Academic Year 2020/21

Schools, pupils and their characteristics

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  1. Cross border movement data added and section in commentary updated

  2. Data for measure known to be eligible for free school meals (used for FSM in Performance Tables) as been updated to include percentages. No changes have been made elsewhere or to underlying data.

  3. School open dates added in school level underlying data files. Data for Shropshire, Cambridgeshire, Birmingham and Walsall local authorities fixed, these were previously displaying incorrectly with multiple rows for each at local authority level. National figures are unaffected.

  4. Figure for FSM in January 2020 has been corrected in headline facts and figures section to 17.3%. This previously stated 17.8%. No changes have been made elsewhere or to underlying data.

This release contains the latest statistics on school and pupil numbers and their characteristics, including:

  • age
  • gender
  • free school meals (FSM) eligibility
  • English as an additional language
  • ethnicity
  • school characteristics
  • class sizes

The publication combines information from the school census, school level annual school census, general hospital school census and alternative provision census.

As schools were only open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers on census day, schools were asked to record day specific data items as if in normal circumstances, for example for free school meals taken and class sizes.


Headline facts and figures - 2020/21

  • There are 8.9 million pupils attending 24,400 schools in England in 2020/21. This includes state-funded and independent schools.
  • 20.8% are known to be eligible for free school meals, representing 1.74 million pupils. This has increased from 17.3% in January 2020.
  • Over 420,000 pupils have become eligible for free school meals since the first lockdown on 23 March 2020. This compares to 292,000 for the same period (March 2019 to Jan 2020) before the pandemic.
  • The average class size for infant pupils (reception, year 1 and year 2) has decreased to 26.6. There is a statutory limit of 30 pupils in an infant class.

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