Regions, pupils and their characteristics 2012-2015

Since 2010, the Department for Education (DfE) has been releasing information on pupil numbers broken down by characteristics, based on school census data. In June 2015, the most recent version of this statistical first release (SFR) (based on the January 2015 school census) was updated. At Learning Plus UK, we have used this, and the previous three datasets[1] to compare regional differences in pupil (primary and secondary combined) characteristics, from 2012 to 2015. Data on ‘children looked after’ comes from an additional DfE SFR [2].

Regions, pupils and their characteristics (2015)

Click on the infographic to filter the data and explore in more detail

Total Pupils

Numbers of pupils have continued to rise across England, with a total of 7,695,036 attending primary or secondary school in 2015, compared to 7,598,070 in 2014 (an increase of 96,966). London and the South East remain the regions with the greatest number of pupils (1,214,363 and 1,192,345 respectively), making up just over 31% of England's total pupils.


The main page of the infographic shows the number of pupils 'known to be eligible for and claiming free schools meals'. These numbers have declined since 2013, from 1,271,795, to 1,151,139. A comparison of numbers with non-FSM pupils can be seen in the 'FSM' section of the inforgraphic.


The main page of the infographic shows the proportion of 'minority ethnic pupils'. This includes all pupils that do not fall under the 'White British' category of ethnicity. These numbers have increased in all regions, with the greatest increase seen in the West Midlands, where 27% of pupils were minority ethnic in 2014, compared to the current 28%. A further breakdown is given in the 'Ethnicity' section of the infographic, with total numbers given for White, Black, Mixed, Asian, Chinese, Any Other Ethnic Group, and Unclassified pupils.


Numbers of pupils with English as an additional language have also continued to rise. London remains the region with the greatest proportion of EAL pupils. However, the greatest increase percentage-wise can be seen in the East of England, from 10% of pupils reported as EAL in 2014, to 11% in 2015.


Children Looked After have increased in all regions, with the exception of East of England (a 0.03% decline), London (a 0.03% decline), and Yorkshire and the Humber (a 0.02% decline). However, despite this increase in numbers, the proportion of the total pupils in England overall has slightly declined. In 2014, 68,840 pupils out of 7,598,070 pupils were CLA (0.906%), whereas in 2015, 69,540 out of 7,695,036 pupils were CLA (0.904%). A very minor decrease, but a decrease all the same.

Pupil characteristics are used increasingly in educational data. There is greater emphasis than ever on ‘Closing the gap’, and pupil attainment is often reported alongside these characteristics. Here at Learning Plus UK Data, we support our subscribers by including analysis by pupil characteristcs in many of our products. For example a range of charts and tables in the Post-16 LPUK Datadashboard, user-generated analysis in the Tracking and Monitoring Tool, or in our bespoke cross-phase Datadashboards.

What is your experience of ‘Closing the gap’ provision? Which characteristic categories do you think necessitate the greatest levels of support? To share your thoughts, explore our Big Numbers and join us on Twitter (@learningplusuk), on our Post-16 Learning Forum or LinkedIn group.

[1] DfE SFR16, SFR15, SFR21, SFR10: Schools, pupils and their characteristics.

Available from:

[2] DfE SFR34, SFR36: Children looked after in England, including adoption.

Available from: