Schools well set to cope with pupil increase

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WIGAN is ahead of other UK authorities when it comes to tackling a shortage of primary school places.

That’s because the council already has plans in place to deal with the anticipated upsurge in extra pupils. Meanwhile primary schools in many other parts of the country are having to sacrifice libraries and music rooms to cope with the rising demand for places.

Kirston Nelson, head of education at Wigan Council, said: “There has been an increase in demand for school places in the borough due to a rise in the birth rate over the last four years.

“We’ve been closely monitoring the situation and have invested in additional primary school places in a number of schools in the Platt Bridge, Orrell, Lowton, Pemberton, Tyldesley and Atherton areas. Our projections indicate additional places will be needed for the 2014 to 2016 intakes in some parts of the borough and the council is currently addressing this issue.

“The increase in the number of children coming through the primary school system will impact on the number of secondary school places needed in the future. We’ve committed funding to ensure this demand is met, even though we face a challenging economic climate due to government cuts to capital funding.”

One example of the borough’s strategy is the future of Ince St Mary’s CE Primary, which is to be extended by 15 places more per year group as a result of plans to move the school from its current location in Spring View to a site in Wright Street, Platt Bridge in the year 2014/2015, although this is being done in the face of widespread opposition from parents.

Coun Susan Loudon, cabinet member for children and young people at Wigan Council, said: “There is high demand for school places all over the borough as well as in the Platt Bridge and Abram area – the relocation and extension of St Mary’s provides the perfect opportunity to address that shortfall.”