CLACKS COUNCIL have confirmed they will distribute a pupil survey that has sparked debate in recent weeks.

The National Health and Wellbeing Census has been devised by the Scottish Government in a bid to inform and shape future public services.

Under the Curriculum for Excellence, health and wellbeing is split into six areas: mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing, planning for choices and changes, physical education, physical activity and sport, food and health, substance misuse and relationships, sexual health and parenthood.

When announced, the survey attracted opposition amid concerns that young people would be questioned on their sexual activities.

The census is not mandatory, respondents will remain anonymous, and the findings are said to be a key tool in identify areas of support for pupils in need.

However, Alexander Stewart, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife, has called for the government to withdraw the census.

Mr Stewart said: "Whatever its original intentions were, it is clear that this census is wholly inappropriate for school children and is most certainly not fit for purpose.

"Extremely concerned parents have raised concerns about privacy and the nature of the personal information being gathered by the state.

"A number of questions within the census are overly intrusive and inappropriate for children to answer.

"Moreover, adults would be uncomfortable answering them, so it is difficult to comprehend why anyone thought they were suitable for younger people.

"In any case, it is entirely questionable if a mass survey should be used to gather this kind of sensitive information, or if it's even likely to be taken seriously by most pupils."

Clacks Council confirmed to the Advertiser that they will be distributing the National Health and Wellbeing Census to children and young people between January and March this year in line with the Scottish Government request.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Health and wellbeing surveys like this one are not new and play a crucial role in ensuring children and young people have access to the help, advice and services they need.

"Local authorities administer the census in their schools to help identify the issues children and young people are concerned about and to tailor their learning, particularly in Personal and Social Education, and advice and support services.

"Parents/carers and children and young people are informed of how their data will be used in advance of any taking part in the census and they can decide to opt out if they wish.

"If children and young people do take part, they can skip any question they don't wish to answer or state that they would 'prefer not to say'.

"Whilst the Scottish Government has worked with stakeholders to design a set of questionnaires, it is for local authorities to determine which questions they ask.

"We fully support administering of this important census, and we will continue to engage with stakeholders on its implementation."

Visit for more information on the census.