Swelling primary populations still on the rise, but growth rate should ease off over the next decade
This week’s National Pupil Projections from the DfE have forecasted a rise in numbers for nursery, primary and secondary schools, with the latter being hit hardest from next year, principally as a result of 2002’s increase in birth rates.
The flip side of this is that because birth rates have dropped since 2009, the pressure on primary class sizes will begin to ease up. By 2019 the primary school population is estimated to reach 4,658,000, a 6 per cent increase on this year’s total. But after this point the growth rate should slow down, with a projected 4,712,000 pupils in primary schools in 2024, an increase of 8 per cent on 2015’s numbers. That’s 336,000 extra places required.
By comparison, secondary schools will see a whopping 20 per cent rise over the next decade, up from 2,740,000 children to 3,287,000, over half a million extra places.
London will see the biggest rise in population of school-age children at around 14 per cent, followed by the East of England, the South East and the South West. East Midlands is just under the national average with an 11 per cent rise, while the North East, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire are all around the 9 per cent mark.
Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), has commented that these figures should come as a massive wake-up call to the Government. “One of the largest challenges facing our education system will be ensuring that there are enough schools and teachers to match the huge increase in children attending both primary and secondary schools in the next decade. Currently as many as one in five children do not get a place in the primary school chosen by their parents and many teacher training vacancies remain unfilled. The Government needs to devise a credible plan to tackle both the school place crisis and the teacher retention crisis. It is time for the Government to put down its pride, lay the free school experiment to one side, and come up with a sensible plan for tackling the worsening school place crisis.”
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