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Bolton: Borough’s schools face pressure with 23 oversubscribed

Education chiefs are facing “significant pressures” to meet the soaring popularity of Bolton schools with 23 of them are oversubscribed, totalling 165 children over capacity.

Of all Bolton’s most sought-after schools, the Department of Education revealed that Essa Academy on Lever Edge Lane was the most oversubscribed secondary school with 34 pupils over its official number of places.

This was followed by St James Church of England High School in Farnworth, which was oversubscribed by 14 pupils, while Mount St Joseph on Greenland Road was oversubscribed by five pupils, while Blackrod Church School was the most oversubscribed primary with 16 extra pupils.

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “There is significant pressure on school places in certain areas and year groups.

“We continue to work with local schools and the Department for Education to address this issue.”

This comes after controversial plans to build a new school on Haslam Park were scrapped following months of protests due to environmental concerns, but with Bolton still needing to take off some of the pressure.

In response the council has put forward plans for additional school places, which education chiefs hope will help to ensure there are enough to go around.

Oversubscribed schools in Bolton:

The Bolton Council spokesperson said: “The recent addition of the University Collegiate School and the pending completion of Kings Leadership Academy in Harper Green will also ease pressure on secondary school places while offering families greater choice.

“Pupil projections for future years are volatile, especially due to the pandemic, but we monitor the data closely so we can continue to offer every family a school place within the borough.”

The Bolton News:

Essa Academy has become one of Bolton’s most sought after schools

But school leaders have argued that local council and government alike must change their approach to how children are allocated school place, rather than the current system of ranking schools by Ofsted reports.

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton said: “It drives a vicious cycle with improvement harder to secure in schools which faces the greatest challenges.

“The current approach needs a rethink so that it is more supportive and less punitive, and so that every family has access to a good local school place.”

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