Basic Statistics of annual enrolments at grant-aided schools 2016/17 published

Date published: 08 December 2016

The Department of Education has today published a statistical release which details the basic provisional enrolment figures for schools and for children in funded pre-school education for 2016/17.

The data is taken from the school enrolments census, which was conducted in October 2016.

Data collected through the school census exercise is used to inform Departmental policy development, implementation and evaluation.

This first release of the basic statistics contains information which is used in the process to allocate funding to schools. A further statistical release, containing a more detailed set of tables will be published in February 2017.

Key points:

  • The total number of pupils in schools in October 2016 was approximately 342,000, an increase of almost 2000 pupils compared to 2015.  
  • The number of children in funded pre-school education, that is reception classes, nursery schools and units, or voluntary and private pre-school centres was 23,828. This is a slight drop from last year.
  • The number of pupils in compulsory primary school education (Years 1-7) was 171,615. This has risen by almost 3,000 pupils compared with last year.   This is the highest number of primary pupils recorded since 2000.   
  • The number of pupils in post-primary schools was 140,417. This has decreased by more almost 700 pupils on last year. Decreases were seen in grammar, non grammar and sixth form.
  • Special school enrolments have also gradually increased, rising by around 750 pupils in the last four years to 5,398 in 2016 /17.
  • The numbers of schools continues to decrease.  There are now 1,160 schools.  
  • 30% (more than100,000) of children in schools are entitled to free school meals.

Notes to editors: 

1. The full report can be found on the Department of Education website at:

2. Further information relating to the collection and production of the statistics can be obtained by contacting:

Paul Matthews

Analytical Services Unit

Department of Education

Rathgael House

Balloo Road


BT19 7PR

Tel: 02891 279717


3. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.

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