School population set to exceed 8m

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The number of pupils in state schools is predicted to grow by a million over the next decade to reach its highest level in more than 40 years, according to official estimates, exceeding 8m by 2022 for the first time since the early 80s.

State-funded primary schools will see their numbers soar to almost 5m while just over 3m pupils will be in secondary education.

The rising numbers are being fuelled by an increasing birth rate across England combined with an influx of migrants in some areas.

The disclosure has prompted claims that many children may be left without school places – particularly in the primary years – as capacity fails to keep pace with rising pupil numbers.

David Laws, the Schools Minister, said: “We are working with local authorities to ensure funding is used to enable every child to attend a good or outstanding local school.”

According to figures, just over 7m children are currently in state schools and this will grow to 8,021,000 by 2022.

In nursery schools alone, numbers are expected to peak in four years time before levelling out.

The combined nursery and primary school population will increase from 4.2m to 4.8m by 2022 before beginning to plateau.

It will be the largest number of under-11s in the state education system since the mid-1970s, the data shows.

Secondary school pupils' numbers have been in decline, the figures show, but are estimated to begin rising again from 2016 onwards. By 2022, numbers will have reached 3,090,000, up from 2.8m this year.

The number of pupils in special schools will also grow.

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