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Enrolments at schools and in funded pre-school education in the North of Ireland 2012/13

The purpose of this statistical release is to present enrolment figures for schools and for children in funded pre-school education for 2012/13.
Thursday, 21 February 2013

Data collected through the school census exercise are used by policy branches within the Department of Education (DE) and by others across the education service, most notably by the Education and Library Boards (ELBs). The data are also the basis of a number of Assembly questions and are used in the ELB auditing process.

Key points

Funded pre-school education

  • There are 23,440 children in funded pre-school education: 14,613 in nursery schools or nursery units in primary schools; 417 in reception classes/groups; and 8,410 in funded places in voluntary and private pre-school education centres. This represents an increase of 2,374 since 2007/08, when there were 21,066 children in funded pre-school education.
  • The proportion of all pre-school children in funded education in voluntary and private pre-school centres has risen from 31.0% in 2007/08 to 35.9% in 2012/13, while the proportion of children in nursery schools and classes has fallen from 66.0% in 2007/08 to 62.3% in 2012/13. The proportion of children in reception classes has fallen from 3.0% in 2007/08 to 1.8% in 2012/13.
  • The reported religion of children in pre-school education is: 46.7% Catholic, 30.5% Protestant, 3.2% Other Christian, 0.7% Non Christian, and 18.7% Other/No Religion/Not recorded.

Grant-aided Schools

  • There are 158,914 pupils in primary schools and preparatory departments (Year 1 – 7). In 2007/08 the figure was 157,911. This represents a rise of 0.6% over the five year period and continues the rise in Year 1 – 7 enrolments seen in 2011/12, after a decade in which they had been declining.
  • There are 145,658 pupils in post-primary schools (Years 8 – 14) – Table 1b. In 2007/08, the figure was 147,942. Within the 1.5% drop in overall enrolment in post-primary schools since 2007/08, there has been a drop of 4.6% in year 8 – 12 pupils, but a rise of 12.1% in the number of post year 12 pupils. The proportion of pupils staying on into Year 13 had increased from 57.4% in 2007/08 to 69.2% in 2012/13.
  • In the post-primary phase, 62,599 pupils (43.0%) attend grammar schools. In 2007/08, the number of pupils in grammar schools was similar (62,279), but, because the cohort was larger, this represented a slightly smaller proportion of the overall total (42.1%).
  • 21,503 pupils (6.7%) of the total enrolment in nursery, primary and post-primary schools attend integrated schools. This is an increase on the 2007/08 figure, when enrolment at integrated schools was 18,867 (5.9%) of total enrolment.
  • A total of 3,261 (1.0% of pupils in grant-aided nursery, primary and post-primary schools) pupils attend Irish medium schools, with a further 898 pupils attending Irish medium units attached to English-medium schools. In 2007/08, there were 2,638 (0.8%) attending Irish medium schools with a further 740 pupils in Irish medium units attached to English medium schools.
  • 30.0% of Year 1 – Year 7 pupils in primary schools and preparatory departments are entitled to free school meals, as are 27.8% of pupils in secondary (non-grammar) schools and 7.4% of grammar school pupils. Comparative figures for 2007/08 were: 17.8% of Year 1 – Year 7 pupils in primary schools and preparatory departments; 25.1% of pupils in secondary (non-grammar) schools; and, 5.9% of grammar school pupils (Table 3b). The rise in the percentage of pupils entitled to free school meals in primary schools may, in the main, be attributed to the change in entitlement criteria introduced in 2010/11 and extended in 2011/12.
  • The average number of pupils per class in primary schools (year 1 – year 7) was 24. This compares with an average class size of 18 in preparatory departments of grammar schools. Within the primary school sector, the largest average class sizes were in Grant Maintained Integrated schools, where there was an average class size of 27 pupils.
  • The reported religion of pupils in schools is: 165,192 (50.9%) Catholic, 119,118 (36.7%) Protestant, 9,193 (2.8%) Other Christian, 1,997 (0.6%) Non Christian, and 28,755 (8.9%) Other/No Religion/Not recorded. In 2007/08, the religious composition of pupils in schools was 50.6% Catholic, 38.8% Protestant, 2.3% Other Christian, 0.4% Non Christian, and 7.8% Other/No Religion/Not recorded (Table 5b).
  • The reported ethnicity of pupils in schools is 96.9% white (excluding Irish Travellers), with 3.1% pupils of mixed or minority ethnic groups.
  • 21.2% of pupils in schools were recorded as having special education needs; 4.5% of pupils had a statement of special educational needs. This represents an increase since 2007/08, when 17.9% of pupils in schools were recorded as having special education needs and 4.0% of pupils had a statement of special educational needs.

Full details of this National Statistics publication can found on the DE website.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Department of Education has launched a new ‘Education Works’ advertising campaign. The campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’. Watch out for the ads on television, radio and outdoor locations. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit nidirect website for more information or watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel.
  2. View photos from the Department of Education in our Flickr collection.
  3. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.