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Primary and secondary student numbers 'set to increase in coming years'

17/07/2017 Joanna

New government data has projected a rise in the number of school students across England between now and 2026.

Forecasts from the Department for Education have indicated that the number of children attending state-funded schools will increase by 8.7 per cent, from 7.49 million this year to 8.14 million by 2026. This represents a rise of more than 650,000 in just under a decade.

The number of pupils in England's secondary schools has increased for the second year in a row, reaching 2.79 million this year, due in large part to a rise in birth rates from 2002 onwards.

Indeed, the rate of increase is projected to tick upwards in 2018 to 2.4 per cent and remain high until towards the end of the projection period, with larger numbers now entering secondary schools at age 11 than leaving them at age 16. This is already being reflected in school place allocation trends.

Meanwhile, a 1.8 per cent increase in the population of state-funded nursery and primary schools was also seen between 2016 and 2017. This is slightly lower than previous predictions, with the overall population in primary schools coming to 4.56 million in 2017 - a figure that will rise by 2.2 per cent to 4.66 million in 2026.

Finally, the report showed that the number of five-year-olds in state-funded schools will decrease slightly over the next two years from 865,000 in 2017 to 824,000 in 2019, due to a drop in the number of births in 2013 and 2014 feeding into this age group. However, a slight rise to 859,000 will then be seen by 2026.

The report said: "Changes in the school-age population are largely driven by the birth rate. Direct immigration of pupils born outside the UK has a very small effect on the school-age population."

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