This year’s conference will include an update on the study, presentation of findings from the latest Scottish Government report on Life at Age 14, and presentations from research projects which have recently used the study data, sharing important perspectives on the issues that young people and their families in Scotland face today. Life at Age 14 explores the experience of school, educational aspirations, mental health and life satisfaction amongst other topics.

ScotCen is pleased to announce that the keynote address will be given by Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, and the proceedings will be chaired by Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland.

This event is free and will be held online via Zoom. All are welcome to attend, particularly those working in research and policy, in education, with young people and their families.

Time: 09:30-13:00
Date: 21 June 2022
Location: Zoom

Register for the event on Zoom


The report is based on 2019/2020 data collection when most of the young people in the study were in their third year of secondary school (S3).

Key findings include:

  • Around six in ten young people always/often enjoyed learning (61%) while just over four in ten always/often looked forward to going to school (44%).
  • Just over half of young people felt at least a little pressured by the schoolwork they had to do (54%), while three in ten felt this a lot or quite a lot (30%).
  • 63% of young people stated at age 14 that they wanted to go to college or university after leaving school.
  • Just over half of young people indicated that they have a friend they could talk to about things that worried them (56%) and/or that they could talk to their parents (53%).

To find out more, access the report here.

Data from Sweep 10 of our study, on which this report is based, is now available from the UK Data Service. Find out more about using data from GUS.


The report on transitions from primary to secondary school uses data gathered from children around the time they were in their penultimate year of primary school (Primary 6) and then again when they were in their first year of secondary school (Secondary 1/S1) to explore their experiences of this important phase of their lives.

The report finds that whilst the majority of children report a positive or moderate transition experience, a notable minority reported a negative experience. Experiencing a negative transition was associated with a range of factors including being a boy, being socioeconomically disadvantaged and living in an area of high deprivation.

The second report uses data collected when children were aged 12 to provide an insight into the prevalence of risky online behaviours. The behaviours covered included sending personal information to someone you had never met face-to-face or lying to your parents about what you do online.

Findings include two-thirds of children had not engaged in any risky online behaviours and the most common risky behaviour was adding someone they had never met face-to-face to their friends/contacts list.

You can read the transitions report here and the online behaviours report here.


In an exciting new development for the study, GUS has joined a UK-wide consortium of longitudinal studies, CLOSER. CLOSER is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and aims to “maximise[…] the use, value and impact of longitudinal studies to help improve our understanding of key social and biomedical challenges”. This includes publishing a wide range of useful resources for those interested in longitudinal research as well as arranging a range of training courses and events.

GUS will be joining the consortium along with 10 other studies, including another Scottish study, Generation Scotland. Being part of the consortium extends our existing links with similar studies across the UK and will help to promote use of the data, helping researchers from across the UK address important questions about what it’s like growing up in Scotland, as well as across the UK.

You can find out more on the CLOSER website, including the GUS profile page.


Due to the Coronavirus outbreak all face-to-face interviewing has been stopped. To allow us to continue the study, we are inviting families who did not take part in the age 14/15 in-home interview to take part in an online questionnaire and telephone interview instead.

You can find links to the online surveys below. To go to the survey, either click the link or copy and paste it into your browser:

To take the survey for parents and carers, go to

To take the survey for young people, go to

To access the online survey you will need your 8-digit access code. This is printed on your letter. Your interviewer can also give you your access code over the phone.

If you have any issues logging in or any questions about this year’s interviews, you can contact us on or call us for free on 0800 652 2704.


Due to the coronavirus outbreak, all interviewer home visits on GUS and other surveys have been stopped. But we’d really like to speak to all of our families, so we hope that those of you still to take part will complete an online questionnaire and telephone interview instead. The information you provide helps those making decisions on important issues affecting young people and their families.

We’ll be contacting you in June and July to provide more information. Following that, one of our interviewers will be in touch by phone to arrange a short interview at a time convenient to you and to answer any questions you may have about the online questionnaire. The interviewer will not be visiting your home.

As in previous years, we would also like the young people in the study to take part and we hope that they will complete a short web questionnaire and telephone interview. We will provide more details about this when we get in touch with you.

We are really grateful for all of your help so far and very much look forward to finding out how you’re getting on.  We’ll be updating our Frequently Asked Questions with information about the changes.  In the meantime, please get in touch if you have any questions. You can contact us free on 0800 652 2704 or by emailing


A journal article which presented findings from analysis of GUS data was nominated for a prestigious research award.  The article, “Early Maternal Employment and Children’s Vocabulary and Inductive Reasoning Ability: A Dynamic Approach ” by Michael Kühhirt and Markus Klein, published in Child Development in 2017, was nominated for the Elizabeth Ross Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research.  Further details of the award can be found via this link:


This report presents some initial findings about the lives of 12-year-old children living in Scotland, using data collected from the Growing Up in Scotland study (GUS).

Read the report here.


This report drew on measures of language ability which were gathered from children participating in the Growing Up in Scotland study at the time they were about to or had recently entered primary school and again when they were in Primary 6.

The findings in this report suggest that there is still a gap between more and less advantaged children as children reach the last years of primary school. This is the case regardless of whether the gap is measured with respect to family income, area deprivation or the parent’s level of education.

Download the report summary or read the full report here.


This briefing summarises findings from three papers using data from the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) study to investigate children’s wellbeing. GUS is a study of around 5,000 children (born in 2004/2005) and their families across Scotland. Read the full briefing here.


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been associated with a range of poorer health and social outcomes throughout the life course; however, to date they have primarily been conducted retrospectively in adulthood. This paper sets out to determine the prevalence of ACEs at age 8 in a recent prospective birth cohort and examine associations between risk factors in the first year and cumulative ACEs. Read here.


Study published by the Scottish Government which investigates trajectories of overweight and obesity during the primary school years and identifies key risk factors. Read it here


We’ve released our annual newsletter to GUS families, providing a summary of all that’s been achieved in the last year. Read it here


A new report has been published in Pediatric Obesity, focusing on GUS data around the relationship between sweetened beverage consumption in children and overweight or obese weight outcomes.

Read it here.


Children in our first birth cohort were invited to take part in a photography competition over Christmas. You can see the winner and runners up here 


A new paper, which uses GUS data to analyse rates of physical activity among children, has been published in BMJ Open. Read here.


GUS data from Birth Cohort 1 Sweep 8 is now available from the UK data service. The data features interviews with children in their first term of Primary 6, and is made up of interviews with carers, children, and cognitive tests. Click here to find out more.


Read this article by GUS researcher Line Knudsed in the Parenting Across Scotland newsletter.


New report from Skafida and Chambers on the positive association between sugar consumption and dental decay prevalence independent of oral hygiene in pre-school children.

Read here.


This report draws on data from Birth Cohort 1 (BC1) and Birth Cohort 2 (BC2) combined with administrative data from the Care Inspectorate to provide an understanding of characteristics of early learning and childcare (ELC) use and provision in Scotland.

Read full report


Read a blog from ScotCen researcher Eilidh Currie on GUS’s achievements in 2017. 


This report uses data from the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) longitudinal study to investigate the employment patterns of mothers during the first 5 years of their child’s life. The analysis draws on data relating to children in 2 birth cohorts: Birth Cohort 1 (BC1), children born in 2004/5 and Birth Cohort 2 (BC2), children born in 2010/11. Surveys were conducted when the children were aged 10 months, 3 years and 5 years, spanning the period 2005 – 2015.

Read full report


Data from the second sweep of GUS Birth Cohort 2 (6,000 children born 2010/11) is now available from the UK Data Service.

For a user guide for the data, click here.

For a deposit form, click here.

If you are using the data or plan to do so, please keep in touch by e-mailing It is important for to us to monitor how the data is being used to demonstrate the impact of the study.


The Scottish Government has published a new report ‘Objectively measured physical activity levels of Scottish children: analysis from a sub-sample of 10-11 year-olds in the Growing Up in Scotland study’.

Link to the full report.  

This report uses GUS data to explore the physical activity and sedentary levels in Scottish 10-11 year old children. Using two approaches, self-reported and objectively measured physical activity, the analysis examines differences in activity levels by gender and area deprivation. 

The report was written by Paul McCrorie and Anne Ellaway from the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow. This work part of a wider academic study exploring the environmental determinants of physical activity in young people that also incorporates GPS data on where young people are most active (SPACES – Studying Physical Activity in Children’s Environments Across Scotland).


A new report published by the Scottish Government explores the quality of father-child relationships as perceived by children aged 10 years old, the factors predicting less positive father-child relationships, and how father-child relationships relate to other aspects of children’s wellbeing.

Download the report

The report was commissioned by the Scottish Government as part of Year of the Dad 2016. The report was written by Alison Parkes, Julie Riddell, Daniel Wight and Katie Buston at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow




A new report published by the Scottish Government explores the relationships between parent-child activities and language development and enjoyment of reading in two of the groups of children taking part in GUS.

The report compares language development at age 3 and explores whether any differences are linked to changes in early parent-child activities across the two cohorts. The report also explores whether any changes in home learning activities across the cohorts appear to be linked to the introduction of the Scottish Book Trust’s Bookbug programme and the Scottish Government’s PlayTalkRead campaign.

Click on the link below to read the report:

Language development and enjoyment of reading: impacts of early parent-child activities in two Growing Up in Scotland cohorts


GUS Birth Cohort 1 Parents Questionnaire 2017

We have answered some of the questions you may have about the online questionnaire.  You can take part by clicking the link above.

Who is carrying out the study?

The study is conducted by ScotCen Social Research on behalf of the Scottish Government. We work in collaboration with academic researchers from the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, based at Edinburgh University, and the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, at Glasgow University.

How does this stage of the survey differ from previous stages?

Previously one of our interviewers visited you in your home but this time round we’d like you to complete an online questionnaire. This will only take 10 minutes to complete.  As in previous years, the questions will be about you and your child.

What will happen to any information I give?

All the information you give us is treated in strict confidence under the Data Protection Act 1998.  The results collected are used for research purposes only.

Is the information I provide safe online?

We take our responsibility to keep your personal information secure very seriously.  To make sure your information is protected we use a secure website (HTTPS). This is the same type of website that you would generally see when shopping online. As part of our commitment to the security of your information, ScotCen Social Research has regular internal and external audits of its information security, and is accredited to the International Standard for Information Security, ISO 27001:2005.

I don’t have or I have lost the “access code” to get into the questionnaire.

No problem, you can either call the freephone helpline on 0800 652 2704 or email us at

Can I complete the survey on my smartphone/tablet?

Yes, the questionnaire can be completed using a desktop or laptop computer, a smartphone or a tablet device. You just need to be connected to the internet.

Do I have to complete the questionnaire in one go?

It should only take 10 minutes to complete, but if you are interrupted and need to exit the questionnaire then you will be able to return to where you left off. The questionnaire will be saved automatically, so you can close your internet browser and return to complete it at a more convenient time. To regain access to the questionnaire, just follow the initial instructions in your letter/email and you will return to where you left off.

The questionnaire timed out.

To protect the confidentiality of your answers, the questionnaire is closed down if it is left for a period of time. Your answers will have been saved so you can log back in using the instructions in your letter/email as before and you will be returned to the point where you left off.

I don’t know how to use computers / I don’t want to do the questionnaire online.

If you are unable to complete the questionnaire online please let us know either by email or call us free on 0800 652 2704.

I have completed my questionnaire, but you still sent me a reminder.

Thank you for taking part!  It might be that you completed the questionnaire after we had checked our records and sent out the reminder.  We apologise, but we will have safely received you answers.

Will an interviewer visit us again?

Yes. The face-to-face interviews are still really important and your interviewer will be in contact again once your child is a bit older.

Will you be contacting me by email from now on?

We find email a really handy way to stay in touch, and so do many people who take part in Growing Up in Scotland. So, unless you’d prefer not to, we’d like to keep in contact using emails alongside our letters from now on. If you’d rather not be contacted by email, just let us know.

Where can I find out more?

Email us on or phone us (free) on 0800 652 2704.  Our website also provides information about the study or you can follow us on Twitter @growingupinscot


Our new report ‘Tackling Inequalities in the Early Years: Key messages from 10 years of the Growing Up in Scotland study’ was launched yesterday at an event to celebrate 10 years of the study.

Download the report here

View our animation that highlights some of the key findings


Our new report ‘Growing Up in Scotland: The Circumstances and Experiences of 3-year-old children living in Scotland in 2007/08 and 2013’ was published on 6 October 2015.

Download the report here


Our researchers based at the University of Glasgow have had an article published in the Journal of Family Psychology. ‘Parenting Stress and Parent Support Among Mothers with High and Low Education’ by Alison Parkes, Helen Sweeting and Daniel Wight uses data from our Birth Cohort 2 families to look at how stress varies amongst different groups of parents and how stress levels are related to differences in the levels of support available to families.

Key points

The researchers wanted to find if out the stress associated with bringing up children is different for parents with different educational backgrounds.  They also wanted to find out to what extent deficits in support are related to parenting stress.

Other research has suggested that parenting stress is greater among parents from both low and high socioeconomic positions (SEP) because of material hardship among parents of low SEP and because of employment demands among parents of high SEP.

Using data from GUS Birth Cohort 2 when the children were aged 10 months, the researchers found that maternal parenting stress is indeed higher among both the most and least educated mothers, compared with mothers who have intermediate level education.  They also found that high parenting stress is more likely for migrant families (where parents were born outside of Scotland) and for single-parent families.

In terms of support from grandparents, both high educated and lower educated migrants experienced less frequent contact with grandparents, since few had grandparents living nearby. However, compared with intermediate SEP families, less frequent contact with grandparents was also seen among low-educated families with parents born in the UK, even though most had grandparents living nearby. A small grandparent network was particularly evident among low-educated single mothers, where one fifth of babies had contact with only one grandparent (typically the maternal grandmother).

High educated parents were more reliant on formal childcare and enjoyed less regular contact with friends, compared with the intermediate group. Lower educated families had smaller grandparent and friend networks, compared with the intermediate group. They were also more likely than other groups to perceive barriers to accessing parenting support from formal professional sources, like Health Visitors.

Further analysis showed that the lack of support from either formal or informal sources explains about half of the parenting stress experienced by both high and lower educated mothers. Less frequent contact with the child’s grandparents helps to explain the higher stress experienced by both groups, with this effect strongest among migrants.

However, the support deficits experienced by both groups differed in other ways. Stress among low- educated mothers was associated with smaller and less effective social support networks whereas stress among higher-educated mothers was associated with less readily accessible informal support from friends and family, despite larger network size and quality.

Reliance on formal childcare was a particular source of stress for high-educated mothers, who were more likely to be in full-time employment than less-educated groups.  Barriers to professional support were most pertinent for low-educated mothers.

These findings suggest that understanding how parenting stress varies between different groups of parents might be enhanced by considering particular groups at risk of low support. By examining how different groups experience parenting stress as a result of low support, outreach programmes and interventions might be targeted to maximise the benefits to different groups of families and to make efficient use of resources.




Our interviewers have started to visit GUS families when the children in our older group are in Primary 6. Parents and children will be asked to complete questionnaires. The children will also carry out exercises to look at their cognitive development.

The GUS team have developed some new web pages to thank the children for taking part in the study and to tell them why the information they provide is so important. The pages include a fun, on-line quiz that highlights some of the findings from the study so far. The pages are aimed at the children taking part in the study but may also be of interest to other young people.

Visit the new GUS Kids Pages


A new report explores the relationship between children’s experience of pre-school provision and change in their social and cognitive development between ages 3 and 5. The project examines differences in the characteristics of pre-school provision experienced by different children and whether, in particular, the quality of the provision – as assessed through inspection by the Care Inspectorate or Education Scotland – influences change in children’s outcomes.  The project uses data collected from mothers and children in the first birth cohort of the Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) study between 2008 and 2010. Survey data was linked to administrative data held by the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland.

Full report


A new report explores family and school influences on children’s social and emotional well-being.

The project explored possible influences on children’s behavioural and emotional difficulties, and on their subjective well-being. It used data collected from mothers and children in the first birth cohort of the Growing Up in Scotland study, interviewed in 2012/13 when the child was seven years old. Mothers were asked about the child’s behavioural and emotional problems, and children were asked about their life satisfaction. Analyses explored the role of child, maternal and household characteristics, parenting behaviours, school experiences, friendships, leisure activities, and materialistic attitudes on both child mental health (high levels of behavioural and emotional problems) and low subjective well-being (low life satisfaction).

Factors associated with low life satisfaction and high behavioural and emotional difficulties were: Greater conflict in the parent-child relationship; lower parental awareness of the child’s activities or relationships; child difficulties adjusting to the learning and social environment at primary school; and the child having poorer quality friendships.

Factors associated with low life satisfaction (but not high levels of behavioural and emotional problems):  A recent death, illness or accident in the family; and less positive parenting.

Factors associated with high levels of behavioural and emotional problems (but not low life satisfaction): poor child and maternal health; low maternal education; family mental health/substance use problems; and low parent-child warmth.

Full report       Summary



A new report from GUS explores the characteristics, circumstances and experiences of first-time mothers in Scotland aged under 20 years at the time of their child’s birth.  The report provides a current picture of the circumstances of young mothers and also explores how the circumstances and characteristics of mothers change as their child grows older.

The findings make clear that from the very earliest stages of pregnancy and throughout the first six years of their child’s life, mothers aged under 20 are considerably more likely than older mothers to experience significant disadvantage in relation to health, income, employment and other areas of their lives and that this persistent and multiple disadvantage has an adverse impact their children’s outcomes. Other analysis from GUS suggest that it is not the age of the mother that drives child outcomes but the fact that younger mothers have a more challenging starting point that makes it more difficult for them to achieve the security and stability that they and their children need.

The research also shows that young mothers have specific needs in terms of the support they require and how it should be delivered.  With the right support in place, opportunities and outcomes for younger mothers and their children could be greatly improved.

Full report: The experiences of mothers aged under 20: analysis from the Growing Up in Scotland study

Scottish Government Press Release: Young mothers focus of new research



The data from Birth Cohort 2 (6,000 children born during 2010/11) is now available to download from the UK Data Service.

If you are interested in using the data for research, there are a limited number of places left on Data Workshops being held in Edinburgh on 14 January 2014 and in Glasgow on 22nd January 2014. More detail here.

If you are using the data or plan to do so, please keep in touch by e-mailing . It is important for to us to monitor how the data is being used to demonstrate the impact of the study.





A new report presents an in-depth analysis of data from GUS to examine the circumstances and outcomes of children living with a disability in Scotland. This analysis explores the impact of disability on the child, their parents and the wider family. The analysis found clear differences between disabled and non-disabled children. However, the broad definition applied to disability means that the differences are not huge. It appears that socio-economic differences are, to a large extent, driving the differences in outcomes between disabled and non-disabled children.

Download the full report

Download the summary



The presentation slides and audio recordings from our Annual Conference held in Glasgow on 19 February 2013 are now available from our Events Page.



Birth Cohort 2 – results from the first year


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