The latest report on the size and shape of the UK’s education system has revealed that there is not only less money available but also fewer schools and more pupils.

The report from the Department for Education reveals that, in real terms, the schools’ budget has fallen by 2.3% over the last four years with £86.3 billion being spent in 2016/17 on education.

Teachers will also be alarmed that while student numbers are rising, there are 2,602 fewer schools available in 2016/17 than there were in 2000/01.

The government figures reveal that there are currently 32,113 schools across the UK and, of these, 76% of them are in England.

In 2013/14, the UK had 32,401 schools for educating 9.79 million pupils but the numbers have fallen while the number of pupils has increased to 10.26 million.

The number of teachers in the UK’s schools has fallen

Worryingly, the number of teachers in the UK’s schools has also fallen; the number of full-time teaching posts has dropped by 3,343 between last year and this year. There are now 506,400 teachers but there’s been a big rise in the number of part-time teaching posts. The report points out that the number of full-time equivalent teaching posts has fallen by just 739 over the year.

The Department for Education figures also reveal that:

  • Fewer schools but more primary pupils

There have been 228 school closures, of which 144 were primary schools, since the government report for 2012/13. Despite this, pupil numbers have risen by 8.5% for primary education to reach 5.5 million pupils this year from the 2012/13 figure of 5.1 million pupils.

  • More pupils are being taken on by maintained special schools

The numbers of pupils who are attending maintained special schools has risen by 17.4% to reach 126,720 pupils.

  • There’s been a big rise in pupil referral units

The report highlights that there’s been a big leap in the number of pupil referral units available which now stand at 15,670, a rise of nearly 33%.

The report clarifies the number of school closures to point out that 29 schools have been closed over the past year – or 0.1% of the total – with the total decline in the number of school numbers since 2012/13 being 288 schools. Since 2001/01, the decline has been more stark with 2,602 schools closing.

The expected standard of education

The Department for Education report also highlights that while pupils in England are less likely than other parts of the UK to leave compulsory schooling with the expected standard of education, it’s hard to compare since the standards are different.

For example, in England, the number in 2016 who achieved five GCSEs at grades A* – C  accounted for 53.5% of the total.

Whereas in Wales, the figure is 60.3% and in Scotland it is 61.9%. In Northern Ireland, the number of pupils achieving five GCSEs at A* – C grade is 67.9%.


More information

The full report ‘Education and training statistics for the UK: 2017’ can be read on the website.