Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland pupil numbers soar by 3,000 in one year

The number of pupils enrolled in Northern Ireland schools has risen by almost 3,000 in the past year.

It comes at a time of increased financial pressure on the sector, and uncertainty around funding due to the current impasse at Stormont.

Figures taken in October show there there were 347,000 pupils in all funded schools across Northern Ireland, an increase of nearly 3,000 on the year before.

An increase in total pupil numbers has come as a result of a rise in the number of primary school pupils, up by almost 20,000 over the past decade.

The figure of 174,522 pupils enrolled in primary school in Northern Ireland is the highest number since 1999.

In the same time period there has been a fall of around 5,500 in the number of pupils enrolled in post-primary education.

The provisional enrollment figures have been released by the Department of Education as part of an annual census.

The number of schools in Northern Ireland has decreased, falling from 1,180 in the 2014/15 year to 1,146, a drop which comes mostly on the back of a drop of 23 primary schools and 10 non-grammar schools in 2014.

The number of pupils enrolled in Northern Ireland / Credit: Department of Education

The figures included in the annual school census exercise are used by the Department to inform a range of policy areas, including how funding is allocated.

Ahead of the 2018/19 school year a leading teaching union warned education was at a "make or break point" from a funding perspective after the Education Authority revealed it overspent its budget by £18.9m - something which mostly came as a result of increased spending on schools and pupils with special educational needs.

In March it was announced every school in Northern Ireland would receive less money per pupil for the current academic year than previous, with a decline of £6 per pupil.

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