Education: introduction

Education is as an important determinant of health and is recognised as having a key role in shaping lifelong health and wellbeing. As well as providing qualifications, education can have a much broader beneficial impact on health and wellbeing in terms of developing values, emotional intelligence, self-esteem and social functioning skills. There are striking inequalities in educational attainment in Scotland, which are the focus of considerable policy attention.

The Scottish Government's Equally Well: Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities (2008) notes that education is one of several key entry points for reducing social and health inequalities. The report states that education provides literacy, numeracy, and analytical and communication skills which increase people's employability and ability to cope with a range of issues including health. Education also enhances mental and social wellbeing and social inclusion.

The final report of the WHO's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health Closing the gap in a generation – health equity through action on the social determinants of health (2008) notes that educational attainment is linked to improved health outcomes, partly through its effects on adult income, employment and living conditions. Also, there are strong intergenerational effects, which begin with social inequities in early life contributing to inequalities in educational attainment.

This section of the web site deals with education as a determinant of health, rather than focussing on health education. Information on levels of health knowledge, awareness and attitudes to health related behaviour are provided through Scottish surveys, including the now discontinued Knowledge, Attitudes and Motivations (KAM) module in the Scottish Government's Scottish Health Survey and the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey

The Data page provides links to a range of statistics on school education and lifelong learning, while the Key data sources section provides links to web sites that hold education related data.

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in September 2017.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end March 2018.