Parents fighting for primary school places 'Will not face problems of last year'

First published in News

PRIMARY schools will meet demand for places this September after encountering problems last year, a new report has revealed.

On April 17, parents across the borough will learn if their children have been given places at their preferred primary school.

In the aftermath of last year’s “demand pressures”, Bury Council set up a taskforce to oversee its application system and a report presented to Tuesday night’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting at the town hall said matters were going in the right direction.

Two problem areas which arose last year were: ■ High demand for places at Butterstile, Heaton Park, St Margaret’s and St Mary’s primary schools in Prestwich where some schools had to increase class sizes to cope.

■ Children whose siblings are already at a school receive priority, which meant 73 of 95 places at St Luke’s Primary School and St Thomas’s Primary School in East Bury went to siblings, causing other pupils to miss out due to “quite exceptional sibling demand”.

The report said: “Initial analysis of applications indicates that, while the East Bury and Prestwich areas continue to experience high levels of demand, there is sufficient capacity in these areas to meet the current applications received.”

It added: “The south of the borough is also experiencing very high levels of demand from the Roman Catholic sector, with Our Lady of Grace, St Bernadette’s and St Michael’s all being heavily oversubscribed. There are sufficient places in community schools within the area to accommodate applicants.”

Parents of children applying for high schools should have received offer letters on March 4 and 97 per cent of children will go to their first-choice school.

The report said: “It is anticipated there will be a high number of appeals for places at Elton, Parrenthorn and Woodhey high schools and Bury Church and St Monica’s have been extremely oversubscribed”.

The report notes that rising pupil numbers will mean all the borough’s high schools will be full by 2016, so at that point, priority will go to children living in the borough.

Thirteen per cent — or 1,402 — of current high school pupils live outside the borough.

The report said that, before 2017, the council is looking to spend some of the cash from a £7 million pot on projects to create more places, such as school expansions at St Luke’s and St Thomas’s primary schools.

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