Today saw the release of annual data from the school census. This one was conducted in January 2017 and gives a snapshot of the nation’s schools.
The data shows that, whilst the number of schools in the North East is decreasing, the number of pupils is increasing. It also shows that the region has the lowest average class sizes, despite having some of the most overcrowded classes in the country.
Five years ago, the census found that there were 1,230 schools in the North East. This has steadily decreased and the number now stands at just 1,203. This is a slight decrease on last year when there were 1,205.
Durham and Northumberland have seen the biggest decreases in the number of schools in our region during this period at 12 and 11 respectively. Meanwhile, there are now 4 more schools in Stockton, 2 more in Gateshead and 1 more in Newcastle.
Whilst we may have fewer schools, there has been a considerable increase in the pupil population. There are now 400,695 pupils in North East schools. This is up from 398,023 last year and 391,315 five years ago.
This means that the pupil population in the North East has grown by 2.4% over the past five years. This is, however, considerably slower growth than nationally where this figure is 6.0%.
The North East has the lowest average primary school class size of all regions. The average size at both key stage 1 and key stage 2 is 25.8, compared with 27.4 and 27.7 nationally. This is a slight increase on five years ago, when the average key stage 1 class in the region had 25.7 pupils and the average key stage 2 class had 25.4.
However, the number of key stage 1 classes in the region with 31 or more pupils has almost doubled in five years, from 57 in 2012 to 112 in 2017. This includes 2 of only 6 classes nationally with 36 or more pupils. The largest key stage 1 class in the country – with 40 pupils – was in Sunderland.
At key stage 2, 10.6% of classes in the North East had 31 or more pupils compared to 10.1% five years ago. However, despite this slight increase, this is still considerably less than the national proportion of 15.2%.