What impact does immigration have on school places? 

3 April 2015

The Mail reports that immigration is "fuelling primary school crisis" in school places.

The projections of pupil numbers takes account of three things: how many of us are born, how long we live and net migration. They're not mutually exclusive: for example, future migration will impact on future fertility rates and life expectancy predictions.

It's difficult to single out the exact impact that migration has on each of these. So we can't say what proportion of the expected increase in pupil numbers is down to immigration. What we can say is that currently, any increases in the number of school children caused by migration is more down to children being born to migrants in the UK rather than children migrating here each year. So it's fair to say that the biggest aspect influencing increasing pupil numbers is changes to the birth rate.

Changes to the fertility rate are mostly driven by women born in the UK as they make up the majority of the population of childbearing age. But between 2001 and 2011, non-UK born women pushed it up as they have a higher fertility rate and made up an increasing share of the population, according to the Office for National Statistics. Between 2002 and 2013 (the latest available data), the ONS has said that births to non-UK born women made up 78% of the increase in the number of births.

In 2013, the fertility rate was thought to be about 2.2 children per non-UK born woman and 1.8 for UK-born.

About 197,000 children were born to non-UK born mothers in the UK in 2013, that's a quarter of the total number of live births that year. In the same year, between 20,000 and 34,000 extra children under the age of 15 migrated to the UK (that includes both UK-born and non-UK born). So the number of children being born to immigrants is much larger than the number of children migrating here.

How this is felt by schools will depend on where they are, since levels of migration vary by region. London has the largest level of net migration and largest proportion of non-UK born residents.

The Mail says that Sir Michael Wilshaw suggested last year that schools were struggling to cope with an increase in children from other countries. The comments come from an LBC phone in. Asked about the "huge influx" of statemented children who can't speak English, Sir Michael said:

"Schools need the resources to deal with that, when they're faced with an influx of children from other countries, they need the resources and the capacity to deal with it, if those resources aren't there that's a big issue for government".

For the complete picture on school places, see our briefing.

Update 24/04/2015

Some figures on the proportion of the increase in births since 2002 due to births to non-UK born women were brought to our attention. We've added in a reference to this.

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