficiently and effectively when it comes to deciding on educational resources, such as learning support or special teaching tools.

The Principal Component Analysis used by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) and the Scottish Government Education Department, provides each secondary school with a set of schools to compare exam result performance with.

Dr Santarossa Research Officer

"Using information only available at small level every 10 years in the census ..... lets us get an idea of the socio-economic and demographic structure and long-term trends at local level."

The analysis uses a mix of indicators found to influence academic performance, including a measure of mother's level of education and the percentage of pupils coming from households where the main income earner has never worked. Both these indicators are derived at postcode level from census data. The final statistics are used for comparable school groupings as well as during inspections by HMIE and commented on in the inspection reports.

Dr Luoana Santarossa, North Ayrshire Council’s research officer for education and skills, used such data from the 2001 Census to create catchment area profiles for benchmark comparisons of primary schools within the authority.

She said: “Using information only available at small area level every 10 years in the census – such as the mother’s level of education or the ethnic makeup of the local population – lets us get an idea of the socio-economic and demographic structure and long-term trends at local level. This information is then used to assess staffing requirements and specific educational additional support needs.

“It is important to us that the census data is available to central government and national organisations - such as the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education – who produce specialised statistics that we can then access as needed.”