School enrolment bulletin 2016/17 published today

Date published: 22 February 2017

A statistical bulletin detailing enrolment data from the 2016/17 annual school census in October 2016, has been published today.

Key Points:

  • There are 171,612 pupils in primary schools (Year 1–7), the highest level since 2000/01.
  • There are 140,413 pupils in post-primary schools, dropping to the lowest level since records began over 30 years ago.
  • There are over 29,500 pupils studying A Level or equivalent qualifications, enrolled in sixth form education.
  • There are 23,825 pupils in funded pre-school education, a small drop on last year. 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 10 of all pupils.
  • 22% or approximately 76,300 pupils in schools have some form of special educational needs. Approximately 5,400 pupils are enrolled in 39 dedicated special schools.
  • There are approximately 13,300 pupils in schools recorded as non-white. This is an increase of 3,800 compared to five years prior.
  • In 2016/17 there are more than 80 first languages spoken by pupils with Polish and Lithuanian being the most common behind English.
  • In 2016/17 there are approximately 14,000 newcomer pupils accounting for 4.1% of the school population.
  • More than 5,850 pupils participate in Irish-medium education, an increase of more than 300 since last year.

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

Notes to editors: 

1.  The 2016/17 figures in this statistical release are based on information as at 7 October 2016. They may be subject to minor revision and these will be notified in accordance with our revisions policy. This can be accessed on the DE website.

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

Analytical Services Unit
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 Press Office Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 0762 397 4383 and your call will be returned.

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