School enrolment bulletin 2015/16 published today

Date published: 01 March 2016

A statistical bulletin detailing enrolment data from the 2015/16 annual school census in December 2015 has been published today.

Key Points:

  • There are 168,669 pupils in primary schools (Year 1–7), the highest level in almost 15 years.
  • There are 141,112 pupils in post-primary schools showing a decline for the fifth year in a row.
  • There are over 30,500 pupils studying A Level or equivalent qualifications, enrolled in sixth form education.
  • There are almost 24,200 children in funded pre-school education, the highest figure on record. This represents 92% of all three year olds in the population.
  • More than 100,000 pupils are entitled to free school meals representing three in ten of all pupils.
  • Twenty two per cent or approximately 74,750 pupils in schools have some form of special educational needs. Approximately five thousand two hundred pupils are enrolled in 39 dedicated special schools.
  • There are approximately 12,500 pupils in schools recorded as non-white. This is an increase of 3,800 pupils. 
  • In 2015/16 there are more than 80 first languages spoken by pupils with Polish and Lithuanian being the most common behind English.
  • In 2015/16 there are approximately 13,000 newcomer pupils accounting for 3.8% of the school population.
  • More than 5,500 pupils participate in Irish-medium education, an increase of 300 since last year.

The full statistical bulletin can be accessed on the DE website.

Notes to editors: 

1. The 2015/16 figures in this statistical release are based on information as at 9 October 2015.They may be subject to minor revision and these will be notified in accordance with our revisions policy.

2. Requests for further information should be addressed to:-

Paul Matthews
Statistics and Research Team
Department of Education
Rathgael House
Balloo Road
Co. Down
BT19 7PR

Telephone (028) 9127 9717/ Fax (028) 9127 9594


3. Special analyses of data collected through the school census can be undertaken on request.  DE Statistical Releases, including previous releases of this publication can be accessed on the DE website under the Statistics and Research section.

4. 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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