The number of pupils in England’s secondary schools will surge by 15% by 2027, it’s been predicted.

The Department for Education estimates there will be an extra 400,000 pupils in the country’s state secondary schools over the coming 10 years – that’s a rise of nearly 15%.

Most of the increase is being fuelled with a baby boom from the early 2000s and this is working its way through the school system.

Now school leaders say that these projections are highlighting the challenge facing schools to find places for a growing population and the increasing pressure on school budgets.

Secondary school population will reach 3.3 million

The findings highlight that by 2027, the secondary school population will reach 3.3 million. That’s 418,000 students higher than it is currently.

The DfE numbers point to state primaries seeing their numbers of pupils levelling off after a recent increase in numbers.

By 2027, there will be around 4.5 million pupils in primary school which is down by 112,000 compared to the 4.6 million attending primary school this year.

The DfE says that population changes of school-age pupils is partly down to birth rates among women who were born outside the UK but tend to have higher fertility rates.

The government says that the numbers of children who have been born to women who were born outside the UK between 2002 and 2013 grew by 75% and most of these children are now in school.

The DfE is also giving a number of scenarios which may also affect the overall number of pupils in England’s schools.

Pupil numbers by 2027 could be higher

They say that if the country continues to receive high net migration, then the total pupil numbers by 2027 could be higher than they are projecting currently.

However with lower net migration, these pupil numbers could be 48,000 lower.

The Department also says that with high fertility rates, the number of pupils could be around 95,000 higher than they are predicting and with low fertility rates this could be 133,000 lower.

The National Association of Head Teachers’ general secretary Paul Whiteman says the figures are presenting ‘a challenge’.

He said: “Finding enough school places for a growing school population is getting harder and while a local authority has responsibility, they have no control over a school’s admission policies.

‘National strategy that will guarantee school places’

“We need a national strategy that will guarantee school places, especially in secondary schools.”

He added that a growing pupil population will create other strains on a school system at financial breaking point.

He said that schools are doing more than they did 10 years ago and that extra expectations and more pupils has not been met by current funding levels.

He added: “There’s a real concern for school leaders and we need the Treasury to urgently find money for schools.”

The Department for Education says the government has created the largest number of school and there will be 1 million more new places for the education system by 2020 than there were in 2010.