THE number of school places up for grabs is a common cause of concern for parents who want their children to get into their preferred choice.

With some children missing out on their preferred choice and certain schools becoming oversubscribed, school places have been a growing issue in recent years, and one that could intensify further with the number of housebuilding developments across the borough.

Looking at data for schools in and around Leigh - including Atherton, Astley, Golborne, Lowton, Hindley, and Tyldesley - the figures show that 15 primary schools were oversubscribed for the academic year 2023/2024.

The Department for Education data also shows that there are three oversubscribed high schools in the area in the current academic term.

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Leigh Journal: Bedford Hall, which was rated 'Excellent' in a church school inspection, was also oversubscribedBedford Hall, which was rated 'Excellent' in a church school inspection, was also oversubscribed (Image: Bedford Hall)
Worked out by the number of places offered compared with the number of times the school was put as first preference, the most oversubscribed primary school in and around Leigh was Twelve Apostles on Nel Pan Lane.

An Ofsted-rated 'Outstanding' school, Twelve Apostles could only offer 30 places compared with the 52 pupils that had it as their first choice - meaning that more than 40% of those who applied did not get in.

The second most oversubscribed school in the area was Bedford Hall on Breaston Avenue, which could only offer 30 places to the 48 pupils that had it as their preferred choice.

The third most oversubscribed was St Ambrose Barlow in Astley, which could only offer 29 places to the 43 pupils who applied for the school as their first choice.

Other oversubscribed primary schools included Hindley Junior and Infant School, Garrett Hall in Tyldesley, All Saints in Golborne, Newton Westpark in Leigh, Gilded Hollins in Leigh, St Michaels in Howe Bridge, Lowton St Mary's, Lowton St Luke's, Hindley Green, St Richard's in Atherton, Leigh St John's, and Hindsford.

In addition to the oversubscribed schools, there were a further five institutions that were at capacity with the number of places offered matching the number of first choice preferences.

When looking at the Department for Education's data for high schools in and around Leigh, the figures show that three high schools were oversubscribed in the academic year 2023-24.

The most oversubscribed high school in the area was Golborne High, which received an Outstanding Ofsted report in last year's inspection.

The Lowton Road school could only offer 224 places compared with the 278 pupils that put it as a first preference, meaning that 20% of pupils who applied did not get in.

The second most oversubscribed high school was Fred Longworth in Tyldesley, which could only offer 265 places to the 306 pupils who put it as first preference.

Outwood Academy in Atherton was the final oversubscribed high school in and around Leigh, with 184 places offered to the 202 pupils who put it as first preference.

Speaking about the applications for the current academic school year, Cath Pealing, Assistant Director of Education at Wigan Council, said: “Birth rates naturally have a significant impact on the number of first preferences that can be met each year.

“Wigan Borough is currently managing a high population in our secondary sector, which will continue for the next couple of years as larger primary cohorts move through the education system.

“Despite these challenges, Wigan Borough has consistently performed above the national average when it comes to meeting parental preferences.

“In recent years, meanwhile, the birth rate in the borough has consistently fallen – leading to a surplus of places at reception level. This means we are more able to meet parental preferences in this sector.

“With new housing developments, the council also secures contributions to expand school capacity through legal agreements with the developers, in line with our own planning policies and national regulations.”