TG Escapes Blog

Rising pupil numbers need extra space but what about after the bulge?

by anonymous | Apr 11, 2014 | Blog, Education

Last year the Department for Education analysed the population projections created by the Office for National Statistics to predict pupil numbers in state funded schools up to 2022. Following almost a decade of declining birth rates in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the trend has now reversed and the number of children entering the education system is on the up. 

The total number of pupils, from age 4 up to the end of KS4, started rising in 2011 and is expected to continue to do so as the population bulge feeds through from nurseries through to primary schools and eventually in to secondary schools.

Beginning with the Early Years, the total headcount of pupils aged 4 and under in state maintained nursery schools fell every year between 1999 and 2007 before rising to 972,000 in 2013. Numbers are projected to rise by further 10% by 2017, peaking at 1,069,000: clearly any predictions beyond this point will depend on the number of births over the coming years.

The full-time equivalent number of pupils in state funded primary schools peaked in 1999 at 4.301m, before reaching a low of 3.947m in 2009. As births in England have been on an upward trend since 2002, primary pupil numbers began to rise again in 2010. By 2017, there are expected to be 4.525m primary pupils (up 8% on 2013) anticipated to increase by a further 6% to 4.793m in 2022.

State funded secondary school pupils (years 7 to 11) peaked in 2004 following an upward trend in birth rates that began in the late 1980’s and persisted for a little under a decade. Since 2005, secondary pupil numbers have been declining, reaching 2.78m last year and expected to bottom out at 2.707m in 2015. From 2016 onwards, pupil numbers will begin to swell as the primary bulge starts to flow through continuing on a rising trajectory until the late 2020s.

Clearly, whilst the growth will not occur uniformly across regions, a great number of schools are going to need to accommodate a growing number of pupils and staff over the coming few years. And for many, the rise in registrations will be rapid and significant. However, the waters further out are murky and, without sufficient clarity, there may well be a reluctance to build substantial extensions to the main school buildings which can be time consuming, expensive and hugely disruptive. And if you are trying to solve the problem at a time when headcount is already on the up and the school is full to bursting, a timely and cost effective solution is paramount.

Presumably, a nursery, outdoor classroom or whole new block which provides a teaching environment that enhances the learning experience, motivates staff and pupils alike and is versatile and adaptable would also be desirable. A Learning Escape eco-classroom can be designed to accommodate the full breadth of traditional curriculum subjects whilst simultaneously nurturing pupils’ sense of environmental citizenship. The modular construction allows for quick, easy expansion as a school’s headcount rises. Furthermore, if and when pupil numbers begin to drop again in the late 2020s and beyond, our beautiful, stand-alone buildings can easily be converted to other uses, such as staffrooms, canteens or even community centres. And as our classrooms are designed to last 50 years, they can be reconverted back as the current mini baby boomers begin to have families of their own.

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