DfE predicts fall in pupil numbers by 2030


England’s school population is expected to drop by 5.2% over the next decade, according to the latest predictions from the Department for Education.

Pupil numbers for state-funded schools could fall by more than 400,000 by 2030, with the pupil projection data showing an increase for the next two years, before a gradual decline year-on-year after that.

Estimates suggest that there will be around 7.3 million pupils in state schools by 2030, with the overall figure influenced by a baby boom in the early 2000s, and latterly a decline in the birth rate since 2013.

There are currently 4,647,000 pupils in nursery and primary schools in England, which is expected to drop to 4,342,000 by 2026.

In 2020 there are a further 3,003,000 pupils in secondary schools, with numbers peaking at 3,227,000 in 2024 before declining to 3,210,000 in 2026.

Secondary schools are currently noticing the impact of higher birth rates from just after the millennium, while demand is set to ease from 2025.

The pupil population for primary and nursery schools has risen steadily from 2009 but has plateaued in recent years.

According to the Department for Education, the decline in numbers is steeper than was previously anticipated in 2016, driven by lower than predicted birth dates in the past four years.

Falling pupil numbers could also see class sizes decrease over the next decade, although demand for secondary level teachers is expected to rise in the short term.

The pupil population for England’s special schools is also expected to increase in line with the secondary school projections, before gradually falling from 2024.

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