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September 2017 - Ever more pupils in the Brussels Region

Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis (BISA) - In the spotlight - Year-on-year increase in the numbers of pupils availing of nursery, primary and secondary education in the Brussels Region

Year-on-year increase in the numbers of pupils availing of nursery, primary and secondary education in the Brussels Region

With the start of each school year, more and more pupils are heading off to school in Brussels. In the space of 8 years, the Brussels Region has in fact seen its school population swell by 28,700 pupils (between the 2007-2008 and 2015-2016 school years). The numbers of pupils being educated in the Brussels Region is rising by the year, across all levels of education (nursery, primary and secondary). However, the numbers do not rise at the same pace across all levels. The graph depicts the annual increase in the school population in the Brussels Region by level of education between the 2008-2009 and 2015-2016 school years.

Opposite trends depending on the level of education

The graph shows that the nursery school population continues to grow but, as of the 2010-2011 school year, at a steadily slower pace. In that particular year, the annual increase in pupils attending nursery education was at an all-time high (1,300, i.e. 2.4 %, additional pupils). During the 2015-2016 school year, only 380 extra children joined their nursery school peers in the Region in comparison to the previous year (i.e. 0.6 %).

Conversely, the numbers of pupils attending primary school has been rising increasingly rapidly since 2008-2009: more than 2,200 pupils (a 2.4 % increase) during 2015-2016 as against 500 (a 0.6 % increase) during 2008-2009. Since 2009-2010, the numbers of new pupils registering for primary education by far outweigh the new registrations in nursery education, a rising trend that has continued ever since.

Also the secondary schools in the Brussels Region are experiencing a year-on-year increase in the numbers of pupils to cater for. That dynamic mirrors the dynamic seen in primary education, albeit at a slower pace. The number of additional pupils has been rising each year and, since 2013-2014, exceeds the increase in additional pupils in primary education. Compared to the previous school year, an additional 1,600 pupils were following secondary education during the 2015-2016 school year, which represents an increase of 1.7 %.

A reflection of the Brussels population growth

These observations basically reflect the demographic trend in the Brussels Region, where the population has been growing at a steadily slower pace since 20121.

After all, it only stands to reason that the slowdown in population growth is initially felt in nursery education: the number of children registered in nursery schools continues to grow, but at a slower pace. The upsurge in population growth will henceforth mainly be felt in primary and secondary education. This is known as the catch-up phenomenon: nursery school pupils progressively move on to primary and then to secondary education. Thus, the strong growth in the numbers of nursery school pupils during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years gradually transfers to the other levels of education. Following this logic, the numbers of pupils attending secondary school will increase more rapidly than the numbers attending nursery and primary education.

The BISA projections of the Brussels school population for 2025 (Cahier de l’IBSA No. 7) confirm that trend. Consequently, between the 2014-2015 and 2024-2025 school years, the school population is projected to increase by 10 % in nursery education, by 13 % in primary education and by 20 % in secondary education.

 Keen to find out more about the Brussels school population?

BISA regularly publishes statistics on the school population in the Brussels Region. They can be viewed under the theme page Education on the BISA website.

Make sure to also check out le Cahier de l'IBSA n° 7. It presents BISA’s population projections for 2025. This Cahier firstly analyses the recent trend in the number of school pupils in the Brussels Region and then goes on to make its projections for the 2024-2025 school year by level of education and by place of residence.

[1] BISA, Focus No. 16.