Schools using other methods for class space

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WIGAN children have been assured of school places by council chiefs – as the country faces a shortage of classroom space.

Figures released by the Department of Education show that the total capacity of the borough’s 102 primaries in the academic year 2014 to 2015 has increased from 25,827 to 26,541.

Predictions of pupil numbers are 25,536 in 2014 to 2015 and 26,032 in 2015 to 2016. But the borough will provide the school space say council chiefs.

Wigan Council assistant director of education, Kirston Nelson, said: “As in many areas, Wigan has experienced an increase in demand for primary school places over the last few years.

“In response to this, we have committed to a programme of increasing the number of primary school places, either temporarily or permanently, where we have forecast additional need. We have done this predominantly by enlarging existing schools, rather than opening new schools.

“While we are confident that our plans will ensure sufficient school places in the area for 2015, the high demand means that parents’ choice of school place for their child may be more limited. The capital funding to provide additional places is limited. We support the Local Government Association’s call to ensure that funding is given to local authorities that have the greatest need for extra places. And to put measures in place to ensure that no new free schools are built in areas with a surplus of school places.

“We also support the calling for a more realistic assumption about the level of financial contribution authorities can be expected to make to deliver places, taking into account the financial challenges.”