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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Census 2021 Consultation

3rd December 2015

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) census Topic Consultation, which opened on 8 October, will remain open until the deadline of Friday 15 January 2016. The Topic Consultation asks for suggested topics to be included as questions in the forthcoming 2021 census.


People will remember that in 2011 the census for Scotland included for the first time a question which asked if they could read, write, understand or speak Scots. This was in addition to the question on Gaelic, and also a new question on English as well. The former General Register Office for Scotland (GROS – now NRS) Cognitive Survey of 1996, which estimated 1.5 million people could speak Scots, was confirmed in 2011 when a total of 1,541,693 people responded that they could speak the language. This amounted to 30% of the Scottish population.


Since the recognition of Scots by the UK Government under the terms of the Council of Europe Charter (2001), its inclusion by Education Scotland within the curriculum, including new qualifications set out by the SQA, and the adoption of a Scots Language Policy by the Scottish Government, the need for statistics to monitor the effects of policy, and the long-term health of the language, have become ever more vital.


If you, or your organisation, have a need for statistics on the Scots language, then now is the time to inform the NRS by completing a Topic Response Form. You can do so a number of ways.


Firstly, please visit the website at where you can fill in an online form at 2021 Topic Consultation. In respect of Scots, you need only answer questions 1-8 (pages 4-13) remembering to include your details at the beginning. Alternatively you can download a PDF version of the same Topic Response Form, complete it, and then e-mail to .


If, however, you would like to send in a response by post, please download and print off the Topic Response Form mentioned above, complete the relevant questions, and post to Scotland’s Census 2021 Topic Consultation, Ladywell House, Ladywell Road, Edinburgh, EH12 7TF.


Please remember, the deadline for responses is Friday 15 January 2016.