Scottish Candidate Number

Date published: 08/12/2022

FOI reference: 22/23 106

Date received: 14/11/2022

Date responded: 08/12/2022

Information requested

Scottish Candidate Numbers, email addresses and Health & Wellbeing Census. I would be grateful if you could provide me with answers to the following questions.

a. Who is responsible for allocating a specific Scottish Candidate Number to a specific child?

b. A Scottish Candidate Number is 9 digits long. Do the first two digits signify the academic year that the number was allocated to a child?

c. What do the third and fourth digits signify?

d. Please can you supply the formula which calculates digit 9 which is the check digit, that might be used in surveys to help ensure a child has entered their number correctly?

e. Why are there clusters of consecutive/near consecutive Scottish Candidate Numbers for groups of children with shared characteristics? (For example, in groups of siblings coming into Scottish schools from outside Scotland, or whole year groups of children in a specific school who joined that school in primary 1)

f. Is the SQA aware that some local authorities use Scottish Candidate Numbers for children?s school email addresses?

g. Did the SQA formally approve use of Scottish Candidate Numbers as email addresses?

h. Did the SQA provide councils with guidance saying it is ?best practice? to use Scottish Candidate Numbers as email addresses?

i. Did the SQA formally approve the capture of Scottish Candidate Numbers in the recent Scottish Government Health & Wellbeing Census?

j. When should parents/children be notified that their child/they has/have been allocated a Scottish Candidate Number and all the purposes it is used for?

k. My understanding is that when Scottish Candidate Numbers were first used, it was for tracking exam results with allocation of the numbers in secondary school. Then the use was extended for child protection purposes to support tracking children across local authority areas so children would not go missing from the system, which meant that allocation of the number was done in primary 1, or when a child enrolled in Scottish education.

Now it seems Scottish Candidate Numbers are used for multiple purposes. For example, capturing a Scottish Candidate Number in the recent Health & Wellbeing Census, meant that in effect, an email address was being captured as well, but in at least one council area, parents and children were not told that, and nor were all teachers who implemented the census in schools.

Who has overall responsibility for providing oversight of all contexts in which Scottish Candidate Numbers are used when capturing, publishing, processing and manipulating children's data, to ensure data processors do not work in silos and so there are no unintended consequences and potential data protection breaches from using Scottish Candidate Numbers in different contexts?

Response

a. Who is responsible for allocating a specific Scottish Candidate Number to a specific child?

Blocks of Scottish Candidate Numbers are sent to SEEMis, the management information system used by Local Authority schools, which are then allocated to primary schools. We are not involved in the process after we send them blocks of SCNs.

We provide the SCN blocks directly to independent secondary schools.

b. A Scottish Candidate Number is 9 digits long. Do the first two digits signify the academic year that the number was allocated to a child?

Yes, the first two digits indicate the year in which a learner is allocated their number.

c. What do the third and fourth digits signify?

The third and fourth digits do not signify anything specific.

d. Please can you supply the formula which calculates digit 9 which is the check digit, that might be used in surveys to help ensure a child has entered their number correctly?

The formula is as follows:

Check digit = 11 - [(1st digit * 3 + 2nd digit * 2 + 3rd digit * 7 + 4th digit * 6 + 5th digit * 5 + 6th digit * 4 + 7th digit * 3 + 8th digit * 2) modulus 11]

If the remainder from the modulus was 1 and the result of the subtraction is therefore 10 the number is invalid. If there is no remainder from the modulus, apply a check digit of 0.

e. Why are there clusters of consecutive/near consecutive Scottish Candidate Numbers for groups of children with shared characteristics? (For example, in groups of siblings coming into Scottish schools from outside Scotland, or whole year groups of children in a specific school who joined that school in primary 1)

As schools are provided with batches of numbers, it is likely that schools allocate them to whole classes or groups. Learners from outside Scotland will be allocated SCNs when they join a Scottish school, which is why siblings may have consecutive or near consecutive numbers.

f. Is the SQA aware that some local authorities use Scottish Candidate Numbers for children’s school email addresses?

SQA is not aware and does not provide guidance to schools on the use of SCNs.

g. Did the SQA formally approve use of Scottish Candidate Numbers as email addresses?

Schools are not required to seek approval from SQA on the use of SCNs or the formulation of email addresses.. This would be a local authority decision.

h. Did the SQA provide councils with guidance saying it is ?best practice? to use Scottish Candidate Numbers as email addresses?

SQA does not provide guidance to schools on the use of SCNs.

i. Did the SQA formally approve the capture of Scottish Candidate Numbers in the recent Scottish Government Health & Wellbeing Census?

SQA had no involvement in the Health & Wellbeing Census.

j. When should parents/children be notified that their child/they has/have been allocated a Scottish Candidate Number and all the purposes it is used for?

Communications relating to SCNs and how they might be used by individual schools is not determined by SQA.

k. My understanding is that when Scottish Candidate Numbers were first used, it was for tracking exam results with allocation of the numbers in secondary school. Then the use was extended for child protection purposes to support tracking children across local authority areas so children would not go missing from the system, which meant that allocation of the number was done in primary 1, or when a child enrolled in Scottish education.

Now it seems Scottish Candidate Numbers are used for multiple purposes. For example, capturing a Scottish Candidate Number in the recent Health & Wellbeing Census, meant that in effect, an email address was being captured as well, but in at least one council area, parents and children were not told that, and nor were all teachers who implemented the census in schools.

Who has overall responsibility for providing oversight of all contexts in which Scottish Candidate Numbers are used when capturing, publishing, processing and manipulating children's data, to ensure data processors do not work in silos and so there are no unintended consequences and potential data protection breaches from using Scottish Candidate Numbers in different contexts?

Local authorities and the Scottish Government are not data processors for SQA, they are both data controllers. This means that they exercise overall control of the personal data being processed, including the Scottish Candidate Number, and are responsible for deciding the purposes and means of processing.

Below is a link to the health and Wellbeing Census. Privacy notices for parents and carers, and for children and young people, can be found on this page. Also provided are a frequently asked questions document and a contact email address for further information.

Health and Wellbeing Census - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)