What do the school based forecasts tell us about predicted rolls in Cambridgeshire?

Image of Swiss cake roll in a cone

Forecasting pupil rolls can be tricky business but getting it right can be sweet.

Our first data story on school forecasting discussed how the school based forecasts help to offer insight into future demand for each school within the county. In order to plan provision strategically though, it is also important to look at how individual forecasts look from a county wide perspective. A countywide forecast report is produced each year and can be viewed here.

Data story 1 gave you some background to the pupil forecasting that we are doing here in Cambridgeshire but now we want to have a look about what the data within the school based forecasts aretelling us about predicted future rolls within the county. We did also discuss though how the school based forecasts are limited to the existing capacity of each school and is not always truly reflective of the overall pressures that may be placed on this capacity. The catchment based forecasts help here in that they are not restricted and forecasts the school age population living within a catchment area rather than the school rolls. The forecast numbers for the current Cambridgeshire catchment forecasts will be explored in our next data story.

Highlights of the school roll forecasts

The highlights of the forecast figures based on the January School Census currently predict:

• In five years’ time, total primary rolls are forecast to be around 4.0% higher than current numbers in the authority as a whole.

• For the LA as a whole, the number of reception age pupils is forecast to be very similar in five years’ time, with a slight decrease, due to a lower number of births.

• Primary rolls are currently forecast to be 0.5% lower in South Cambridgeshire in five years’ time. A lower level of growth has been seen here in recent years.

• Rolls are forecast to be 7.5% higher in Fenland and 7.3% higher in Cambridge City

Figure 1: Actual and forecast numbers of primary aged pupils in Cambridgeshire, 2005/06 to 2025/26

Figure 1 of School Rolls 2015/16


• The number of 11 year olds is forecast to increase rapidly over the next 10 years by 17% to around 6,740. This increase is particularly marked in Cambridge City (27%), Fenland (18%), and Huntingdonshire (17%). Growth is forecast to be lowest in East Cambridgeshire (9%) followed by South Cambridgeshire (14%).

• The forecasts show that the number of 11 to 15 year olds is expected to remain relatively stable for the next year before increasing more noticeably as larger primary cohorts filter through. Between now and 2025/26 the number of 11 to 15 year olds is expected to increase by 14% from 28,301 to around 34,422 pupils.

• Over the next five years, there is only a slight change in the forecasted numbers of 11 to 15 year olds in Fenland (9.1%) and Huntingdonshire (4.4%). In Cambridge City, numbers are expected to increase by 23.4% while in East Cambridgeshire and South Cambridgeshire numbers are expected to increase by 19.8% and 18.6% respectively.

Figure 2: Actual and forecast numbers of 11 to 15 year old pupils in Cambridgeshire, 2005/06 to 2025/26

School Rolls 2015/16

• The total number of forecasts 16 to 18 year olds on rolls in Cambridgeshire is forecast to fall slightly over the next five years before increasing again reflecting forecast declines in numbers in Fenland (5%) and Huntingdonshire (11%) over the next five years.

• Over the next ten years, the number of sixth form pupils in Cambridgeshire is forecast to increase by around 15%. This is driven by a forecasted 40% increase in Cambridge City and significant gains in East Cambridgeshire and South Cambridgeshire; 54% and 25% increases respectively.


The Cambridgeshire Research Group produce a county wide forecast report that provides a local view of the forecast scenario for the future. This report is also broken down to show projections at individual district level. This report can be accessed by clicking here (https://cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Annual-Pupil-Projections-for-cambridgeshire.pdf)


If you have suggestions to make or want to find out more, please contact jamie.leeman@cambridgeshire.gov.uk