News ID: 218210
Published: 0945 GMT July 13, 2018

Lower birth rate to ease England's school place race

Lower birth rate to ease England's school place race
DAVE THOMPSON/PA

The pressure on school places in England is likely to ease slightly sooner than expected thanks to a lower birth rate than forecasters had anticipated.

Although pupil numbers will continue to rise in the next few years, the rate of increase is slowing, according to government statistics, according to BBC.

The Department for Education (DfE) has cut its projections for the number of pupils in England’s schools and anticipates that the pupil population in nurseries and primaries will peak next year, while secondary school numbers will continue to increase until 2025.

Primary and secondary schools in towns and cities around the country have been expanding rapidly in recent years to try to accommodate a bulge in the school population due to a spike in the birth rate.

Although pressure on school places will continue for some time yet, a lower birth rate since 2013 means an end may now be in sight after years of ‘titan primaries’ and ‘supersized secondaries’.

The increasing demand for school places, particularly in London and other urban centers, has meant disappointment for many parents trying to secure places for their children in the most desirable schools.

As the pressure eases on primaries, secondaries are now bearing the brunt. In 2018 the number of pupils in secondary school increased by 1.9 percent compared with 2017, reaching 2.8 million. This was lower than the 2.4 percent rate of increase forecast in the previous projections.

The rate of increase is expected to reach 3.1 percent for the next two years before gradually dropping to zero by 2027, when the secondary population is expected to peak at 3.26 million. Forecasters anticipate a 14.7 percent increase over a nine-year period.

A DfE report said: “The 2018 national pupil projections, compared with those produced in 2017, are forecasting a lower increase in the pupil population over the nine years of the projection.

 “This is most notable at primary and nursery level. In 2017 we were projecting an increase of around 102,000 in the primary and nursery school population over the projection period, to 4.68 million by 2026.

“This year, however, the projection estimates there will be a decrease of 112,000 between 2018 and 2027, to 4.52 million. This is because of lower projected births, which then feed into lower numbers starting school.”

There are 7.6 million children in state-funded schools in 2018 and the figure is expected to go up to 7.96 million in 2024, before dropping to 7.91 million three years later.

   
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