The 2020 national pupil projections are based on the latest (mid-2018 based) ONS population projections, replacing the mid-2016 based projections used in the previous pupil projections.
ONS use the most recent information on levels of fertility, migration and life expectancy to create up-to-date projections giving future population levels for England by age and gender.
In addition, the new pupil projections incorporate the latest pupil counts (January 2020) from the School Census and the latest birth figures (2018) from ONS. As well as providing actual data for 2020, these affect the pupil participation rates and proportions assumed to be attending each school type, which are used to calculate the pupil projections.
A comparison can be made between the new projections and those published in 2019 to gain an understanding of the effect of actual and projected changes on the future school population. Results for primary & nursery and secondary schools are compared in the chart below and the main changes compared to the 2019 model are summarised below:
- The actual census total for all state-funded schools in 2020 was 2,000 lower than previously projected. However, this breaks down into an increase totalling 10,000 between nursery & primary and special schools and a decrease totalling 12,000 between secondary and AP schools.
- By 2026 the projected figure for all state-funded schools is 179,000 lower than previously projected.
- The vast majority of this difference is found in nursery & primary schools, with only special schools showing an increase in the 2026 projection (3,000 higher than previously projected).
There are two main reasons for the difference between the two projection models:
- The drop in the number of births from late 2016 and subsequent reduction in ONS’s projected birth numbers.
- The lower assumed participation rates, which have been updated with actual data for 2020.
The projected number of migrants in the ONS national population projections also has an effect.