Schools may lose 100,000 children
The Executive said the expected decline from 724,000 pupils in 2004 to 631,000 in 2016 was likely to mean that councils would face "difficult decisions" about the school estate. The number of pupils in state primaries is predicted to fall by 10 per cent by 2016 and in secondaries by 16 per cent.
Anticipated decreases of pupils in special schools are expected to fall in line with the general population trend, and a spokeswoman said that adjustment would have to be made to take into account the impact of mainstreaming pupils with additional support needs.
Meanwhile, the number of pupils recorded as being home educated has also dropped marginally, from 545 last year to 544 this year. Schoolhouse Home Education Association, one of the main organisations supporting home educators, has consistently argued that the true number may be closer to 6,000.
It has called for regulation of home education to mirror England and Wales, where parents can withdraw children "on demand", without waiting for permission from the local authority.
The Executive spokeswoman said: "We are encouraging councils and home educators to have good relationships. We need to get away from the culture of secrecy where they are trying to stop councils finding out that they are educating their children at home."