Anger at latest school places plan

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A primary school in Wigan could be getting a £2.5 million extension to help deal with an increase in demand for places in the area.

Wigan Council’s cabinet is set to consider a report on whether Marsh Green Primary School on Kitt Green Road should be expanded to provide an extra 30 places needed in Wigan West.

Marsh Green is a suitable school in the area where we can provide an additional form of entry

The report explains that as well as a rise in the birth rate in the area in 2008, there has been an increase in the number of parents wanting to send their children to school in the local area, leaving a shortage of places.

Additional places have so far been provided through bulge classes in nearby schools including Orrell Lamberhead Green, Westfield and Marsh Green. St Cuthbert’s has also increased their admission number to 60.

But projections show that the demand for places is set to continue and 30 extra places are needed in order to meet it.

The report suggests that if the plan is approved, £2.5 million of capital will be used to build at least an extra classroom onto the school.

The report reads: “Marsh Green is a suitable school in the area where we can provide an additional form of entry.

“It is a popular school and is judged as good by Ofsted.

“The school site has capacity to extend the buildings by an additional one form of entry therefore there would be no additional cost for land to expand the school.”

It goes on to say that expanding other schools in the area would require the council to purchase extra land, pushing up the cost.

It also states that doing nothing would mean the council would have to offer pupils places at a school more than two walking miles from where they live.

The plan is likely to cause some controversy though as the results of another consultation are currently being considered on whether to close one of three primary schools in Shevington.

This proposal aims to tackle a surplus of places in the village but it was met with a huge amount of opposition from parents when it was announced earlier this year and who have set up a campaign and a petition to save all three schools.

Coun Paul Collins, who supports the campaign, said: “My colleagues Councillors Mike Crosby, Damian Edwardson and I have been working closely with our local campaign groups, parents and senior council officers encouraging as many local people as possible contribute to the consultation.

“We will be making sure that every effort is put in to protecting all of our local schools.

“We will be meeting with council officers again after allowing sufficient time to review the large volume of feedback received during the consultation period after receiving approaching 700 survey responses and almost 2,000 signatures on a petition.

“This clearly emphasises the intense level of passion and commitment of local people from across the ward to protect our schools.

“With regard to school places shortages in schools within surrounding areas.

“This is one of the many issues we will be discussing with officers at the meeting to explore options once in possession of all relevant facts and figures.

“If there should be other local schools that may have reached capacity resulting in a shortage of places then it clearly would make perfect sense to direct parents and children towards our outstanding schools, which are within a reasonable commutable distance”

Amy Cummings, vice secretary of the Save Shevington Federation Committee said they were aware of the proposal.

She said: “Questions around this agenda topic have been submitted as part of the consultation process and will be part of the discussions we have planned in person with council representatives over the course of the next two to three weeks.”

The cabinet will consider the plans at its meeting on Thursday. If approved a consultation will be launched to gauge public opinion.

The report also includes plans to increase the number of places at Newbridge Learning Community in Platt Bridge to 88 from 80.