NEARLY half-a-million pounds has been set aside to support schools who have taken in extra children because of a shortage of places.

Education chiefs have set up a “Growth Fund” to fund additional classes to cope with “significant” increases in the population.

Since 2009, £50 million has been spent on creating more than 3,000 extra school places, including areas in which schools had been controversially closed.

And although the council does not anticipate a huge increase in demand for places in Bolton’s primary schools, the money would provide financial support where a school or academy has agreed with the authority to increase its admission number.

The Bolton News revealed yesterday that nine out of 10 primary pupils had got the school place of their choice.

Previously, schools that have been part of the primary expansion programme have had increases to their funding from the contingency budget and now a growth fund of £440,000 will be set up.

The basic amount per pupil will reduce in primary schools due partly to the creation of fund.

It will decrease from £2,874 this academic year to £2,821 in 2014 to 15.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “In the near future we are not anticipating any further substantial increases in demand for places nor the need for further expansion in primary schools.

“Whilst the growth fund is a new Government mechanism to provide school funding for expanding schools, this is something that Bolton has had in place for a number of years.

“It neither provides new money nor results in a cut to existing per pupil funding but it does ensure that schools undertaking a planned expansion are funded fairly and properly for the extra pupils they take.”

The drive to provide the additional classroom slots follows the closure of a number of local schools due to “falling roll numbers”.

Westhoughton Primary School and Scot Lane End Primary School in Blackrod both closed in 2008 while Christ Church CE Primary in Harwood was closed in 2007.