The RCS Children’s Wellbeing surveys are commissioned by the Scottish Government as part of the Realigning Children’s Services (RCS) programme to support effective strategic decision making and commissioning of children’s services by the participating CPPs.

In Tranche 3, the RCS programme consists of two online surveys about health and wellbeing in each of the three participating CPPs: one undertaken with primary school pupils (P5 to P7) and one undertaken with secondary school pupils (S1 to S4). The de-identified survey data is also securely linked to a limited range of administrative and geographical data about the respondents held by local authorities.

All local authority schools in the participating CPP are invited to take part in the surveys, with the exception of those solely responsible for pupils with additional support needs. Surveys are administered online, in a classroom setting. Participation in the survey is voluntary. Parents/carers and pupils are able to opt out ahead of the survey. Pupils are allowed to opt out at any time during the survey or skip any questions they do not wish to answer.

Survey of pupils in P5 to P7 (contractor – ScotCen)

The survey questions in Tranche 3 are similar to those asked in earlier tranches of RCS. The questionnaires are designed to measure key indicators of children’s wellbeing, and mainly comprise of questions drawn from other studies including the Growing Up in Scotland study (GUS), the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and the Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS).

Pupils in both the primary and secondary school surveys are asked questions that related to six domains of interest: physical health and health behaviours, mental wellbeing, family relationships, peer relationships and friendships, learning environment, and their local area.

Children are asked to complete a web-based questionnaire during a lesson at primary school.

All children, in the participating CPPs, in P5-P7 will be asked to complete the same questionnaire, regardless of which school year they are in. The differences in age are unlikely to have a significant effect on how they interpret and respond to the questions.

The survey takes around 20 minutes to complete. It uses clear and simple language that the children are likely to use themselves. The questions will are short, simple and well-defined, and avoid ambiguous or abstract ideas.

Audio support will be available with this survey, which means that all the instructions, questions and answer categories on screen are also read out via an audio recording. Each child will be allocated an individual set of headphones.

Survey of pupils in S1 to S4 (contractor – Ipsos Mori)

This is a new survey based upon the Scottish Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS), with additional questions on wellbeing.

The survey is online and takes around 25 minutes to complete. Young people in years S1 to S4 in participating Community Planning Partnership (CPPs) are invited to take part in the survey. Again participation is entirely voluntary and a young person can choose to skip any question or opt out at any time.

RCS runs alongside the national SALSUS survey. Some S2 and S4 pupils in these schools will take a combined questionnaire. All other secondary school pupils will take the main RCS secondary questionnaire.


The survey is provided on a secure website created and managed by the researchers: ScotCen for primary schools and Ipsos Mori for secondary schools.

Each child’s answers are de-identified which means the RCS team do not know the names of the children that have taken part- we will only see the responses along with their year group and school.

All the information from the survey will always be confidential and secure (this means nobody outside the study team will be able to see it) and it will be impossible to identify anybody from the published results.

The survey’s privacy notice explains how and why we collect data through the Children’s Wellbeing Surveys, how we use it and what we do to protect the information collected.

There is a separate privacy notice and cookie policy for this website.

Developing the survey

The survey asks carefully researched and checked questions associated with wellbeing.

We consulted with teachers, as well as experts in the field of child wellbeing, when devising the questions and their responses.  Similar surveys have already been asked in other parts of Scotland.

The surveys are set up to allow participants to easily skip any questions they do not want to answer. Parents are also given the opportunity to opt their child out of participating, ahead of the survey being conducted.

Survey findings

The survey findings will be used in individual school reports (where there are more than 20 responses to each question) and in local authority level reports. No findings will be reported where there are less than 20 responses. Individual responses will not be identifiable nor will they be available for the local authority to use with the child/young person or his/her parents/carers.

Who is running the survey?

The Scottish Government in collaboration with individual local authorities has asked ScotCen – an independent, not for profit, social research organisation – to run the wellbeing survey for primary schools. Ipsos MORI is running it within secondary schools.

Two public bodies, the National Records of Scotland Indexing team and electronic Data Research and Innovation Service will be responsible for the data linkage aspect of the programme.

For more information on the process and background of the surveys please see the Families and Professionals pages.