More space for pupils at schools

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WIGAN Council has provided more than 150 extra school places in the past three years to accommodate rising numbers of youngsters starting their education.

The local authority has been forced to provide 173 new school places across the borough following a sudden spike in primary school intakes following years of slowly declining numbers of children starting school.

The council and schools have embarked on a programme of extending classrooms, making school buildings bigger to accommodate additional permanent facilities and re-modelling the interiors of several schools,

Some of the biggest rises in numbers have occurred in Pemberton, where 40 new places have been provided at two schools since the 2012 allocation of pupils, and work on temporary accommodation to house more youngsters at Lamberhead Green Primary School will soon begin.

Atherton has also seen a significant rise in demand with 40 new places allocated at St Philip’s CE and Parklee primary schools, while building extension schemes have also taken place since 2009 in areas including Orrell, Platt Bridge and Tyldesley.

A further 20 places were also allocated in the 2012 intake at three schools in Wigan without new accommodation being provided.

The council said it expects primary school intakes to continue rising until 2016, especially in the highlighted population hotspots.

Kirston Nelson, head of education at Wigan Council, said: “Over the last few years we have enlarged a number of existing schools to provide more space, this has involved changing the internal layout or extending the existing building where possible. As a result 173 additional places have been created .

“In order to accommodate the growing population in the future plans are underway to address further shortages.”

Additional school places are allocated at over-subscribed schools for children whose parents have identified the school as their preference.

Councils across the country have had to accommodate a large rise in reception pupils.

In neighbouring St Helens, £8m is being spent increasing the capacity of a number of local schools.