Published Monday 9th September 2019

According to Government reports, the number of secondary school students in the UK is expected to rise by over 400,000 over the next eight years. At a time when funds are already stretched, this could present a significant infrastructure issue, particularly in the regions most affected.

Some reports suggest that up to 640 new schools will be needed to cope with the sudden surge in secondary school pupils. Many of these may need to be opened within the next few years. Governments and local authorities are left with a sizeable task, especially if education is to become the cornerstone of this new government’s ambitions.

The Growing Pupil Demographic

The predictions for pupil development over the next decade are largely contrived from a Department for Education (DfE) report into the issue released last summer and amended in July 2019. That report into the future trends of pupil numbers focuses on state-funded schools from nursery and primary up to secondary education.

The DfE report states that the number of nursery and primary school children in the UK is expected to continue rising, but only until 2020/21. After that point, the total is expected to decline until the end of the projection, 2027. After the next eight years, whilst the number of 5 year-olds is expected to remain stable, the DfE predict a decline of over 100,000 pupils in state-funded primary schools.

The nursery and primary school population in the UK has been rising since 2009, and that influx of pupils is now expected to be felt in the secondary school system. The rate of growth for secondary school pupils in the UK is expected to reach 3.1% per year over the next two years, before slowly declining. However, by 2027, the total secondary school population is predicted to increase by 418,000, equalling a growth of 14.7%.

The reason for such a sharp increase in secondary school pupils is the baby boom of the 2000s, which has already been felt in primary education. By extension, the future reduction in primary school students is a result of slowing birth rates in the UK since 2013.

Can the UK Education System Deal with Pupil Increases?

Whilst there are some potential fluctuations in these predictions, the DfE figures present a worrying sight for education leaders and local authorities. According to some estimates, over 12,000 new classrooms could be needed in UK secondary schools by 2021 to cope with rising demand. Whilst London, the South East and South West are expected to be most affected, every region will need some form of infrastructure growth over the next few years.

One concern with this increase is the collaborative nature of any solution. The problem falls within the jurisdiction of the national government, local authorities and secondary school leaders. Decisions regarding whether to extend existing schools or build new premises have to be made, whilst exact needs will fluctuate across the country.

Perhaps more important, however, are the funding concerns. Few sectors have struggled financially as much as the education sector over recent years. Questions are already being asked about whether the new government can deliver for UK education. The need for sizeable infrastructure investment presents yet another hurdle to the level of capital many headteachers have been requiring.

If the DfE expectations come to pass, there’s a chance that funding could remain a problem in the education sector for many years to come. Here at Expense Reduction Analysts, we’ve been working in the education sector for many years and have seen first-hand the need for increased capital in schools. We offer a cost reduction service designed specifically for the unique needs of educational institutions. Our contingency offer means you won’t be charged until savings have been delivered. Even then, we only charge from the money that’s been saved.

If you are interested in learning more about our school cost reduction services, why not get in contact with us today? Alternatively, take a look at our case studies to see how we’ve helped institutions like yours reduce their expenses.