School population set to shrink by a million children within a decade

·2-min read

The pupil population of English state schools is set to shrink by nearly a million children over the next decade, according to the latest Government predictions.

Data published by the Department for Education shows that the state school population is expected to fall by nearly a million by 2032, from 7,859,000 this year to 6,915,000.

In 2021, the Government predicted that there would be 7,269,000 pupils in the system by 2032, but it has revised down its predictions due to lower birth projections in the mid-2020 Office for National Statistics national population projections, which were used in this set of pupil number predictions for the first time.

The trend follows a fall in birth numbers dating from 2013. Secondary school pupil numbers are set to peak by 2024, increasing by 104,000 from 2022, while the pupil population at primary and nursery schools peaked in 2019 and has been falling since then.

The Government predicts that 4,064,902 children will attend nursery or primary school in 2028, down by half a million from 2022.

The DfE said that the larger drop in pupil numbers in 2021 may have been connected to the pandemic, for example, parents choosing to home school for reception year.

In secondary schools, numbers will peak in 2024 and then fall back to 2022 levels by 2029. Secondary pupil numbers are predicted to be 37,000 higher than 2022 levels based on Government predictions, but overall pupil numbers are set to fall.

The Government predicts a sharp fall in early years pupils under five in full-time education.

The projections suggest that the population of under five-year-olds in state funded education will be 721,000 in 2028, 13.2% lower than the actual figure for 2022 of 830,000.

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