Northern Irish school enrolments fall again


Secondary school enrolments have fallen in Northern Ireland for the fourth year in a row. Newly published statistics show there are now 142,553 year 8 to 14 pupils in post-primary schools across the North.

The overall number of pupils in secondary non-grammar has dropped by more than 5,000 pupils since 2010. There has been no similar trend in grammar schools where enrolments have remained stable in recent years.

Given the declining overall post-primary enrolment, a greater proportion of pupils are attending grammar schools than before – 44 per cent in 2014/15 compared to 41.1 per cent in 2005/06.

The overall decline in secondary pupils conceals a continual increase in the number of post-year 12 pupils, however.

The number of 16 and 17-year-olds in the population has remained relatively stable in the same time period, therefore a greater proportion of the population are staying on in school post-year 12, the figures show. Sixth form enrolments have risen by almost 5,000 in the last decade.

In the Irish-medium sector, enrolments are on the up again – there have been increases now in each of the last five years. The numbers in years 8 to 14 in integrated schools are falling, down slightly from 12,099 in 2009/10 to 11,994 this year.

In recent years, secondary schools across the North have been experiencing a steady growth in their enrolment of “newcomer” children.

They are pupils from overseas who do not have satisfactory language skills to participate fully in the curriculum and do not have a language in common with the teacher.

Five years ago, there were about 2,000 newcomer pupils in Northern Ireland secondary non-grammar schools. Now there are more than 2,200 and numbers are expected to rise further in future years.

The Department of Education statistics also reveal that at secondary level, almost two out of every three young people, have SEN. 


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