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Statistics on schools, teachers and pupils including data for local authorities and Wales as at February 2022.


The most recent data in this report relates to the situation as at February 2022. The Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) would usually take place in January. However, due to the level of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in January 2022, the census date was delayed to 15 February 2022. This decision was made to allow schools and local authorities to focus their available resources on reopening schools and supporting returning learners after the Christmas school holiday.

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, two 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 August 2022. 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. 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 August 2022 we will be releasing our usual full suite of data via an Open Document Spreadsheet and StatsWales.

Main points

  • There were 1,470 local authority maintained schools, down 3 compared with April 2021.
  • There were 470,244 pupils in local authority maintained schools, down 4,480 compared with April 2021. The number of pupils was higher in April 2021 partly due to the later census date which meant that more pupils had entered nursery classes by the census date.
  • Of the 380,139 pupils aged 5 to 15, 23.6% were known to be eligible for free school meals, up from 22.9% at April 2021. These figures do not include transitional protection (see below).
  • There were 24,608 full-time equivalent qualified teachers in local authority maintained schools, up 666 (2.8%) compared with April 2021.
  • There were 74,595 pupils with additional learning or special educational needs in maintained schools (15.9% of all pupils) at February 2022, down from 92,668 (19.5%) at April 2021. See note below.

Changes to special educational needs data following the implementation of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018

The Additional Learning Needs Code for Wales 2021 (the ALN Code) and regulations came into force on 1 September 2021 to ensure children and young people aged 0 to 25 can access additional support to meet their needs that is properly planned for and protected, with learners at the heart of the process.

Children are moving from the special educational needs (SEN) system to the additional learning needs (ALN) system in groups over 3 years, to ensure enough time for nurseries, schools, pupil referral units and local authorities to discuss the support needed and to prepare plans.  

Implementation of the ALN Code has taken place in partnership with education transformation leads, delivery partners and education establishments, with a programme of learning and development, and creation of new statutory roles in local authorities, schools and the health service.

The 2022 schools census represents the first submissions from dedicated ALN Coordinators across Wales, as part of the Implementation of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018.

Analysis of the data suggests that the fall is due to two key reasons. Firstly, schools were asked to stop using the ‘General learning difficulties’ category and to reassess an appropriate category of need for such pupils. This may have led to some pupils being removed from the register if they were identified as no longer having SEN or ALN.

Secondly, many schools have reviewed their special educational needs registers in readiness for the rollout of the ALN Act. Those registered as having a School Action Plan, which was the previous category requiring the least amount of support, were the largest category of support to be removed from the SEN register. The largest falls in terms of school years were in early years settings and primary schools.

Welsh Government will continue to monitor the numbers throughout implementation of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act and work with our partners to ensure the data presents an accurate reflection of the numbers and categories of learners with ALN in Wales.

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 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 380,139 pupils aged 5 to 15, 26.9% were known to be eligible for free school meals or transitionally protected at February 2022 up from 25.2% in April 2021.


Datasets and interactive tools

Schools' census results: February 2022 (provisional) , file type: ODS, file size: 8 KB

8 KB
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Geraint Turner

Telephone: 0300 025 3753

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau a gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg / We welcome calls and correspondence in Welsh.


Telephone: 0300 025 8099

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau yn Gymraeg / We welcome calls in Welsh.