Schools ‘are ready for hike in pupil numbers’

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WIGAN pupils have been reassured there will be a school place for everyone despite fears that the cost of increasing capacity will push some establishments to breaking point.

A number of schools - including the most in-demand high in the borough, St Peter’s at Orrell - have been granted or are bidding for permission to expand to cope with rising numbers.

The Local Government Association recently expressed fears that the demand for places could soon reach a critical point with no more space or money to extend premises.

But Wigan Council officials say that measures taken last year will prevent any such crisis in the borough.

Funding of £38m was invested into several local schools in 2014 to accommodate the rise in student numbers including improvement to facilities and a creation of more teaching space.

Among the beneficiaries is St Peter’s High, which has attracted substantial investment for an upgrade.

And a proposal to increase capacity at Beech Hill Primary is expected to be approved by council chiefs.

This would up the yearly intake this September from 30 to 45.

A council spokesman said: “Due to a rise in the birth rate we have been working hard to accommodate the demand for additional primary school places in some parts of the borough. The additional school places required have been created through a combination of permanent school expansion programmes and remodelling of some schools to create temporary additional places.

“We carefully monitor and review school places required. Future plans for additional school places have also been assessed and are part of a report released last year.”

The proposal to expand Beech Hill Primary will also include a creation of jobs, with additional staff being required due to the increase in pupils.

Other Wigan schools which have also seen investment are The Deanery, with a £14m rebuild, an increase of places at Westleigh High, St Mary’s Primary and Marus Bridge Primary and a £2m refurbishment at Britannia Bridge Primary.

Latest government figures project that by 2023 there will be a total of 8,022,000 pupils in England’s schools - up from 7,143,000 in the current academic year.