School population rises by 121,000


The school population in England increased by 121,000 since last year, according to annual figures from the Department for Education.

The increase has put pressure on school places, with pupil numbers having risen for seven successive years.

It means there are 470,000 more pupils in the school system than in 2009.

The figures show that over the past five years the average size of a primary school has increased by 30 pupils, equivalent to an extra class.

This annual census, with numbers including both state and private schools, shows there are 8.56 million children in England’s classrooms.

The official figures show a net increase of 12 state primary and 20 state secondary schools in the past year – but because of the closure of some pupil referral units and independent schools, the overall number of schools has fallen.

But despite the rising numbers, there are fewer infants in “oversize” classes of more than 30 pupils. There are 5.8% of infants in such overcrowded classes, down from 6.2% last year.

The upward trend in the number of ethnic minority pupils has continued – with 31.4% of primary pupils defined as being from ethnic minorities, up from 30.4% last year.

White British pupils remain the biggest ethnic group in primary schools – almost 68% – with Asian pupils the next biggest, at almost 11%.

About a fifth of primary pupils are from homes where a language other than English is spoken.

In secondary schools, the proportion of ethnic minority pupils has risen to 27.9% from 26.6% last year.

But below these averages are very wide regional differences.

In the north east of England, 88% of primary pupils are categorised as white British, while in the inner London boroughs, 18% of pupils in primary schools are white British.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said the government expected to deliver 600,000 more places by 2021.

“Delivering good quality school places is a top priority for this government and the latest figures show that the system continues to work. Today’s figures reveal thousands fewer children are being taught in large infant classes. The data also shows that primary school class sizes remain stable at 27.1 pupils.”