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Right tick in the box

You raise the spectre of research findings being manipulated to hide the truth in your report of the YouthLink survey (November 11).

Unfortunately, the truth is rather more mundane. In our surveys, in 2003 and again in 2005, we asked young people to indicate what qualifications they anticipated leaving school with.

When we examined the data in the 2003 survey, it was clear that some young people had indicated that they anticipated getting Highers, but had omitted to tick the box for Standard grades. As this is a clear logical inconsistency, we re-coded the data to ensure that the data for Standard grades was a true reflection of the proportion that anticipated gaining at least Standard grades. When we compared these figures with official attainment data, they were remarkably consistent.

This process was repeated in 2005, revealing a high level of consistency in the expectations of young people (no story there then). But because YouthLink released the survey data without this back-coding exercise, suspicions have been raised.

The re-coded figures for 2005 are 83 per cent Standard grades and 69 per cent Highers. Sorry to spoil the fun, but it seems only fair to the thousands of young people in Scotland who took part in the study to set the record straight.

Simon Braunholtz

Managing director

Mori Scotland

Albany Street, Edinburgh

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