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Statistics on schools, teachers and pupils including data for local authorities and Wales as at April 2021.


This report covers a time period which includes some of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The most recent data in this report relates to the situation as at April 2021. The Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) would usually take place in January. However, school closures between December 2020 and March 2021 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic meant that the census date was delayed to 20 April 2021.

Note on quality assurance and data coverage

This data is provisional. The data has not yet undergone the usual data validation processes. As part of the Welsh Local Government Finance Settlement, the data is returned to local authorities for final validation. Whilst most schools were able to submit data before the initial data collection deadline, 6 schools were unable to do so. These schools are only included in the school count in the main points. They will be added to the final schools’ census publication in September 2021. The counts of pupils shown in the main points will therefore increase slightly when the final data is published.

Users should therefore be more cautious when comparing data on pupils and staff over time, in particular where small cohorts are involved.

What is being published?

During the pandemic there has been an increased level of interest in data for schools, particularly around eligibility for free school meals and pupil numbers for informing any potential vaccination programmes in schools. In order to inform future public debate we have decided to publish this early provisional data. This ensures that users have access to official statistics to similar timescales as in previous years. Due to the provisional nature of the data, at this time we are only publishing a limited set of information. In September 2021 we will be releasing our usual full suite of data via an Open Document Spreadsheet and StatsWales.

Main points

  • There were 1,473 local authority maintained schools, down 7 compared with January 2020.
  • There were 473,066 pupils in local authority maintained schools, up 3,890 compared with January 2020.
  • Of the 378,262 pupils aged 5 to 15, 23.3% were known to be eligible for free school meals, up from 19.9% at January 2020. These figures do not include transitional protection (see below).
  • There were 23,855 full-time equivalent qualified teachers in local authority maintained schools, up 260 compared with January 2020.
  • There were 92,359 pupils with special educational needs in maintained schools (19.5% of all pupils), down from 97,551 (20.8%) at January 2020.

Transitional protection for free school meals

On 1 April 2019 the Welsh Government introduced a new transitional protection for free school meals policy. This was brought in to ensure that pupils have their free school meals protected during the Universal Credit rollout period.

This protection applies to individual pupils and will continue until the end of their current schools phase, being the end of primary school or end of secondary school.

Any pupil that was eligible for free school meals on the introduction of the policy on 1 April 2019 should also be transitionally protected. In addition, any pupil that has become eligible at any point during the Universal Credit rollout under the new eligibility criteria should also be transitionally protected.

Of the 378,262 pupils aged 5 to 15, 25.2% were known to be eligible for free school meals or transitionally protected at April 2021 up from 21.1% in January 2020.


Datasets and interactive tools

Schools' census results, as at April 2021 (provisional): table , file type: ODS, file size: 7 KB

7 KB
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Geraint Turner

Telephone: 0300 025 3753


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