Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output Covid Scotland: Only half of schools have any Covid cases, as Nicola Sturgeon confirms ban on live audiences at school Christmas concerts
Covid Scotland: Only half of schools have any Covid cases, as Nicola Sturgeon confirms ban on live audiences at school Christmas concerts
Name of producer organisation Public Health Scotland
Name and contact details of person dealing with report Scott Wilson
Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics/Lead Official Scott Heald
Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)
Date of breach report 25/11/2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) T3 Orderly Release
Date of occurrence of breach 24/11/2021

Standard T3 of the Code of Practice for Statistics states that organisations should commit to releasing their statistics in an open and transparent manner that promotes public confidence.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) provided management information in the form of a weekly report relating to COVID cases in schools, to the Scottish Education Recovery Group (chaired by the cabinet secretary for education) and the Scottish COVID National Incident Management Team. Within this report, which had not been made publically available, statistics relating to the number of schools which have had COVID cases was used by a Scottish Government Minister in public and later appeared in newspaper articles.

This issue was raised by colleagues in Education to Public Health Scotland on the 24/11/2021.

The unpublished data used in the newspaper article are currently under development and will be available in the public domain from mid-December. However, at present, this data is not deemed to be robust enough as it has not completed the full signing-off procedures for full publication. However, no data quality assurance issues are anticipated.

Public Health Scotland have not been attributed to these statistics, however as Public Health Scotland’s unpublished data has been used, this is in breach of the code of practice for statistics.

There are no personal identifiable data used, nor is any of the data deemed to be of a statistically disclosive or sensitive nature, therefore the impact of the breach is low from a statistical point of view. However, the nature of the newspaper articles written, could have a political impact following decisions made in relation to COVID guidance for schools in Scotland.

As far as we know, there have been no complaints or communications for any member of the public as at the time of writing. However, this breach was noticed by colleagues in Education who informed Public Health Scotland of the situation.

As a results of this breach, Public Health Scotland have raised this incident with the Scottish Government and will also inform the Statistical Regulator. Public Health Scotland have requested the Scottish Government advise and remind the Minister and colleagues on the rules around the usage of management information in public.

Management Information caveats are already included on the weekly reports to highlight the requirements of this embargoed data. However, Public Health Scotland will add an additional note in the summary to further highlight the embargoed restrictions to help prevent this issue re-occurring.