Bigger schools and four other things we learned today

More than a third of primary pupils are now from an ethnic minority background, according to new DfE figures

Schools are getting bigger and more than a third of primary pupils are from an ethnic minority background, new DfE figures shows

This morning the Department for Education published new statistics about schools, pupils and their characteristics.

The figures show that secondary school class sizes have risen for the fourth consecutive year, with 13 per cent of pupils now in classes with more than 30 pupils.

Here are five other things we learned from the statistics:

  1. The number of pupils in the school system has continued to rise

    There are 87,400 more pupils in the system compared with last year. The number of pupils in state-funded secondary schools rose for the fifth year in a row (69,500 more pupils), and in 2019 secondaries had a much greater increase in population than primaries (10,800 more pupils). There are 6,500 more pupils in special schools, but 900 fewer pupils in independent schools compared with 2018.

    The total number of pupils has grown every year since 2009 and there are now 727,000 more pupils in schools than at that point.
  2. Schools are bigger

    The average state-funded primary school now has 282 pupils on its roll, up from 281 pupils in January 2018. Since 2009, the average size of primary schools has increased by 43 pupils, the equivalent of more than 1.5 extra classes per school. The average secondary school now has 965 pupils on its roll, up from 948 pupils in January 2018.

    However, there has not been an increase in the number of so-called "titan" primary schools (those with more than 800 children) – there were 129 such schools last year, and there are 128 this year.
  3. More pupils are claiming free school meals

    In January 2019, for all school types, 15.4 per cent of pupils were eligible for and claiming free school meals – the highest proportion since 2014. Since April 2018, “transitional protections” have been in place while Universal Credit is rolled out, which means that pupils eligible for free school meals on or after this date retain their free school meals eligibility even if their circumstances change.
  4. Over a third of primary pupils are now from an ethnic minority background

    The proportion of pupils from minority ethnic origins has been rising steadily over recent years. In primary schools, 33.5 per cent of pupils of school age are of minority ethnic origins (up from 33.1 per cent in January 2018). In secondary schools, 31.3 per cent of pupils are of minority ethnic origins (up from 30.3 per cent).
  5. Black pupils are over-represented in pupil-referral units

    According to the statistics, there is a greater proportion of black pupils and pupils from mixed ethnic origins in PRUs than in mainstream schools. Black pupils represented 6.8 per cent of those in PRUs, compared with 5.5 per cent in state-funded primary schools and 6 per cent in secondary schools.

    Pupils of mixed ethnic origin made up 9 per cent of those in PRUs, compared with 6.3 per cent in primary schools and 5.5 per cent in secondary schools.

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