Fifth of schools are too full

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A FIFTH of Wigan’s schools were full or had too many pupils last year, official figures show.

Statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE) reveal that 24 of Wigan Borough’s 123 primary and secondary schools were full or have at least one or more pupils in excess of school capacity.

There were 20 primary schools and four secondary schools which were over subscribed in 2011 and forecasts estimate that by 2015 there will be an extra 2,060 pupils looking to enroll at primary schools in the borough than there were last year.

In October, our sister paper the Wigan Observer revealed that nearly half of Wigan’s secondary schools had to turn pupils away because of over-subscription for places in 2011.

The statistics reveal that St Edmund Arrowsmith, Fred Longworth High School and Westleigh High School all had more pupils applying to them as their first choice than they had student places available.

Other schools that had more pupils applying than there were places included St Mary’s RC High, St Peter’s RC High, Cansfield High and Standish High.

Figures obtained following a freedom of information request revealed that Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley was the most popular school in the borough.

Some 288 pupils put Fred Longworth as their first choice when only 255 places were available.

The DfE said it is targeting funding at the areas facing a critical shortfall to help them provide extra school places.

Today’s figures also show that according to local authority forecasts, there is expected to be an extra 454,800 pupils at primary school nationally by 2015/16, while the number of secondary-age pupils will increase by 44,210.

Schools Minister Lord Hill said: “We’re creating thousands more places to deal with the impact of soaring birth rates on primary schools.

“We’re more than doubling targeted investment at areas facing the greatest pressure on numbers - to over £4 billion in the next four years.

“We are building Free Schools and letting the most popular schools expand to meet demand from parents.”