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Empty desks part of the plan

Reporter: Karen Doherty
Date online: 10 March 2014

SOME of Oldham’s newest secondaries could have the largest number of empty desks in September.

Figures from Oldham Council show Oasis Academy Oldham was left with the most spaces when year 6 pupils were allocated their secondary school places on March 3.

Only 216 current year 6 pupils were given a spot at the Hollins school, which has a 300-place capacity - a shortfall of 28 per cent.

Oldham Academy North, Royton, was 56 short of filling its 240 places (23.3 per cent gap) and Newman College, Chadderton, had an 11 per cent deficit with 267 of its 300 places allocated.

Oasis and Oldham Academy North opened in 2010, a year before Newman College.

The only other schools in the borough with shortfalls were Failsworth, with 300 places and 275 pupils allocated, and Collective Spirit Free School, which opened last year and was four short of its 60 capacity.

Schools point out that the figures, which were forecast, are already changing as parents enquire about places.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Cabinet member for education, said: “In recent years, Oldham Council has extensively planned and financially invested in education facilities and provision in Oldham.

“This planning also took into consideration the issue of surplus secondary school places in the borough. Over the past few years, the new or refurbished schools and academies are much bigger schools and therefore have more places for pupils.

“We’re seeing a bulge in primary school pupil numbers, similar to many other local authorities across the country. Over the next five years this will feed into our secondary schools intake.”

The vast majority of year 6 pupils will go to the secondary school of their choice in September.

A total of 84 per cent of youngsters (2,422) got a place at their preferred secondary, down slightly from 87 per cent last year. Eight per cent will attend their second choice school (six per cent last year) and two per cent their third choice.

Current school occupancy:

SCHOOL, No of places, Allocation 2014/15, Waiting list?

Oasis Academy 300, 216, No;

Oldham Academy North, 240, 184, No;

Blessed JH Newman, 300, 267, No;

Failsworth, 300, 275, No;

Collective Spirit, 60, 56, No;

Crompton House, 195, 195, Yes;

Hathershaw, 210, 210, Yes;

Blue Coat, 240, 240, Yes;

North Chadderton, 240, 240, Yes;

Royton & Crompton, 240, 240, Yes;

Saddleworth, 270, 270, Yes;

Radclyffe, 300, 300, Yes;

Waterhead Academy, 300, 300, Yes.

Oasis Academy Oldham principal David Hayes said the school had built up a financial surplus to mitigate the shortfall at one of the country’s most improved secondaries.

“We always knew it would be a challenge and take time to establish ourselves as the school of choice for our area and to bring up the admission numbers,” he said.

“We are establishing excellent relationships with the local primary schools in an area where other schools already have long-standing relationships. The turnaround taking place here is clear to see.”

Colette Burgess, principal of Oldham Academy North, said the number of pupils allocated was in line with predictions.

“There are fewer 11-year-olds this year but in future years, the number will increase as can be seen by the number of primary school-age children in Oldham.”


So all those NIMBYs in Diggle who don't want a new School in the village should start campaigning for Saddleworth School in Uppermill to stop admitting new students .Over the next 5 years there will be plenty of places to absorb Saddleworth students into the rest of the Borough's secondary schools and academies. I am sure residents around the present school in Uppermill would welcome the peace and quiet if the school is closed.

Oasis and Oldham Academy North must think the people of this town have an IQ that is the equivalent of their GCSE pass rates. There's a clear correlation between their empty desks, their inadequate OFSTED ratings and their real GCSE pass rate.

Not all doom and gloom though with Waterhead pulling in all 300 of their students, schools with buildings that are old like Saddleworth or North Chad being full or a school in a derelict building like Collective Spirit being nearly full.

I would be interested to find out the job prospects for the graduates of the 13 schools listed. It should be quite easy for each school to track their students paths after leaving. What percentage go to university, tech' college, or straight to job? What sorts of program do they opt for at college or university - Arts vs Science, etc? I think if the students and parents have the above information provided they would be more confident and secure in their decisions.

@FreddieTucker - think you will find the Oldham Academy North has an Ofsted rating of Good, and very close to outstanding. Will always take time to establish a new school especially in an area that has always had a Catholic school

@Bramble and Oldham Academy North's exam results being some of the worst in the country? Care to comment on that? Students are going through the system NOW and being failed. As for the school previously being a Catholic School, anyone who drives past the school will tell you that all it is now is a Muslim school.

It doesn't matter if a building had £30,000 or £30 million spent on it. it's what you do inside that matters, that's why schools like North Chadderton have a waiting list.

freddietucker. There are no Muslim schools in Oldham. There may be schools where a significant proportion of the intake come from an Islamic background but they all follow a British curriculum.

At Gladys. Unnecessary resurrection of the Diggle Nimbys. So I suppose it's all good for 11+ year old children to leave their houses at stupid O'Clock in the mornings to catch two, maybe three buses to be at school for 8:30-8:45. And yes, I do have children that go to Saddleworth.

@FreddieTucker - I agree about the poor exam results which is why I didn't pick up on it in my previous comment, I was merely pointing out you incorrectly stated it had an inadequate Ofsted. I also need to point it is not a Muslim school at all. One thinks you may be making a sweeping generalisation based on the ethnicity of the pupils who go there. The school didn't use to be Catholic. It used to be Grange. The site it is based on used to be the home of the Catholic school.

@JMTS - go on then tell me what means significant proportion, their own data shows 96%. All I have to go off is the DfE figures for Oldham Academy North

- 6% achieve the EBacc, the lowest in the town
- 42% achieve a GCSE pass in English & Maths, again the lowest in the town and amongst the worst in the country
- just 1 in 3 leave with 5 GCSEs.

A strategy that is based on our school will be eventually full when no one has a choice is very telling. Especially with those exam results.

@freddietucker - just because 96% of the students are Muslim does not make it a Muslim school. As JMTS states, the curriculum is no different to any other school

Oldham academy north has had an 11% decease in gcse results this year it did worse than the previous school that it replaced how can this be classed as good by Ofsted

It's also causing noise pollution for local residents

@royton owl - I suggest you read the Ofsted report online and it will answer your questions. I imagine your second sentence explains the real reason you dislike this school

I'd have thought with just a great Ofsted report the school would be oversubscribed then Bramble. Instead part of the plan seems to be to wait until parents have no choice but to send their children there.

A school that has a 96% one ethnic & religious group intake will never become mixed. It'd be a very brave parent from a non Bangladeshi non Muslim background that would send their child to Oldham Academy North.

@freddietucker - that's a very naive view point. Parents will consider a whole host of things not just Ofsted. You are also ignoring the fact this school has been moved from a predominantly Asian area in to Royton on the site of a different school which has only moved down the road. It is going to take time for historic patterns and trends to change. It's also a very sad point that you feel the need to bring race and religion in to your argument especially when the majority of kids are British!!

EXACTLY what makes someone British. It isn't a real identity is it? Just what is it that you think BRITISH people share that unites them?

@Vivis - quite simply that the fact they are born in Britain? Not rocket science really


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