Council acts to avert school places crisis

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EDUCATION chiefs are set to create temporary class places at schools across Wigan to cope with a spike in the town’s population.

Officials say more places are needed in Tyldesley, Atherton, Lowton, Golborne and Leigh in time for next year’s reception intake.

Plans are already underway to create permanent places at a number of schools across the borough after it emerged birth rates had shot up between 2006 and 2010.

A cash injection of £38m has been set aside to fund expansion plans to a series of borough schools.

Existing plans include:

Increasing the intake at Westleigh High School in Leigh by 54 places and at St Peter’s Catholic High School in Orrell by 25 places in 215/16.

Ince St Mary’s Church of England Primary School and Marus Bridge Primary School have already received approval for an additional 15 places.

A ‘bulge class’ of up to 30 pupils has already been created for the 2014 intake at Abram CE Primary School and high pupil numbers are projected for the next two years, with an extra 15 permanent places to be added from 2015.

A consultation is currently underway to determine which schools should benefit from the temporary places.

From 2019, future projections show there is a need to create an additional 90 secondary school places across Orrell, Wigan West and Ashton.

A spokesman for Wigan Council said the extra school places were needed to accommodate an increase in births, from 3,613 in 2006/07 to 4,030 in 2010/11.

Kirston Nelson, assistant director for education at Wigan Council, said: “Using population data we are able to predict which areas of Wigan Borough may be affected by population growth in years to come. We have developed the education capital programme based on this data.

“Following a period of several years of falling rolls, the secondary school intake begins to increase from 2014/2015 onwards as the higher numbers experienced in primary schools over recent years progress through the school system. Pupil forecasts show that there may be insufficient year seven places in the borough as a whole from 2019, it will therefore be necessary to create additional secondary school places across three areas of the borough.

“In the east of the borough, we are forecasting that temporary places may be required in the Tyldesley, Atherton, Lowton and Golborne area to manage a one year shortage of places. Projections don’t forecast this will be a consistent rise, but we will continue to monitor should projections increase that demonstrate permanent places are required.

“We are confident that our multi-million pound education capital programme will meet this demand.”